The NSF has called for proposals on how to increase the number of women in academic science, engineering and math.
Biology, computer science, geoscience, physical science, social and behavioral science and economics are all on the list, although home economics is not — I remember when it used to be a required course for girls in junior high. But times have changed.
Now, even though women earn close to half the Ph.D.s in these fields — 46.1% in 2008, up from 17% in 1976 — they do not occupy half of the faculty and administration positions at colleges and universities, the NSF says, and professors are the people who shape the next generation of scientists and engineers. Minorities and the disabled are even more scarce.
From the NSF, on some of the reasons for the lack of women in science and math:
There’s also a push lately in male-dominated Silicon Valley for more women to start high-tech companies or become venture capitalists, for which you usually need science and math. See my story here about a new venture capital firm called Illuminate Ventures that was started by women to serve women entrepreneurs — whose numbers are growing, but not fast enough.
Men are of course welcome at Illuminate too — any venture firm that refused to fund companies started by men would go out of business fast.
Proposals to the NSF, meanwhile, are due in November.
(The picture above is of Marie Curie after she won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911, her second Nobel Prize).