AEI's Christina Hoff Sommers Replies to the National Academy of Sciences

Media inquiries: Véronique Rodman

202.862.4870 (vrodman@aei.org)

MEDIA ADVISORY: JUNE 10, 2009

You might be interested in Christina Hoff Sommers's reply to the National Academy of Sciences' new study on the status of female science, engineering and mathematics teachers and researchers in higher education.

Released on June 2, 2009, the study's executive summary notes that, "at many critical transition points in their academic careers (e.g., hiring for tenure-track and tenure positions and promotions) women appear to have fared as well as or better than men . . . " The authors conclude however that women are still not applying for tenure-track jobs at research-intensive universities at the same rate that they are earning Ph.D.s, and are therefore underrepresented in applicant pools.

After analyzing the study’s findings, Sommers notes in "Baseless Bias and the New Second Sex":

The new study does not claim that women have achieved parity with men. It found, for example, that women with Ph.D.s in math and science are far less likely than men to pursue a career at a research-intensive university. Why should that be? The report does not say, but suggests it would be an important question to pursue. In fact, there is now a lively and growing literature on gender and vocation. While some scholars contend that 'unconscious bias' and persistent stereotypes are primary reasons for the paucity of women in the high echelons of math and science, others, perhaps a majority, suggest that men and women, on average, have different career interests and propensities.

Sommers concludes that "the U.S. government has poured vast resources into addressing alleged bias against women in the academy; but it is actually men who are on the wrong side of the educational gender gap. Women now earn more degrees, in every category--associates, bachelors, masters, and doctoral--than men . . . If there is a crisis in the academy that merits congressional attention, it is not that women Ph.D.s are being shortchanged in math and science hiring and tenure committees, for that is not true. It is that men are quickly becoming the second sex in American education.

AEI Press will soon publish The Science on Women and Science. Edited by Christina Hoff Sommers, the book is a collection of articles by scholars who argue different sides of this issue.

Christina Hoff Sommers is available for interviews and can be contacted at csommers@aei.org or 202.862.7180. For all other media inquiries, please contact Sara Huneke at sara.huneke@aei.org or 202.862.4870.

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