Home News Examining women’s academic voices

Examining women’s academic voices

by Archives March 8, 2006

SACKVILLE, N.B. (CUP) — When publishing academic articles, women publish an average of half an article per year less than men, but their work is cited more often and is often viewed as a more important contribution to the field, according to Cecilia Moloney.

“Women spoke less often, but when they did speak, they had something interesting to say,” said Moloney at her lecture on March 3.

Moloney’s speech centered around the lack of women in engineering and computer science programs at universities in Canada and the United States. Currently holding the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council/Petro-Canada Chair for women in Science and Engineering in the Atlantic region, her job is to try and promote women becoming involved in these fields. Moloney is also a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

With her background in science and engineering, Moloney decided to take her experiences in those fields and turn them to the conference which focuses more generally on the personal experiences, challenges, victories and disappointments of women in the academic world.

“Voice is a metaphor for expression,” said Moloney. With her experience in communications, Moloney argues that through voice, women not only express themselves but also ensure that what they have to say is being heard.

Moloney cited research by Virginia Valian out of New York who spoke extensively about gender schemas. Valian argued that communication between men and women is often dependent on gender and that men and women often evaluate each other and each other’s ideas based on gender.

An awareness of these issues has gone a long way to promoting change in the U.S., said Moloney. She said that a summer school hosted for high school teachers at Carnegie Mellon University promoted awareness of gender schemas and examined the reasons why fewer women went into computer sciences.

“There are many women who excel at university,” she said, “they’re just not choosing to apply these skills somewhere that’s not sciences.”

Much of the disparity, she said, could be attributed to the different ways in which “boy nerds” are viewed and treated in comparison to “girl nerds”. Whereas boys are often praised for spending time on the computer and their interest in the sciences, girls are often viewed as abnormal for having the same interests.

“Taking awareness out to the high school teachers is important,” said Moloney.

But even in the current academic environment, women are having trouble making headway toward equal treatment in universities.

Women in universities across Canada earn an average of $11,575 less than their male counterparts, reported Statistics Canada in 2005, and men are more likely to be promoted or considered for tenure than are women.

“One of the chief issues for women in university is children,” said Moloney, arguing that one of the primary areas that needed addressing was the structure of home and family life in regard to professional interests. Whereas women generally take time off work to take care of children and are traditionally responsible for domestic tasks, this leaves men with more time to pursue their professional and academic interests and leaves them more available to promotion and tenure.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment