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JJay
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[*] posted on 13-5-2017 at 15:12
Women in Chemistry


You often hear that there are few women in engineering fields. I have occasionally heard the same complaint about chemistry, though, but I'm not sure if it holds true... I know several women who are chemists, and I remember noticing numerous women in my chemistry classes in college. This was not the case in programming and physics classes. I don't know why programming and physics attract so few women, but I'm not sure if the same is true of chemistry.

Is it true that there are few women in chemistry? If it is, is this a problem, and if so, what should be done about it?





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[*] posted on 13-5-2017 at 16:32


There appears to be fewer women on this site. But I don't think that this site is reflective of chemistry in general.

However, I don't think there is a problem even if women are "underrepresented". I know of no law or rule of the universe that stipulates that both sexes must be equally represented in all fields. It only becomes a problem if individuals find themselves unable to pursue the things they are interested in pursuing. And that is quite a different piece of data -- not at all the same as the gender proportions within a particular vocation or field.

I am quite sure that men are underrepresented in the fields of scrapbooking and quilting. But I don't think that is a problem either.
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[*] posted on 13-5-2017 at 16:38


As you did, I too noticed quite some women in chemistry in college. Still less than what you'd expect based on the population but they're certainly there. As with all things there must be an eye catcher moment before one gets interested in something and decides to study the matter.

I've been theorizing that there are more male chemists because of the sex appeal of "Feuer und Flamme, Schall und Rauch" - as a lecturer at The Royal Instution put it - to young men. Myself probably included. This interest is innate and does not need encouragement. This has got me thinking what the eye catcher moment is to women in chemistry? Maybe chemistry class can be tailored to more proactively show such eye catchers and in doing so encourage women to study in chemistry?
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[*] posted on 13-5-2017 at 16:48


My wife recently attended a talk at the Women in Chemistry group, which is a affiliated group with the RACI.

https://www.raci.org.au/branches/vic-branch/women-in-chemist...

I think what you'll find is that there's not much in the way of backyard chemistry by women. My wife is an analytical chemist and she is more or less perplexed why anyone would want to try doing things outside a safe regulated environment like a professional lab. Which causes some consternation for want of a better word, when I want to try something at home occasionally.

[Edited on 14-5-2017 by Chemetix]
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Praxichys
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[*] posted on 13-5-2017 at 17:14


I have two younger sisters. Both enjoyed chemistry growing up, usually under my influence. One is a master's-degree formulation chemist at a paint and coatings company and the other went for biochem and is now a histotechnologist.



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TheNerdyFarmer
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[*] posted on 13-5-2017 at 18:47


From what I have seen, most women in chemistry seem to lean toward the biochemistry field. Being a high school student I talked to the director at my local STEM building and she said that most girls lean toward the biochemistry side of the program in order to go into the field of medicine.
Not trying to stereotype women in chemistry here, this is just what I have seen.
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JJay
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[*] posted on 13-5-2017 at 20:26


It should be extremely clear to everyone reading this that statistical generalizations that might appropriately apply to large groups of people don't usually say much about individuals. That said, it can be dangerous for an education director to make such statements.



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j_sum1
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[*] posted on 13-5-2017 at 20:32


@ JJay
Who's the "education director"?
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JJay
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[*] posted on 13-5-2017 at 20:55


j_sum1: Huh? I don't know.



This is my YouTube channel: Extreme Red Cabbage. I don't have much posted, but I try to do nice writeups once in a while.
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[*] posted on 13-5-2017 at 20:59


You said it.
Quote: Originally posted by JJay  
It should be extremely clear to everyone reading this that statistical generalizations that might appropriately apply to large groups of people don't usually say much about individuals. That said, it can be dangerous for an education director to make such statements.


I was just trying to follow what you were saying.
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JJay
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[*] posted on 13-5-2017 at 22:09


Oh, it appeared that you were asking a question about a specific education director. Feel free to clarify.



This is my YouTube channel: Extreme Red Cabbage. I don't have much posted, but I try to do nice writeups once in a while.
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Corrosive Joeseph
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[*] posted on 13-5-2017 at 23:59


Quote: Originally posted by TheNerdyFarmer  
From what I have seen, most women in chemistry seem to lean toward the biochemistry field. Being a high school student I talked to the director at my local STEM building and she said that most girls lean toward the biochemistry side of the program in order to go into the field of medicine.
Not trying to stereotype women in chemistry here, this is just what I have seen.


I think this is the 'education director'.................
:D


/CJ




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The Volatile Chemist
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[*] posted on 15-5-2017 at 15:01


Five year old neighbor recently told my sister she liked chemistry and asked (my sister) if she had taken chemistry in highschool yet. Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised in the interest in chemistry of someone so young.



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[*] posted on 15-5-2017 at 16:25


There's a good number of female chemical engineers at the university where I went to undergrad. Most of the belonged to SWE:

http://societyofwomenengineers.swe.org/
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[*] posted on 15-5-2017 at 20:28


I'm in an engineering program where the gender ratio is about 3:1 male to female, but the individual Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering departments are roughly equal. The departments that really suffer are Mechanical and Computer/Electrical engineering. The overall demographics really vary widely for a number of different characteristics depending on which specific area of STEM you examine.
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[*] posted on 24-5-2017 at 02:22


At the university it's pretty obvious, the ratio of women decreases from students to PhD students to post-docs, assistant professors, and professors.
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[*] posted on 24-5-2017 at 03:38
Women in Chemistry


I don't have any hard data. (Perhaps I should start keeping some.) However, I teach chemistry at a small regional university in the US. Most of our professional chemistry majors are probably male, however we do have quite a few female. The ratio is roughly 3:1. There are probably more female chemistry majors overall, but most of them are planning to pursue pharmacy. I think the major difference I have noticed is most of that the female professional chemistry majors don't seem to be too interested in really doing chemistry. They have chosen this field because they think it will be a good, stable job, or they have a relative who was a chemist and they are following suit. I can offer to show students how to use the NMR, etc, outside class, and I have only ever had one female student show up for that. That particular female student was exceptional and with her bachelor's can probably run circles around 90% of PhD students. I am not saying women are not as smart, but that most of them aren't really interested in the chemistry, but just getting a job. I am female myself, BTW, and I have always loved science. It is difficult for me to understand their lack of enthusiasm.
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[*] posted on 24-5-2017 at 08:20


Someone should do a poll of SM, to see the number of men and women that are here.
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[*] posted on 3-4-2018 at 02:23


This is a legitimate question, women are more represented in social sciences. This gender segregation is a well known and accepted fact.
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[*] posted on 3-4-2018 at 14:17


females are just a myth



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[*] posted on 3-4-2018 at 15:03


A better question is why females seem to be underrepresented here. I am not claiming an even split in the world of chemistry but I think things are even more skewed on this site. Similarly my YT viewership is 96% male.



A little shameless self-promotion: New stuff on the YT channel. 100 sub celebration. Or you can tour my lab.
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[*] posted on 3-4-2018 at 16:34


I'm a chem major atm, at a university in British Columbia (UVIC, if anyone is curious).

The classes are balanced or have more females than males, except physics and computer science.

The administration/ various speakers still dish out lots of talks about equality and stuff however (remember that is it very hard for a women to succeed in chemistry, tell them that they are awesome and never say bad stuff!!). Like they put up a little memo outside my chem lab at the start of last semester that said that no one is inherently more likely to do better in chem based on race, sex, etc, and discrimination will not be tolerated.

Perhaps my own sexist view, but I have noticed that (at least at my level in lower years) females seem to have minimal sincere interest in chemistry (when compared to the people on this board). Like I know a lot of dudes who are naturally curious or easily fascinated by scientific processes, but as of now I have only met one or two females with that description (and they seem to be rare cases). Not sure why that is, it just seems that most women seem to find chemistry a chore.

I don't mean that there is anything inherently wrong with women to make them this way, I think maybe the culture on campus can probably become somewhat toxic, and dissuade women from pursuing or showing interest in natural sciences as they are often considered somewhat patriarchal or masculine activities. I could just be bitter because I'm in some humanity electives where I am lectured on this stuff very often.





[Edited on 4-4-2018 by Daffodile]
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[*] posted on 3-4-2018 at 18:29


I wonder.

Chemistry is inherently dangerous; perhaps that's an element that makes it more attractive to men (who tend to score higher on scales of novelty seeking and lower on avoidance of physical danger.)

Chemistry is (at least for me) very much a 3D visualization process, which men seem to be somewhat stronger at than women.

It's hard to separate genetic from cultural factors. My suspicion is that in a society that was perfectly socially balanced and neutral we would still see a trend toward more men in chemistry, but I can't claim that's more than a hunch.
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[*] posted on 3-4-2018 at 21:31


Reeboot, you have to remember that cutural factors can over a long enough period of time become imprinted in our DNA.

The reason i find chemistry so attractive is that I have a bit of a fantasy of being some hooded dark character working away in a tall tower on the edge of a mountain range all alone (not including my igor) with the monthly angry mob showing up with pitch forks and torches knocking at my door with the intend of burning me alive, with me then responding by throwing 300mls of chloro acetone out the window over the crowd of angry citizens.

Chemistry and especially amateur chemistry is a somewhat daunting subject to much of humanity and likely scares most, I have often called it the modern day equivalent to witchcraft but in actuality i suppose it may have also been responsible for much of the early day interpretations of witchcraft.
Such a subject can often push you to the fringes of society as im sure many of us understand, I think perhaps woman are less inclined to becoming outcasts by society.
This could be hypothetically atrabuted our genetic from the hunter gatherer times of our past where woman generally stayed home and cared for the children and looked after the village/tribe whereas men would go out into the dangerous wilderness in search of food.
Thus an instinctual attaction to being isolated from the rest of society was something that could help the men cope out in the wilderness and find some sense of enjoyment and solitude in the deep dark wilderness.

Like Reboot said an attraction to danger is also something that may make the hobby more attractive to men, after all there is nothing like distilling Bromine without a fumehood. :D

I know im making alot of generalizations here but this is more of a statistical phenomenon and thus we must evaluate things as the mean.
I have honestly never met a female amateur chemist but im sure somewhere in the big blue yonder there exists atleast 1.
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[*] posted on 8-4-2018 at 05:00


Quote: Originally posted by JJay  
You often hear that there are few women in engineering fields. I have occasionally heard the same complaint about chemistry, though, but I'm not sure if it holds true... I know several women who are chemists, and I remember noticing numerous women in my chemistry classes in college. This was not the case in programming and physics classes. I don't know why programming and physics attract so few women, but I'm not sure if the same is true of chemistry.

Is it true that there are few women in chemistry? If it is, is this a problem, and if so, what should be done about it?



Why would it be a problem? should woman be forced to be chemists? Or sewage workers? Often you find people that seek out fields that interest them, there is no gender check box for admission. Just greater majority of woman do not tend to be interested in the direct science and material handling fields.

Some do but they are the exception to the rule, most prefer interpersonal jobs as statistics have shown, much the same with the wage gap myth that just keeps getting recycled, when correctly measured it and chooses accounted for, most prefer personal time then dedication to work and thusly tend to have lower hours on average (And I agree with them on that, I'll make do with less money as I value my time at home more)

We all ready have full equality of opportunity, but now days every one wants equality of out come, the Russians tried that in the early days, didn't work out so well, as Venezuela is learning!

Communism is an idiots venture, and that's where that thinking leads, a room full of one gender, color can be divers, in thought, just as a divers group of colors and genders, but the crucial thing is those people need to want to be there! No one likes to be forced into a position to satisfy some one ells's fragile sense of self and ego.
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