A new editorial in Nature points out what I’ve long deplored: the overwhelmingly male composition of the National Academy.

“Roughly 10% of members of the science academy are women. This is up from just 6% in 2000, but is still a disappointing number.

Even as the percentage ofwomen rises in many research fields, women still find it harder to join the scientific élite — even in the United States, where they have had a firmer foothold for longer than elsewhere….Perhaps the best thing the academy can do is find ways to get suitably qualified women on the ballot in each of its sections. Such a change may, for instance, require a stipulation that nominees from diverse backgrounds will at least appear on the ballot.

female admissions

Academy members at all levels should also take a more prominent and public role in promoting initiatives that will secure fair treatment for women scientists. All too often, discussions about advancing women or minorities in science spring from the same people — usually the women or minorities themselves. Some leaders do get involved, but it is up to them all to recognize that broadening diversity is more than just a feelgood effort, something to chalk up as a good deed done in the name of equality and then be forgotten.”


I’m sorry, but I just don’t believe that there are so few women doing outstanding science.


Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!


  1. Donald E. Flood May 11, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    A “quota” for the National Academy of Sciences? Not! I think that the late Carl Sagan got screwed, but to suggest that there is a bias in the National Academies, okay, fine, where’s your proof? Correlation does not prove causation:

  2. Actually, Science also mentioned this in a recent editorial as well; I’ve added their figure.

    Gee, the two major journals in the field of science have editorials on the same subject in the same week. Seems like a pretty strong consensus to me. I don’t think I have to defend anything.

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