THE OUTER CIRCLE by Harriet Zuckerman

THE OUTER CIRCLE

Women in the Scientific Community
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 The message here could be summed up as: You've come a long way, baby, but you've still got a long way to go. In this appraisal of the status of women in science, Columbia sociologists Zuckerman and Cole, together with Bruer (president of the McDonnell Foundation), have collected papers from Macy Foundation symposia of the mid-80's that provide rich and penetrating, if sometimes divergent, analyses of what has happened to women since the civil- rights and women's movements, and how this compares with the earlier status quo. No question, women have made gains; they are accepted routinely in medical, law, and business schools, though readers may be startled to find that former Supreme Court Justice and Columbia Law School Dean Harlan Stone, when asked why Columbia did not admit women, said, ``We don't because we don't.'' Moreover, the analyses indicate that women who combine marriage and motherhood do as well or better than single women in terms of research productivity. But for women in general, the gaps remain: They are slower to rise in the academic hierarchy; they are more often appointed as research associates than as regular faculty; they collaborate less and head fewer big laboratories. Even when ``all else is equal,'' women scientists produce fewer papers with fewer citations than their male counterparts. Many are the reasons proposed for the career and paper gaps, most notably a ``theory of limited differences'' presented by Jonathan Cole and Burton Singer that appears to be the sociological equivalent of nonlinear events in theories of chaos: i.e., small differences at the outset of a career (e.g., fewer thesis mentors available for women in prestigious graduate schools where some top dogs still refuse to accept women) accumulate over the years, producing a fanning-out effect that shows up in lesser achievements and productivity as measured by published papers. Overall, a stimulating collection and much food for thought, which one hopes will generate even more current updates and action.

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 1991
ISBN: 0-393-02773-2
Page count: 350pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1991




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