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Re: re: Where are they?



>It's been two months now that I am learning about paleontology as a 
>full-time job. I have been contacting a lot of people and I have been 
>understanding a lot of fascinating issues with all of them. At this point I 
>can honnestly say I believe I have a good picture of the paleo-community.
>
>And one thing is striking to me: where are the women? I talked to some of 
>them. I am sure I don't have to give names because you know them and 
>their work pretty much I am sure, they are so few! So far, I have only 
>met two women that are actually working in the field. One of them is in 
>Argentina, the other in Madagascar. The other women I talked to were 
>mainly working in laboratories or as assistant.

Part of the gender bias here may be the (understandable) concentration of
the particular project on the evolution of dinosaurs.  Other fields,
especially paleomammology in the cladistic sense (thus incorporating
paleoanthropology) have (as my impression, at least) a higher ratio of
female/male scientists.

Incidentally, the U Pennsylvannia and Montana State University
paleontological programs have added (and are adding) significantly to the
female population of dinosaur researchers, relative to most other programs.
[Again, this is my observation:  I don't have numbers to back it up.]

>No anger in this letter. I only would like to understand. Somebody told
>me this situation is due to the way paleontology started. He told me that 
>paleontology began as a branch of geology and that geology was mainly 
>serving the purposes of the oil companies. And we all know that the oil 
>industry is a man's world. I thought it was a good point. Do you have any 
>other suggestions?

I think there may be something to that.  Furthermore, many of the
paleomammologists (including paleoanthropologists) come out of a zoological
or anthropological background, two fields within the natural sciences in
which women are better represented.

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Vertebrate Paleontologist     Webpage: http://www.geol.umd.edu
Dept. of Geology              Email:th81@umail.umd.edu
University of Maryland        Phone:301-405-4084
College Park, MD  20742       Fax:  301-314-9661