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Gender Studies in Mathematics and Other Sciences

The 2011 article Understanding current causes of women’s underrepresentation in science by Ceci and Williams (Proc. of the National Academy of Sciences, February 7, 2011) has left some of us with more questions than answers. The authors conclude that overt discrimination in publishing and hiring is no longer a deterrent after conducting a statistical analysis. Other scientists point out statistical errors, gaps in reasoning, and omission of relevant research. Instead of discrimination, Ceci and Williams propose 3 factors that explain the underrepresentation of women in “math-intensive” sciences: fertility/lifestyle choices, career preferences, and mathematics ability.

Both the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) and the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) have featured criticisms of the Ceci and Williams article on their websites. Former AWM President Cathy Kessel and Univerity of Oregon Math Professor Marie Vitulli wrote a widely-cited critique which you can read here. Links to this critique as well as other reactions to this and other recent works by Ceci and Williams can be found on the AWM website. Here is a link to the AWM home page where you can read more about this topic and find additional resources.