Excerpt from a NYT interview with Nobel Laureate Carol W. Greider:
…Q. MANY REPORTERS HAVE ASKED WHY TELOMERES RESEARCH SEEMS TO ATTRACT SO MANY FEMALE INVESTIGATORS. WHAT’S YOUR ANSWER?
A. There’s nothing about the topic that attracts women. It’s probably more the founder effect. Women researchers were fostered early on by Joe Gall, and they got jobs around the country and they trained other women. I think there’s a slight bias of women to work for women because there’s still a slight cultural bias for men to help men. The derogatory term is the”old boys network.”It’s not that they are biased against women or want to hurt them. They just don’t think of them. And they often feel more comfortable promoting their male colleagues.
When Lawrence Summers, then the Harvard president, made that statement a few years ago about why there were fewer successful women in science, I thought,”Oh, he couldn’t really mean that.”‘ After reading the actual transcript of his statement, it seems he really did say that women can’t think in that sort of scientific fashion. It was ridiculous!
I mean, women do things differently, which is why I think it would be important if more women were at higher levels in academic medicine. I think people might work together more, things might be more collaborative. It would change how science is done and even how institutions are run. That doesn’t mean that women necessarily have a different way of thinking about the mechanics of experiments. I think it’s more a different social way of interacting that would bring results in differently.
Q. DO THIS YEAR’S NOBELS MEAN THAT WOMEN HAVE FINALLY BEEN ACCEPTED IN SCIENCE?
A. I certainly hope it’s a sign that things are going to be different in the future. But I’m a scientist, right? This is one event. I’m not going to see one event and say it’s a trend. I hope it is. One of the things I did with the press conference that Johns Hopkins gave was to have my two kids there. In the newspapers, there’s a picture of me and my kids right there. How many men have won the Nobel in the last few years, and they have kids the same age as mine, and their kids aren’t in the picture? That’s a big difference, right? And that makes a statement. …