This article in the Chronicle takes on the debate as to whether women are genetically predisposed to do poorly in mathematics. I like this quote:

The researchers found that, in general, mathematically gifted females had broader abilities than did mathematically talented males.

If you ask me, this rings true. Math girls do exist: they just happen to also be good at other things than math.

And the question that never gets asked: why do we necessarily want more women in science and mathematics? Isn’t it cool that women are increasingly present in law and medecine?

In Quebec, we have more women than men in medicine, education, law and so on… would we also want to have more women in science and mathematics?

The only answer I can give is that if we had more women in science and mathematics, we would have more people altogether in science and mathematics. This would be a good thing for science and mathematics professors (including me).

doesn’t this contradict your earlier point that we should dissuade too many people from doing Ph.Ds in CS/Math/in general ?

I don’t see how I contradict myself?

“if we had more women in science and mathematics, we would have more people altogether in science and mathematics. This would be a good thing for science and mathematics professors”

“I’m not saying we should close down Ph.D. programs! But we should be honest and forthcoming about the job prospects.”

I guess i view the first as saying that we want more people in science in math, and the second as implying that we have too many people in science and math…

I don’t think I’m contradicting myself. The fact that it is good for some university professors if more people go into a particular field, is not in contradiction with the fact that we should be forthcoming about job prospects.

Be honest about job possibilities, and hope to still have a large number of students.

There might be a contradiction after all, I guess.