Legislating Women into Science

Worldwide, women hold few top jobs in academic research. At public research institutions and universities in the US and France, women occupy only about 14% of senior positions. That is about as good as it gets: the figure drops to 11% for Italy, 7% in Japan, and 5% in Germany and the Netherlands. Moreover, the higher an institution’s prestige, the lower the proportion of women: at Cambridge University, for example, 6% of professors are women, compared to the British national average of 8%. What is new and interesting is that nowadays no one – deans, presidents of universities, national legislators – is happy with this situation. Germany and Japan are calling for 20% of full professorships to be held by women by 2005 and 2010, respectively. The French, too, have traded their faith in