A recently launched Web-based letter writing campaign aims to help members of university communities address the under-representation of women on science faculties nationwide.

The campaign, Women in the Sciences: Left Out, Left Behind, was initiated by the Washington-based National Women’s Law Center and a new, women-focused organization also based in Washington, Women’s Prerogative.

The campaign Web site will give viewers insight into the representation of women on the science faculties of nearly 150 leading research universities, and will "give them the tools to make a real difference in addressing the significant disparities that exist," according to the National Women’s Law Center’s Tuesday press release.

The data on the site comes from a 2002 report by Dr. Donna Nelson of the University of Oklahoma. The report found that women–especially women of color–are rare in tenured and tenure-track positions in the top science departments. The result is a vicious cycle, the report said: Young women lack female role models and mentors in the sciences and are discouraged from entering those fields, thus perpetuating the lack of significant female representation.

The site urges viewers to voice their support of women in the sciences and suggests actions such as writing letters to a school’s Board of Trustees, creating mentor programs to support young women in the sciences and alerting local media outlets to the problem.



For more information:

National Women’s Law Center–Women’s Prerogative
"Women in the Sciences: Left Out, Left Behind":

Ipas–Ipas withdraws underwriting support of local public radio WUNC:


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A public radio station in Chapel Hill, N.C. recently announced its refusal to use the term "reproductive rights" in on-air underwriting announcements. The phrase, it said, could be interpreted as advocating a political position, which is against Federal Communications Commission regulations.

The FCC bars public radio stations from airing underwriting announcements that advocate political, social and religious causes, although they allow sponsorships from advocacy groups. The radio station, WUNC, told Ipas, a Chapel Hill-based international women’s rights and health organization, that because of those rules the group’s announcement on the station had to be altered, even though it had been running without dispute since February. The station said from now on it will use the term "reproductive health" instead.

Anu Kumar, executive vice president of Ipas, told the Raleigh News and Observer that "reproductive health" was not sufficient to convey the group’s intended meaning and she labeled the station’s decision as overly cautious. On Nov. 19, the group withdrew its underwriting support of the station, saying its efforts to negotiate were unsuccessful.

The language dispute is a reflection of the current political climate, Kumar said.

"The issue of reproductive rights, like many others, has been cast as an ‘either you’re with us or you’re against us’ issue," she told the News and Observer, "and so much of the language is assumed to be code for something else."

— Robin Hindery.

** Special Update: A New York-based nonprofit, NetAid, recently named Clotilde Dedecker, 17, as a recipient of its Global Action Awards, presented to high school students who have taken exemplary actions to fight global poverty. Dedecker, one of Women’s eNews’ 21 Leaders for the 21st Century in 2004, was honored for raising money to build schools for girls in Afghanistan and for raising awareness about Islam, Middle Eastern culture and tolerance, the group said.