The Guardian: Ivy Ceilings and Human Spaceflight

On a day in which Nancy Pelosi became the first female Speaker of the US House of Representatives, the Guardian reminds us that there are still plenty of jobs that discriminate between the sexes, including “Physics professors: There is a grand total of 515 physics professors in the UK, and a mere 25 of them are women.” There are plenty of female of grad students, quite a few postdoctoral fellows, some junior faculty members, and almost none in the most senior positions. This isn’t just the delayed effect of old habits being worked through the system — females still leave the profession from all levels in disproportionate numbers. So much for our enlightened ways.

The Guardian also reported on recent statements from the new Science Minister, Malcolm Wicks, that the UK is reconsidering its unwillingness to support human space exploration. They specifically say that “The tide is turning: the Royal Astronomical Society published a report last year, by three independent scientists, which highlighted the scientific case for Britain to send people into space.” However, they don’t emphasize that the RAS “has not yet taken a formal position on UK involvement” and that most RAS members (the ones I know, at least — this is anecdotal evidence) are opposed to extensive investment in putting humans into space. Although most of us are romantic enough not to oppose it completely.