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Female professors in the University's hard-sciences departments -- Physics, Biology and Chemistry -- are few and far between. Such a problem should clearly be addressed. The solutions here are not easy ones. At major research universities across the nation, where publishing is the main determinant of scholarly prestige, women comprise only a small minority of tenured science faculty, thanks largely to the dearth of women enrolled in graduate programs decades ago. In the recruitment and retention of female professors, Penn is no better and no worse than its peers. Focusing our efforts on trying to hire away the small number of professors teaching elsewhere would only spark a bidding war the University can't win. What the University can and should do, however, is work to increase the number of women entering the hard sciences and better support those already on the faculty, lest they follow the beaten path to less-research-oriented liberal arts colleges. To the first end, professors of all stripes should encourage young women to pursue graduate work in the traditionally male-dominated hard sciences. Female professors who have successfully navigated this course should serve as able mentors to the next generation of academics. And to support those who have already courageously chosen to enter the ivory tower, the University should encourage the formation and expansion of support networks among female professors and graduate students at Penn and other research universities. Many such groups have been successful in letting women know that while they may be the minority in their departments, they are definitely not alone. Opening up once-limited academic disciplines to young women should be among the University's goals. Let's hope it pays dividends down the road with increased female representation in the science faculty.

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