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Issues for Women

Although this paper started out from a discussion about the problems women face in graduate school, it has evolved into something that I think is relevant for everyone, not just women. This is not to say, however, that there aren't special problems faced by women.

In many cases, women and men face the same obstacles in graduate school, but react differently to them. For women, the additional factors that are sometimes (but not always) present include isolation, low self-esteem, harassment and discrimination, unusual time pressures arising from family responsibilities, lack of a support network, and lack of relevant experience. Having an unsupportive advisor can thus become much more of a problem for women than for men. I hope that to some extent, this paper will help both women and advisors of women to provide the supportive, positive environment that all graduate students deserve.

Part of the reason that I changed the focus of the paper is that there have been many articles written recently on the subject of women scientists and women graduate students. These include [spertus], [toth], [hall1], [hall2], [hall3], [sandler], [nsf], [leveson], and [strok]; [mckay] talks about issues relevant for minority faculty members, many of which pertain to minority graduate students. The "systers" mailing list is an electronic resource for women in computer science; send e-mail to "" for more information.

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