SOME OF PROBLEMS OF WOMEN PHYSICISTS IN RESEARCH INSTITUTES IN UZBEKISTAN
Institute of Nuclear Physics of Uzbekistan Academy of Sciences, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan is a large scientific and cultural center in Central Asia and has about 30 scientific and higher educational institutions, in which physical investigations are conducted. They are Institute of Nuclear Physics (INP), Physical-Technical Institute (PTI), Institute of Electronics (IE), Heat-Physics Department, National University, Samarkand State University etc. Investigations cover high-energy and elementary particle physics, nuclear physics, solid state physics, material researches, molecular and non-linear optics, acoustics, biophysics, solar energy, and many others. A large number of women physicists are involved in these fields. But the situation of women in physics is similar to one in many countries: very few women are at higher levels of career ladder.
In our country the problems of women in physics have not been studied up till now, and we will analyse the data on a few research institutes of Uzbekistan Academy of Sciences. On the average, the percentage of women in different scientific fields makes up about 30% of the total researchers, but women are represented less in physics and more in humanities, and even in chemistry or biology. Women are underrepresented at all levels of their working in physics, compared with men. Moreover, the degree of woman representation decreases as one moves along the career scale. In Table 1 are the data on women scientists in some of the academy institutes.
As seen, in all considered institutes the percentages of women having PhD and Dr degrees decrease in comparison with ones of men. The higher the career level is, the less the number of women in physics. On the average, only 8% of the total female researchers have be awarded by the Dr degree, while among the men 20% have the Dr degree. Besides, the indices in Table 1 could be overestimated owing to different migration activity among male and female physicists at last decade, caused by transitional problems in post-Soviet space. Men have migrated in greater degree than women.
Causing the trouble is aging the scientists both men and women owing to migration of young scientists into business or other countries for earnings. In physical institutes the average age of women having PhD degree is about 50-55 years old, having Dr degree - about 60 years old. The younger generation is easier to leave science for other business. Women of elder generation who have devoted more than 20-30 years to the institute prefer to stay here, but have to overwork somewhere for earning. All these have resulted in the existing ratio of women/men in physics.
One of reasons preventing women to achieve successful career is family. Women have more responsibilities in their household, in raising and educating the children compared to men. And they are forced to leave less time for science, especially under the low level of necessary infrastructure . Most of women with PhD and Dr degree are single or have a small family. In general, balancing family and career is a difficult solvable problem and demands an individual approach to each single case. A possibility to find two professional jobs for married couple in the same geographic area is very small under existing conditions.
There is also administrative barrier to successful career for women. In Uzbekistan, as in other states of the former Soviet Union, the equality of rights for men and women was declared by the Constitution. The available educational system allows women to receive the same basic physical education as men. But there is a difference between formal equality of rights and real equality, and women have not still equal opportunities in career attainment. At the equal professional skills, women are promoted only in absence of the male person suitable for the work. As a result, women have to make greater efforts to achieve the leader position in physics. Only three women physicists are heading the research laboratories in Academy of Sciences. Up to now, there is not women academician in physics.
Today our physicists, as all scientists from the New Independent States of the former Soviet Union, are faced with problems of funding and adaptability connected with FSU disintegration. Insufficient financing caused the migration of many physicists (both men and women) into other fields of activities and other countries. In comparison with 1980s the total researchers in the institutes decreased about 2 times. On the other hand, in response to the critical state of scientists the inflow of youth decreases sharply. The issue of attracting the youth into physics requires the special attention - strong social motivation. At present in higher educational institutions are being trained many students. But on graduating they go away in other fields, not in science. To attract anybody into physics, improving financial situation is needed.
To keep the accumulated scientific potential it is necessary to improve economic conditions in science, to increase cooperation with international scientific community. International collaboration could be an important influence. Now a few ISTC-supported projects are awarded to women from physical research institutions. For example, Dr. M. Usmanova from Institute of Nuclear Physics is a head of STCU project on pure materials and environmental problems; Dr. E. Ibragimova (Institute of Nuclear Physics) is a key researcher in INTAS, CRDF and STCU projects in solid state physics and ecologically pure energy; Dr. M. Rasuleva (Institute of Nuclear Physics) is one of team leaders in INTAS grant in mathematical physics; Dr. D. Gulamova from the Physical-Technical Institute is a head of STCU project on materials for solar energy; R. Radyuk (Institute of Nuclear Physics) having PhD degree is a key researcher in grant on radiation monitoring the water system of Central Asia. The contribution of women-physicists can be more considerable, if their social activity will be high. The social role of women is large. The high social activity of women stabilizes the sociaty, that is very important under existing political situation in the East, increasing the Islamic fundamentalizm influence.