ScienceScope

Science  13 Jun 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5626, pp. 1637
  1. Stanford Finds No Gender Gap in Faculty Salaries

    An interim report on the status of women faculty at Stanford University is causing arched eyebrows at other major research institutions. A team looking at compensation based on gender found “no pattern of disparity that suggests any systemic gender inequity” across the university, including science and engineering faculty. But the study also found that the biggest paychecks go disproportionately to men.

    Study leader Deborah Rhode, a law professor, says the results suggest that “you just don't see” at Stanford the inequities uncovered at other institutions, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). But the biologist who chaired MIT's 1999 study (Science, 12 November 1999, p. 1272) says that the Stanford results sound familiar. “At Stanford, men can be highly paid superstars but not women,” says Nancy Hopkins. “Women are viewed as too wimpy to negotiate in the big time.”

    A final report, due out this fall, will also include data on quality of life, an area in which MIT found large gender disparities.

  2. Millennium Downsized

    Gas could be heard escaping loudly from the genomics bubble last week as a leading biotech firm announced a “restructuring initiative” that includes letting go 600 research staff members and closing facilities in California and Britain. Millennium Pharmaceuticals announced on 5 June that it will concentrate its staff at headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and put its energy into product development and marketing.

    After growing rapidly in the 1990s and investing in gene-based drug ideas, Millennium decided “to focus more sharply on the most attractive opportunities in our pipeline,” including an antileukemia drug, according to a statement issued by CEO Mark Levin. He added that it “saddens me deeply” to order a staff cut from 2300 to 1700 by the end of 2004.

    Millennium has had a “gigantic burn rate,” spending its cash reserves rapidly, notes biotech analyst Yaron Werber of SG Cowen in New York City, who approves of the downsizing. “The investment in early-stage [research] has been ongoing for years, and now it's time to shift focus.”

  3. NASA's Road Map Is Hard to Follow, Review Concludes

    NASA's space science managers need to spend more time at their drawing boards, according to the National Research Council (NRC). In a 29 May letter to NASA, NRC's Space Studies Board dumped on the agency's new space science road map, saying it falls short of being “a true strategy.”

    The 25-page review says the NASA plan (Science, 28 March, p. 1969) lacks details on funding, priorities, timetables, and contingencies, and information on solar missions and a flight to Jupiter is sketchy. NASA also gives short shrift to theoretical studies and strategies for involving more women and minorities in its programs—areas NRC had targeted for attention in past studies. NASA officials are working on a response to the board's review, which the agency requested.

  4. Japan Loses Deep-Diving Rover After Cable Snaps

    TOKYO—A key component of the world's deepest-diving uncrewed submersible has been lost at sea. The 29 May loss off Japan of a rover attached to the Kaiko remotely operated vehicle could disrupt a new sea-floor drilling program and other marine research.

    Kaiko was surveying sites for the initial holes of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program in 4700-meter-deep Pacific Ocean waters southwest of Tokyo when typhoon seas cut short the dive. When Kaiko surfaced, it was missing its instrumented rover, which detaches from the main body to get a closer look at targets. Its tethering cable had snapped.

    The support ship is now searching for the rover, which can emit a radio beacon for about 10 days. “We haven't given up yet,” says Shozo Tashiro, head of Kaiko planning for the Japan Marine Science and Technology Center (JAMSTEC) in Yokosuka.

    Kaiko was put into service in 1995 and can dive to 11,000 meters, enabling it to explore the deepest ocean trenches. Replacing the rover would cost far less than the $38 million spent to build the entire system, Tashiro says. But it would take time, because its sensors and components were specially engineered to withstand extreme pressures. Meanwhile, an array of research—including deep ocean biological exploration and more drilling surveys—are on hold. JAMSTEC hopes to fill some gaps with other submersibles.