Keeping Women Scientists in the Academic Pipeline

Dr. Nathalie Petorelli and Dr. Seirian Sumner of the Institute of Zoology in London, an affiliate of the University of Cambridge, recently wrote a commentary in the London Guardian on the lack of women faculty in the sciences. The scientists report that 60 percent of the undergraduates studying biology in Britain are women. But only about one third of the university lecturers hired by biology departments are women. And women make up less than 15 percent of the full professors in the discipline.

So the authors maintain that the problem is not getting women interested in science. Rather the problem is keeping them in the academic pipeline.

They note: “Science is an increasingly competitive environment, with more people competing for diminishing pots of research money. Those that work the hardest, network the most effectively, and go where the best job opportunities are will be the ones that succeed. Yet in a society where parental care falls mostly to women, where salaries still favor men, where compromises in domestic life are more readily expected from women, and where childcare is costly and rarely easily accessible at the work place, maximizing your chances of academic success while aspiring to build a family can look quite incompatible for most women.”

The authors go on to recommend several steps than can be taken so that “mechanisms are put in place for the career costs of parenthood to be more equally distributed between men and women.”

The entire article can be read here.

Filed Under: FacultyGender GapNetworking


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