Does Gender Discrimination Discourage Women From Pursuing Academic Careers in the Hard Sciences?

A study conducted at Rice University in Houston found that both men and women scientists believe gender discrimination is a major reason why women do not choose to pursue careers in the natural sciences. The study surveyed more than 2,500 scientists at major research universities in the United States.

Both men and women agreed that discrimination played a role. But men tended to believe that women were steered away from the hard sciences early in their educational lives. In contrast, women believed that they continued to face gender discrimination at the university level.

Lead author Elaine Howard Ecklund, an associate professor of sociology at Rice University, stated, “It is extremely important to understand how scientists at the kind of top research universities we studied feel about this topic, as they train the next generation of researchers and leaders in the sciences and will pass on their ideas to these young scholars.”

The research was published in the October issues of the journal Gender and Society and can be downloaded here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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  1. TM says:

    Are you aware of scientific studies that actually address gender discrimination at the University level? For example a gender gap in the rate of tenure denial, the rate of promotion to full professor, and more generally longitudinal studies of tenure track careers (tenure denial rates for example might be misleading because some professors do not even apply for tenure). Statistical gender disparities would not in itself be proof of discrimination but they would refute the hypothesis that it is only at early stages that women are discouraged from careers in hard sciences.

    Incidentally, strong evidence for actual discrimination by faculty – both male and female – was recently published in PNAS,

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