Women in science: Under the microscope

Jan 14, 2013

Innovative women in science are increasingly rising to prominence, such as the winners of the 2013 Women in Science Awards from L'Oréal and UNESCO. However, women fill less than 25 percent of positions in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) in the U.S., and the ones who get STEM degrees usually end up in education or health care, not science.

A report by the Women in Global Science and Technology notes that fewer females are entering science and technology careers, for a variety of reasons. Professor Lesley Yellowlees, the first female president of the Royal Society of Chemistry, describes barriers to women such as inflexible working hours, sexist recruitment policies and an overall “macho culture.” For example, science professors ranked female job applicants as less competent than identical male applicants in a recent Yale study. Also, women may be deterred from pursuing science faculty positions due to the relocations common in the post-doctoral phase and the daunting workload.

The news is not all bad, however. Females generally earn the most in health care, science and tech, or business, according to Forbes' list of the best-paying jobs for women. Social media forums, "STEMinars”, online mentoring and internships are creating more opportunities for aspiring women scientists, and 15-year-old girls in the U.S. actually have higher scientific ambitions than boys of the same age.


AWIS Applauds New Study Documenting Low Numbers of Women in Science and Technology Fields, Association for Women in Science, 2012, http://awis.org/associations/9417/files/AWIS_Applauds_New_Study.pdf
L'Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science Announces the Five Laureates of its 15th Annual Awards, Reuters, October 2012, http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/19/idUS101767+19-Oct-2012+PRN20121019
New Science Boss Attacks Coalition Over Lack of Top Women in the Lab, The Guardian, June 2012, http://www.theguardian.com/science/2012/jun/17/macho-culture-chemistry-royal-society

For a complete list of sources, please view the infographic.

Women in Science: Under the Microscope

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