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Women in Science: a multi-issue series

Apr 2011 | admin No Comment

Women are awesome at pipettingAmong graduate students, at least in the biosciences, the numbers of females is equal, if not greater than, the number of males. Yet no one can deny that there are still proportionally fewer female faculty members.

There is much speculation about why this could be. Has the ratio among trainees not had a chance to “trickle up” yet? Or are women, as they enter their late twenties and thirties, “dropping out” off the research path due to the demands of the research path? Is the work-life balance (or lack thereof) expected of young faculty simply incompatible with starting a family? Are women working fewer work hours because they carry more of the homemaking/childcare burden? Other hypotheses suggest that subtle gender discrimination or sexism in academia are at work: women need to work harder to achieve the same recognition as their male counterparts. Or could it be that women are socialized from a young age to be less confident in their academic abilities, and because of this more insecure mindset, do not give themselves the same chances to succeed?

Understandably, this is a touchy subject, one that many people feel uncomfortable even broaching. I hope to open up a useful discussion about the subject by soliciting anonymous opinions and thoughts from MCB affiliates – both male and female, at different stages of their careers in order to gain insight into the issue.

Be on the lookout for our Catalyst surveys in the coming months, and check back in our next issue to see what other MCB affiliates had to say.

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