Science, Technology, & Engineering
Attrition of Women in SET Fields
The Center for Talent Innovation, founded by economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett, issued a report showing that women are 45% more likely than their male counterparts to leave their positions in science, engineering, and technology fields within one year, despite the vast majority reporting enjoyment in and devotion to their work. Almost one-third of both male and female managers indicated that a woman would not reach the highest level in their companies. Similar results are found in other countries as well. The report points to gender bias as the culprit. Read more from The Washington Post.
Exploring the Lack of Women in Science
In this October 2013 New York Times article, Eileen Pollack, a professor of creative writing who excelled in physics during college but did not pursue a graduate degree in the field, reflects on the dearth of women in science. She notes the bias against women that leads to hiring discrimination, lower pay, and additional hurdles in obtaining tenure in STEM disciplines; the cold climates in science classrooms and workplaces; the lack of encouragement and mentorship for female students; the pervasive cultural stereotypes that science is "uncool" and "not feminine" and that women are not as competent as workers compared to men; and the self-fulfilling prophecy that occurs when women are told that they are inferior scientists.
Science and Engineering Professions: The Status of Women and Men
The Center for Research on Gender in the Professions provides its own analysis of gender within the professions of science and engineering. This case study, co-authored by CRGP Senior Academic Affiliate Erin Cech, Graduate Fellow Laura Pecenco, and Director Mary Blair-Loy, utilizes contemporary data and historical comparisons to provide evidence for the persistence of inequality within the field today.
The Stalled Revolution
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead has sparked media uproar, with some vehement supporters and others who criticize her contribution, given her powerful position. A cover story from USA Today on Sandberg's work notes her concern with the stalling of women at the very top in the workplace, and the need for a cultural shift The article also highlights research by Catalyst, which has found that women make up 47% of the workforce but only 4% of CEO positions. It also cites sociologist Shelley Correll, Director of the Clayman Institute for Gender Research, regarding the "stalled revolution" that began in the mid-1990s.
A Step Back for Flexible Work Arrangements
In recent years, many companies have slowly integrated flexible work arrangment policies; some even rely on telecommuting options for the majority of their workers, as cited by NPR. However, Yahoo has announced that it is moving in the opposite direction. In a video from Fortune, CEO Marissa Mayer describes her job as "fun" and having a baby as "easy." Mayer claims that teams must be physically present together to make important decisions. Lisa Belkin provides a critique of Mayer's decision in a Huffington Post article, citing research that demonstrates the numerous beneficial effects of flexible work arrangements to productivity.
Underrepresentation of Women in National Academy of Engineering
Of the 69 new members of the National Academy of Engineering, who are honored for lifetime achievements in their specific fields of engineering, only 5 are women (7%). WIAReport provides more information in their article.
Science Faculty Exhibit Gender Bias
A report released by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences explains findings from a double-blind study testing whether science faculty favor male students. Identical job applications for a laboratory manager position, randomly assigned female or male names, were created and submitted to science faculty in research universities. Both male and female faculty deemed the male applicants more competent, hireable, and deserving of a higher salary and more career mentoring than the female applicants. They found that subtle bias against women was correlated with less support for female students, but was unrelated to reactions to male students. Their findings suggest that working to decrease faculty gender bias could increase the presence of women in science. This research has also been covered in a New York Times article.
Stereotype Threat and Female Scientists
To understand why women are more likely than men to leave their jobs as scientists, psychologists Toni Schamder, of the University of British Columbia, and Matthias Mehl, of the University of Arizona, used electronic recording devices to unobtrusively record random soundbytes of participants' everyday workplace conversations. As reported at NPR, the researchers found that when male and female scientists speak with each other about science, the women report feeling more disengaged with their work. They believe this is caused by stereotype threat, a concept developed by psychologist Claude Steele, which explains how a self-fulfilling prophecy can develop when someone is reminded of a negative stereotype about themselves. While in conversation, the female scientists may be worrying about the stereotype held by their male colleague; such worrying can be distracting and lead to a higher likelihood of sounding incompetent.
NSF Report: Gender and Race of Science Faculty
NSF Proposing Allowances for Work-Family Balance
According to WIAReport, the National Science Foundation has proposed a new rule which allows men and women to suspend their research grants for a period of up to one year to deal with various family matters, such as the birth of a child or the need to care for an elderly parent.
ESA Report on Women in STEM Occupations
Lack of Women Faculty in the Sciences
Importance of Underrepresented Minorities in Science
Informal Codes Hinder Women’s Careers in Construction Companies
Family Pressures Lead to Leaky Pipelines
Gender and Immigrant Status of Biotechnology Firm Founders
Jim McQuaid, CRGP Affiliate Laurel Smith-Doerr, and Daniel J. Monti Jr. analyze the roles of women and immigrants as founders of biotechnology firms in their article "Expanding Entrepreneurship: Female and Foreign-Born Founders of New England Biotechnology Firms," in American Behavioral Scientist. Using a survey of 261 biotech firms in Massachusetts and New England, they find that foreign-born founders are well represented while women founders are underrepresented.
Gender Differences in Academic Scientists' Participation in Commercial Science
News and Events
Project PAINT: The Prison Arts INiTiative
CRGP Graduate Fellow Laura Pecenco's dissertation, entitled "Paint in the Can: Creating Art and Gender in Prison," is a multi-method analysis of the diverse ways in which gender is performed by men in prison art programs. As part of her dissertation research, Pecenco founded Project PAINT: The Prison Arts INiTiative, a visual arts program at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility. Her program has recently been featured as the cover story of San Diego CityBeat and on both Midday Edition and Evening Edition of KPBS. Project PAINT has also now received funding from a partnership of the California Arts Council and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to expand programming.
Workplace Flexibility Stigma
A new study by CRGP Senior Academic Affiliate Erin Cech and Founding Director Mary Blair-Loy has found that flexibility stigma among science faculty is a problem for even childless workers. The article, "Consequences of Flexibility Stigma for Academic Scientists and Engineers," reports that professionals who acknowledge the existence of a flexibility stigma in their workplaces are more likely to consider leaving their places of employment, are less satisfied with their jobs, and feel that they have a more difficult time achieving work-life balance than those who do not indicate the presence of such a stigma. Find more information on this research in Inside Higher Ed and Work in Progress, the blog of the American Sociological Association's Organizations, Occupations, and Work Section.
Understanding Change in Science and Engineering
The Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at UCSD recently released a report, entitled Building the Innovation Economy? The Challenges of Defining, Creating and Maintaining the STEM Workforce, which explores why many workers are leaving this field and how they keep their skill sets current despite regular change. A downloadable copy of the report is available here.
ASA OOW Blog: Work in Progress
Work in Progress, the blog of the Organizations, Occupations, and Work section of the American Sociological Association, provides a sociological perspective on matters related to work as a complement to more mainstream accounts of the subject. The blog is written for the general public, showcasing recent sociological research in the field. Work in Progress recently featured a post with sociologists Julie Kmec, Lindsey Trimble O'Connor, and Scott Schieman, a CRGP Senior Academic Affiliate, regarding the penalties many working mothers believe they face when they adjust their work schedules after having children. Unlike the men in the sample who made similar schedule changes, these mothers report that they feel ignored and are asked to perform the least desirable tasks at their workplaces, whether they reduce or increase their work hours; the authors attribute such reactions by employers and co-workers to perceived violations of norms of "ideal workers" and of cultural expectations of mothers.
Ethics and Engineering Education
The "culture of disengagement" among engineering students has the been the subject of recent work by CRGP Senior Academic Affiliate Erin Cech. She conducted a survey of over 300 engineering students in 4 different university settings. Eighteen months post-graduation, students reported less concern about public welfare and social justice issues than they did as first-year students. Cech suggests that ethics considerations should be more fully integrated into STEM education to prevent such disengagement. Her results appear in both "Culture of Disengagement in Engineering Education?," in Science, Technology, & Human Values, and "Education: Embed social awareness in science curricula," in Nature.