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
The National Science Foundation has released a report which finds that, as of 2008, women were 31.79% of all faculty holding science, engineering, and health doctorates at colleges and universities in the U.S. Only 9% of all such doctorates were awarded to underrepresented minorities (blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians/Alaska Natives) in 2008. Examining faculty with SEH doctorates by race, they found that white women were 31.55%, Asian women were 27.54%, black women were 43.37%, Hispanic women were 37.35%, women of two or more races 38.46%, and women of other races were 33.33%.

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
The Economics and Statistics Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce has issued a new report on "Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation." The report concludes, "Although women fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 25 percent of STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] jobs. This has been the case throughout the past decade, even as college educated women have increased their share of the overall workforce." The report also found that "Women with STEM jobs earned 33 percent more than comparable women in non-STEM jobs –considerably higher than the STEM premium for men. As a result, the gender wage gap is smaller in STEM jobs than in non-STEM jobs." The report found that there is a 14% gender wage gap in STEM positions.

Lack of Women Faculty in the Sciences
A Women in Academia Report cites the work of Drs. Nathalie Petorelli and Sierian Sumner, who find evidence of a "leaky pipeline" for women in academic sciences in Britain. About 60% of those graduating with degrees in biology are women, but women hold under 15% of full professorships in biology. The authors make a number of recommendations to combat this issue.



Importance of Underrepresented Minorities in Science
A new National Academies report says that U.S. science and engineering must involve underrepresented minorities in order for the nation to keep its competitive edge.

Informal Codes Hinder Women’s Careers in Construction Companies
A New York Times article reports that, in one global engineering construction company, men demanded more responsibility with less training and aggressively worked informal codes of advancement, while women hung back.

Family Pressures Lead to Leaky Pipelines
A UC Berkeley report entitled Keeping Women in the Science Pipeline finds that married women scientists with children are 35% less likely to enter a tenure-track position post-Ph.D. than similar men, and are 28% less likely than women without children to achieve tenure. This report was featured in a New York Times article.



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
Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan researchers find that male professors receive more opportunities to join scientific advisory boards and start new companies than their female peers. These results are due, in part, to gendered co-authorship networks.

News and Events

Gender Bias in Teaching Evaluations

A recent study by Lillian MacNell, Adam Driscoll, and Andrea N. Hunt has demonstrated that students tend to rate instructors they believe to be male more highly than those they believe to be female, regardless of their actual sex. InsideHigherEd features a summary of the experiment and findings.

Thinking Gender Graduate Conference

The UCLA Center for the Study of Women will host Thinking Gender 2015: 25th Annual Graduate Student Research Conference on April 23 and 24, 2015. Find more information here.

Grant Awarded for U.S./Norway Comparative Study on Gender and Work

In 2014, Senior Academic Affiliate Sigtona Halrynjo and colleagues at the Institute for Social Research (ISF) in Oslo received funding from the Research Council of Norway for a large, multi-year project entitled, “Gender Segregation in the Labour Market: Comparative Perspectives and Welfare State Challenges." Mary Blair-Loy will take the lead on a U.S. comparison for a sub-part of this project. The subproject, “Cracks in the glass ceiling? Female career patterns in the United States and Norway,” will compare women executives’ career paths in the two countries. 

Little Change in the Gender Wage Gap

September 2014 Census Bureau data indicates that in 2013 full-time, year-round working women earned 78% of the pay of their male counterparts. This gender wage gap has remained consistent since 2007. Although factors such as hours worked, educational differences, and job type account for some of this pay difference, 10-40% of the gender wage gap is unexplained. The Center for American Progress recommends seven steps to reduce the gap, including raising the minimum wage, supporting pay transparency, and passing sick days legislation.

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 in the San Diego Union-Tribune, 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.






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