Participation by women in scientific research is rising—women now outnumber men majoring in biological sciences and the percentage of women awarded doctoral degrees in life sciences grew from 15% in 1969 to 52% in 2009. Yet women’s participation in other STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) still lags; fewer than 20% of undergraduate majors in computer science and engineering are women, and as they rise through the ranks, disparities persist. Women are still underrepresented in faculty positions, female engineers publish in more prestigious journals but their work is cited less frequently, and editorial boards for journals in STEM fields remain overwhelmingly male.

 

Looking beyond academia to consider broader social impact, indicators of unequal participation are worrisome. As women enter the workforce, we see even more differentiation by field, with women comprising 34% of environmental engineers but only 8% of mechanical engineers. Gender imbalances in the technology industry and financial sector are widely recognized. Three recent studies illuminate attitudes and practices limiting women’s advancement in science and technology.

 

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