International Perspectives on Increasing Workforce Participation, Advancement and Leadership
Edited by Diana Bilimoria and Linley Lord
Chapter 9: Professional societies and gender equity in STEM
The flow of women through the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) pipeline to top positions in academia and industry is hampered by low volume and big, leaking cracks in the pipe itself. A strong push to ratchet up participation is currently underway in the United States, with an emphasis on attracting more girls and women to STEM fields and professions. The main assumption is that filling the pipeline will ultimately produce women in top positions, but this ignores the issue of chronic leakage in academia. Just as moving more water through a permeable pipe does not fix the leak, simply recruiting women and girls into STEM fields does not fix systemic problems that hinder women’s advancement and result in gender disparate representation in the upper echelons of STEM fields. The Association for Women in Science (AWIS) is actively working to identify reasons why women leak out of the STEM pipeline and to provide solutions through programs and advocacy to address the underlying leakage factors. The “chilly climate” for women in STEM, lagging promotion behind men to upper positions, a lack of policies that facilitate work–life accommodation, and implicit gender bias are key examples of inherent systemic factors contributing to the attrition of women from STEM fields (Blickenstaff, 2005; Morris and Daniel, 2008). In this chapter, we highlight gender disparity in scholarly recognition as a crucial element of the attrition process.
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