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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
SJR: 0.468 SNIP: 0.671 CiteScore™: 1.65

ISSN Print: 1072-8325
ISSN Online: 1940-431X

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.v9.i2.40
14 pages

IMAGE PROBLEMS DEPLETE THE NUMBER OF WOMEN IN ACADEMIC APPLICANT POOLS

Anna L. W. Sears
Center for Population Biology, Department of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis

ABSTRACT

Despite near numeric parity in graduate schools, women and men in science and mathematics may not perceive the same opportunities for career success. Instead, female doctoral students' career ambitions may often be influenced by perceptions of irreconcilable conflicts between personal and academic goals. This article reports the results of a career goals survey of math and science doctoral students at the University of California, Davis. Fewer women than men began their doctoral programs seeking academic research careers. Of those who initially favored academic research, twice as many women as men downgraded these ambitions during graduate school. Women were more likely to feel geographically constrained by family ties and to express concern about balancing work and family, long work hours, and tenure clock inflexibility. These results partially explain why the percentage of women in academic applicant pools is often well below the number of Ph.D. recipients. The current barriers to gender equity thus cannot be completely ameliorated by increasing the number of women in the pipeline or by altered hiring practices, but changes must be undertaken to make academic research careers more flexible, family friendly, and attractive to women.


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