DemographicsLife Sciences

Gender equality: ‘No room at the top for women scientists’

According to scientists, the amount of females climbing the career ladder in science is “deceptively small.”

According to information from 500 science organizations around the world, women make up half of learners in life sciences, but only one in four teachers. The primary issue is to keep females in important roles and promote them, the research found.

It discovered that females were less likely to serve in commissions or talk at science conferences. Other factors included unconscious bias, work-life balance tensions, poor financing and pay, and lack of opportunities for networking.

What did the studies conclude?

The information, released in the Cell Stem Cell newspaper, came from 541 colleges and research organizations in the U.S., Europe and Australia in 38 nations. Women made up more than half of undergraduate and postgraduate learners, 42% of assistant teachers and 23% of complete teachers, although rates varied according to institution.

What are the lessons learned?

The results support many women’s views in science that more needs to be done to tackle the “leaky pipeline” issue-where women leave the profession due to issues such as harassment and promotion and pay issues.

“If the scheme is set up to exclude them, there is no point in promoting more girls into science,” Dr. Jessica Wade of Imperial College London, who supports females in physics but was not linked to this specific research, informed the BBC.

“Improving gender balance in science will take institutional commitments to support women in their applications for promotion, act when there are reports of sexual harassment or bullying and make work allocation more transparent.”

The Royal Society of Chemistry said its own study, Breaking the Barriers, which looked at the image in the UK, showed a comparable picture—44% of undergraduate chemists are women — but only 9% of teachers are females.

“More worryingly, a staggering 99% of women told us they had experienced or witnessed barriers to women’s progression and retention,” said Dr Jo Reynolds, director of science & communities.

They intend to launch a helpline to tackle the problem and are investigating whether there is gender bias within scientific publishing-the cornerstone of a career in studies. Women throughout history have produced significant contributions to science, but have been constantly underrepresented at all levels.

A latest research discovered that, considering the present pace of progress, it will take hundreds of years to close the gender gap in physics.

Article originally featured by BBC.

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