Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Gender Imbalance in Intramural NIH Scientists

This article reporting on a study conducted by the NIH on its intramural female scientists doesn't come as a surprise. The article goes on to report that women are more likely to make career concessions than men and that a change in academic and scientific culture will be necessary to combat the gender gap. (Don't hold your breath!) It also says that while men and women rate themselves equally when it comes to professional skills, women are less confident that they will obtain PI positions and receive tenure.

I find it interesting that the story has long been "more women trained in science and admitted to university, graduate school, and postdocs will soon translate to more women in tenured and PI positions." That seems so hopelessly naive to me. The reality is that something is wrong with the system and the culture (of academia, research, and the "rest of the world") and that throwing more women into the system at the lower level isn't going to magically solve the problem.
clipped from www.nih.gov

Although women comprise nearly half of all undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral scientists nationwide, after committing 10 to 15 years to scientific training, many leave academic research during the career transition to faculty or tenured positions. For example, at the NIH, only 29 percent of the tenure-track principal investigators (PI) and 19 percent of tenured PIs — the NIH equivalent of assistant and full professors, respectively — are women. These figures have hardly changed over the last decade and mirror the disparities at most academic research institutions.

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