Barriers to women in academic science and engineering.

Addressing Gender Biases and
Stereotypes in the STEM Careers
Mona Bapat, Ph.D.
Melissa Johnson, M.A.
December 5, 2012
 Quiz answers
 Outline for today
 Landscape of women in STEM
 Group discussion
 Solutions
Where are the Women?
 2007 Bureau of Labor Statistics found that rates of
women in the following fields are:
 27% of computer scientists
 12% of civil engineers
 7% of engineering managers
 51% of those earning research doctorates are now
women. 25% or less of those women achieve full
professorship in academic departments.
 Biological sciences: 20.2%
 Chemistry: 12.1%
 Physics: 6.6%
Challenge for Mothers
2002 US Census
 Of the women with graduate degrees and who have
children under the age of 1,
 46% of them work full-time, and
 17% of them work part-time.
 Of educated women with children up to 18 years of
 59% are working full-time and
 18% are working part-time.
The most cited explanations for
women's lack of participation in
Lack of early preparation.
Lack of parental encouragement.
Concerns about balancing career with family.
Negative perceptions about the life of a scientist.
Limited access to role models and mentors.
Why Does this Matter?
 Opportunity cost of intellectual capital.
 Loss of successful women who can serve as role
models and mentors for future generations of
 Lack of women’s own sense of accomplishment and
autonomy with regard to professional identities.
 Inequity in male versus female perspectives in
shaping work and future directions.
Quotes from Research
 “I have the symptoms of the insecure woman. A comment from a professor can cripple me. I
would be self-deprecating. My science is different because of my socialization, not my gender.” –
female graduate student
 “Their job aspirations are so low, their self-confidence is so low, they tend not to apply for what
they see as a very touch place” –male faculty member
 “On my first day of walking into my department I had an engagement ring on my finger. (My
adviser’s) attitude was “families and graduate programs don’t go together very well.” First he
was worried I was going to blow my first year planning my wedding. I got a lot of flack about
that and so did other women…teasing. “so and so’s not going to get much work done this
semester because she’ll be planning her wedding.” (sarcastically) The guy’s don’t plan
weddings.” – female graduate student
 “(In lab meetings) you feel very self conscious saying what you think and I think its because you
are a woman. They would just as soon you would sit back and be quiet and when they ask you if
it turned red or green, (you say) ‘it turned red’ rather than saying ‘it turned red and this is what
we are going to do next.” – female graduate student
 “I had one student who was having her child in the middle of the semester and was to take and
pass her qualifiers at the end of the semester. She wanted to do it. I said, ‘don’t do it’. . . Because
of the emotional state you are in and the physical state after having a baby. We discussed this at
length at one of our meetings . . . She ended up not doing it” – female faculty member
 “It’s always a thing where being invisible, you don’t exist, It was a sense, I didn’t exist” – female
graduate student
Psychological Factors
 Overt Discrimination
 Double-Bind
 Micro-aggressions
 Implicit Bias
 Implicit Associations Tests
 Stereotype Threat
 Situational cues can trigger women’s concerns about
being stereotyped leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Small Group Discussion
Let’s get back into our groups and discuss:
 What are your career goals as they stand today?
 What are barriers to achieving these goals?
 What can you do to stay on-track with those goals?
Solutions for Graduate School
 Case studies of physics programs:
 Maintain relationship with department alumni.
 Supportive department culture that focuses on strong
 Mentoring programs were available.
 Publication productivity partially accounts for
decreased rank for women in STEM fields.
 Focus on doing publishable research early on in training.
 Specifically ask for mentoring in this area.
 Utilize counseling services.
Solutions Post-Graduate School
 Give selves permission to focus on career goals. (e.g.
 Growing evidence that majority of both men and
women want balanced lives.
 Linda Hirshman’s “Strategic Plan to Get to Work”
 Never quit a job until you have another one.
 Bargain for a just household.
 Stop electing governments that punish women’s work.
Work to Challenge Gender
Stereotypes on a Daily Basis!
 Language we use.
 “woman” instead of “girl”
 “parent” instead of “mother”
 Giving ourselves permission to not take on all duties
in the home that have traditionally been the ones to
belong to women.
Thank you!
 Mona Bapat, Ph.D. , Staff Therapist
[email protected]
 Melissa Johnson, M.A., Pre-doctoral Psychology Intern
[email protected]
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
(765) 494-6995
 Bernstein, B.L., & Russo, N.F. (2008). In Paludi. M. (Ed.). The psychology of
women at work: Challenges and solutions for our female workforce. Volume II:
Obstacles and the identity juggle. [pp. 1-33]. Princeton, NJ: Praeger
 Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology. Data derived from
Cooperative Institutional Research Program, Higher Education Research
Institute, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University
of California, Los Angeles, The American Freshman: National Norms for Fall
1990 through Fall 2006,
 Etzkowitz, H., Kemelgor, C., Neuschatz, M., Uzzi, B. (1994). In W. Person Jr.
and I. Fechter (eds.) Barriers to women in academic science and engineering.
Who Will do Science? Educating the Next Generation. (pp.43-67). Baltimore:
Johns Hopkins University Press.
 Fox, M.F. (2001). Women, science, and academia: Graduate education and
careers. Gender and Society, 15, 654-666.
 Hill, C., Corbett, C., & St. Rose, A. (2010). Why so few. Retrieved from
 Hirshman, L.R. (2006). Get to work: A manifesto for women of the world. New
York, NY: The Penguin Group.
References Cont.
 Sax, L.J. (2001). Undergraduate science majors: Gender differences in who
goes to graduate school. The Review of Higher Education, 24, 153-172.
 The National Academies. (2007). Beyond bias and barriers: Fulfilling the
potential of women in academic science and engineering. Washington, D.C.:
The National Academies Press.
 Whitten, Barbara et al. (2003). What works? Increasing the participation of
women in undergraduate physics. Journal of Women and Minorities in
Science and Engineering, 9(3&4).
 Whitten, Barbara et al. (2004). Like a Family: What works to create friendly
and respectful student-faculty interactions. Journal of Women and Minorities
in Science and Engineering, 10(3).
 Whitten, Barbara et al. (2007). What works for women in undergraduate
physics and what we can learn from women's colleges. Journal of Women
and Minorities in Science and Engineering, 13(1).

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