Conclusions of "Beyond Bias and Barriers", a study performed by a committee of the National Academies of Science and published in 2007
(I truncated some of these.)
1. Women have the ability and drive to succeed in science and engineering.
2. Women who are interested in science and engineering careers are lost
at every educational transition.
3. The problem is not simply the pipeline. In several fields, the pipeline
has reached gender parity.
4. Women are very likely to face discrimination in every field of science
and engineering. Considerable research has shown the barriers limiting the
appointment, retention, and advancement of women faculty. Overall, scientists
and engineers who are women or members of racial or ethnic minority
groups have had to function in environments that favor—sometimes
deliberately but often inadvertently—the men who have traditionally dominated
science and engineering. Well-qualified and highly productive women
scientists have also had to contend with continuing questioning of their
own abilities in science and mathematics and their commitment to an academic
career. Minority-group women are subject to dual discrimination
and face even more barriers to success. As a result, throughout their careers,
women have not received the opportunities and encouragement provided to
men to develop their interests and abilities to the fullest; this accumulation
of disadvantage becomes acute in more senior positions.
5. A substantial body of evidence establishes that most people—men
and women—hold implicit biases. Decades of cognitive psychology research
reveals that most of us carry prejudices of which we are unaware but that
nonetheless play a large role in our evaluations of people and their work.
An impressive body of controlled experimental studies and examination of
decision-making processes in real life show that, on the average, people are
less likely to hire a woman than a man with identical qualifications, are less
likely to ascribe credit to a woman than to a man for identical accomplishments,
and, when information is scarce, will far more often give the benefit
of the doubt to a man than to a woman. Although most scientists and
engineers believe that they are objective and intend to be fair, research
shows that they are not exempt from those tendencies.
6. Evaluation criteria contain arbitrary and subjective components that
disadvantage women. Women faculty are paid less, are promoted more
slowly, receive fewer honors, and hold fewer leadership positions than men.
These discrepancies do not appear to be based on productivity, the significance
of their work, or any other measure of performance. Progress in
academic careers depends on evaluation of accomplishments by more senior
scientists, a process widely believed to be objective. Yet measures of
success underlying the current “meritocratic” system are often arbitrary
and applied in a biased manner (usually unintentionally). Characteristics
that are often selected for and are believed, on the basis of little evidence, to
relate to scientific creativity—namely assertiveness and single-mindedness—
are given greater weight than other characteristics such as flexibility, diplomacy,
curiosity, motivation, and dedication, which may be more vital to
success in science and engineering. At the same time assertiveness and
single-mindedness are stereotyped as socially unacceptable traits for women.
7. Academic organizational structures and rules contribute significantly
to the underuse of women in academic science and engineering.
8. The consequences of not acting will be detrimental to the nation’s
To facilitate clear, evidence-based discussion of the issues, the committee
compiled a list of commonly held beliefs concerning women in science
and engineering (Table S-1). Each is discussed and analyzed in detail in the
text of the report.ZL again- I like this one best:
Belief: Women are not as competitive as men. Women don’t want jobs in academe.
Evidence: Similar proportions of men and women science and engineering doctorates plan to enter postdoctoral study or academic employment.ZL again- the idea that women don't want academic jobs as much as men do is just not true.