In the previous post, we covered a book about the science glass ceiling which was published 17 years ago. Since 2004, the landscape for women in STEM has begun to change. The article Women in STEM: A Legacy of Achievement Cracks the Glass Ceiling, published in 2010, reported impressive gains for women in science. It said that women earned 58% of the bachelor’s degrees in STEM awarded in 2006, with a high of over 77% in psychology and 62% in biology. People of color also earned an increasing percentage of STEM bachelor’s degrees, and underrepresented minorities were just as likely to earn bachelor’s degrees in STEM as any other field. But the article also reported continuing challenges. Only 20% of bachelor’s degrees in physics, engineering and computer science were earned by women in 2006. Still, it is careful to highlight the many positive changes that have happened. These changes are thanks in part to programs funded by the National Science Foundation. The article also emphasizes ways to keep moving forward and continue to improve conditions for women in STEM, encouraging teachers to promote a “growth mindset” to encourage young girls to pursue science.
Archives for January 2022
There are many great books and articles about gender equity in STEM. The MSU ADVANCE team has found many that are worth sharing. One such book, The Science Glass Ceiling: Academic Women Scientists and the Struggle to Succeed, is not only a great resource on this subject but also closely tied to the NSF ADVANCE program itself. Written by Sue V. Rosser, this 2004 book is a record of interviews with women scientists. The interviews provide insight into some of the challenges faced by women in scientific fields. These include work-life balance issues, lack of female mentors, stereotyping, and harassment.
In the book, Rosser interviews about 400 women scientists who received Professional Opportunities for Women in Research and Education (POWRE) awards from the National Science Foundation. She asked them about their careers and the climate in their departments. She also asked about barriers to advancement that they had experienced. The interviews featured in the book show the structural and systemic inequities that each woman had been able to overcome. The data collected from the interviews conducted leads Rosser to propose ways to remove the barriers faced by these women. Rosser emphasizes that the way to solve these problems is by fixing the system, not the women. All the scientists interviewed showed great talent and resilience, and it was through no fault of theirs that they faced hardship. The most pressing concern, according to Rosser, was work-life balance. She suggests several institutional reforms.
The Science Glass Ceiling also goes over a history of the creation of the NSF ADVANCE grant. It was created after studies like this book shed light on institutional and academic cultures that pushed women away from science. The National Science Foundation was influenced by this book and others to create programs which helped women. This book provides a valuable record of issues faced by women in STEM. It is a powerful read for anyone interested in learning more about this issue.