Jezebel discusses women in science

For those interested, there’s a blog post on Jezebel Why are there so few women scientists? The post reviews an article by Sylvia Ann Hewlett author of a longer report, that’ll be available next month.

It’s a popular item with over 5,000 views (in two days!) and 200 interesting comments (no I didn’t read them all, but I did scan some.) In case you don’t make it to the site (or the comments,) I posted the following, which quotes Hewlett on the impact that family care may have on a career, and some potential solutions:

“Thank you for this post. As a toxicologist, mother of two kids and editor of the recently published Motherhood the Elephant in the Laboratory: women scientists speak out, I would suggest while some women do drop from science – many do not – but seek alternative careers. And while many make significant contributions to science in these different roles – they are not always “counted,” or worse, they are considered science drop-outs. Further, as discussed in a recent Motherhood the Elephant panel at Cornell University, employers would do well to consider creative ways to retain or attract this talented, educated pool of workers.

As Hewlett writes in her Financial Times article,
“Because women still bear the brunt of childcare and the care of elderly relatives, few are able to sustain these pressures. The cumulative result: women find themselves shunted to the sidelines into roles as executors or helpers, while men continue to occupy the more celebrated creator and producer roles.
So what to do? This research allows companies to pinpoint the “fight-or-flight” moment. Women experience a breaking point in their mid to late 30s because they hit career hurdles and encounter family pressures at the same time. Stepping in with targeted support before this happens could lower the female attrition rate significantly. Here are five ways employers can help women scientists and engineers stay on track in their careers….”

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