As many may know by now there’s a new report out, The Athena Factor: Reversing the Brain Drain in Science, Engineering and Technology, published as a Harvard Business Review research report. While I couldn’t get very far without shelling out $295, there are lots of snippets online. If you go to the Bean Chronicles , where I first found reference to the report you can click on a longer ABC article about the report, which found that:
“Even in the face of a worsening worldwide labor shortage of qualified professionals in the SET fields, 52% of our best and brightest female scientists, engineers and technologists are bailing on hard-earned careers and not looking back — precisely when they should be hitting their professional strides.”
With funding by several major corporations, the report then goes on to discuss details on programs designed to retain women scientists through
“several innovative corporate “antibody” initiatives being instituted by Alcoa, Pfizer and other private sector companies who are looking to reduce and reverse the costly “female brain drain” head on.”
What I tried to find, and couldn’t was where those women went – while there was some reference to men who also leave but who tend to “stay in the sciences” – there are some suggestions that women do not. Yet – without access to the full report it’s hard to tell what boundaries were set. Did “sticking with it” mean setting up the equivalent of a full-time 60-hr intense path – or did it include those who strike out into very different realms, like teaching – perhaps at Community colleges or high school? Or writing? Or part-time? I’d love to know (so if you’ve got access to the full report please let us know!) Either way – it seems a primary goal of the report is to stanch the flow – or exodus – by providing details on corporate success stories.
Along these lines, the Bean Chronicles also directed me to another great blog, The Alternative Scientist, check it out. Below is an excerpt from Alternative’s discussion on her own title (I chose this because the topic of wording came up at a recent Motherhood panel. While I used Alternative to collectively describe the many different career paths described in some of the Motherhood essays – some felt there is a negative connotation to the word. )
“Is there resentment at having my career be labelled “alternative”? The word “alternative” does not bother me. In my experience, the people who are most likely to be bitter and resentful about that word are those who are in alternative positions because they tried and failed on the tenure track. As far as I am concerned, “alternative” is a convenient catch-all term for what I view to be choices that do not receive equal and fair coverage in discussions about career options among academics.
Of course, it would be better if there were no “traditional” or “alternative” career paths…just different career paths. But I think quibbling about semantics is a low-yield and impractical activity. For example, we could call this blog “The Everything-But-Academic-Tenure-Track Scientist” or “The Differently-Traditional Scientist” or all sorts of other names that do not include the word “alternative”. I don’t believe that that would change the minds of those who think that people with alternative careers are failures. A much more effective way of changing academic culture with regard to career options is to promote open discussion and to encourage people to make career choices based on what they want to do rather than what they think they are expected to do. And that is precisely what I hope this blog will accomplish.” – From http://alternative-scientist.blogspot.com/.
Alternative is definitely a site to keep track of, thanks Bean!