WHAT MUST BE DONE: A BLUEPRINT FOR ACTION

Career impediments for women deprive the nation of an important source of talented and accomplished scientists and engineers. Transforming institutional structures and processes to eliminate gender bias requires a major national effort, incorporating strong leadership and continuous attention, evaluation, and accountability. It will require persistent diligence and abiding patience.15 The committee’s recommendations are rooted in strategies shown to be successful. They are large-scale and interdependent, and require the combined efforts of university leaders and faculties, professional societies and higher education organizations, funding agencies, federal agencies, and Congress.

Attaining gender equity is a deep cultural problem, one that most scientists would like to see overcome, but one that is likely to persist unless active steps are taken to change the culture in which we live.

—Richard Zare, Chair, Chemistry Department, Stanford University16

Change Institutional Processes to Combat Bias

Faculty members and administrators at all levels need to correct or eliminate the policies and practices that lead to or permit gender bias. How should faculty interact with students? How should young women faculty deal with unwelcome social or sexual advances? How should faculty members work with staff? How should institutions and individuals interview and hire? What are effective, unbiased strategies for evaluating performance? A recent Harvard Task Force developed a comprehensive list of policy actions for improving the retention and advancement of women in science and engineering, across the educational and career path (Box 6-2).

Many women faculty cite workplace climate as an important factor in career satisfaction and decisions about whether to pursue a career in academe.17 All too often, newly minted scientists begin their faculty positions

15

JH Franklin (2005). Mirror to America. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

16

R Zare (2006). Sex, lies, and Title IX. Chemical and Engineering News 84(2):46-49, http://pubs.acs.org/cen/education/84/8420education.html.

17

For example, see LLB Barnes, MO Agago, and WT Coombs (1998). Effects of job-related stress on faculty intention to leave academia. Research in Higher Education 39(4):457-469; P Bronstein and L Farnsworth (1998). Gender differences in faculty experiences of interpersonal climate and processes for advancement. Research in Higher Education 39(5):557-585;



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