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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25585.
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Promising Practices for Addressing the
Underrepresentation of Women in
Science, Engineering, and Medicine

OPENING DOORS

Rita Colwell, Ashley Bear, and Alex Helman, Editors

Committee on Increasing the Number of Women in Science,
Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine (STEMM)

Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine

Policy and Global Affairs

A Consensus Study Report of

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25585.
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This activity was supported by contracts between the National Academy of Sciences and The National Institutes of Health (#10004234), the National Science Foundation (#10003816), and L’Oreal USA. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.

International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-49824-1
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Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25585.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25585.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25585.
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Consensus Study Reports published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine document the evidence-based consensus on the study’s statement of task by an authoring committee of experts. Reports typically include findings, conclusions, and recommendations based on information gathered by the committee and the committee’s deliberations. Each report has been subjected to a rigorous and independent peer-review process and it represents the position of the National Academies on the statement of task.

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25585.
×

COMMITTEE ON INCREASING THE NUMBER OF WOMEN IN SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, MATHEMATICS, AND MEDICINE (STEMM)1

[December 11, 2019 - March 31, 2020]

RITA COLWELL, Ph.D. (Chair) [NAS],2 Distinguished University Professor, University of Maryland at College Park and Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health; former Director, National Science Foundation; former Chair, National Academies Committee on Women in Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

GILDA A. BARABINO, Ph.D. [NAE], Daniel and Frances Berg Professor and Dean, The Grove School of Engineering, The City College of New York; current member, National Academies Committee on Women in Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

MAY R. BERENBAUM, Ph.D. [NAS], Swanlund Professor of Entomology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Editor-in-Chief, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America; current member, National Academies Committee on Women in Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

VIVIAN W. PINN, M.D. [NAM], Founding Director (retired), Office of Research on Women’s Health, National Institutes of Health; former member, National Academies Committee on Women in Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

BILLY WILLIAMS, M.S., Vice President for Ethics, Diversity, and Inclusion, American Geophysical Union

Study Staff

ASHLEY BEAR, Ph.D, Study Director, Senior Program Officer, Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine

ALEX HELMAN, Ph.D, Program Officer, Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine

THOMAS RUDIN, M.S., Director, Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine

ARIELLE BAKER, Ph.D., Associate Program Officer, Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine

___________________

1 The Committee on Increasing the Number of Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine (STEMM) and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) are solely responsible for the final content of the report.

2 Designates membership in the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), National Academy of Engineering (NAE), or National Academy of Medicine (NAM).

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25585.
×

MARQUITA WHITING, Senior Program Assistant, Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine

ADRIANA COUREMBIS, Financial Officer, Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine

LAYNE SCHERER, M.P.P., Senior Program Officer, Board on Higher Education and Workforce

LIDA BENINSON, Ph.D., Senior Program Officer, Board on Higher Education and Workforce

FRAZIER BENYA, Ph.D., Senior Program Officer, Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine

MARIA LUND DAHLBERG, M.S., Program Officer, Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine

IRENE NGUN, M.S., Associate Program Officer, Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine

AUSTEN APPLEGATE, Research Associate, Board on Higher Education and Workforce

Consultants

JENNIFER SAUNDERS, Ph.D., Writer and Rapporteur

MICHELLE RODRIGUES, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Illinois

KATHRYN CLANCY, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Illinois

EVAVA PIETRI, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis

CORINNE MOSS-RACUSIN, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Skidmore College

LESLIE ASHBURN-NARDO, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis

JOJANNEKE VAN DER TOORN, Ph.D., Professor, Leiden University

CHRISTINE LINDQUIST, Ph.D., RTI International

TASSELI McCAY, M.P.H., Social Science Researcher, Division of Applied Justice Research, RTI International

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25585.
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COMMITTEE ON UNDERSTANDING AND ADDRESSING THE UNDERREPRESENTATION OF WOMEN IN PARTICULAR SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING DISCIPLINES1

(October 5, 2018 - December 10, 2019)

MAE JEMISON, M.D., (Chair) [NAM],2 President and Founder the Jemison Group, Inc., Principal, 100 Year Starship

DIANA BILIMORIA, Ph.D., KeyBank Professor and Chair, Department of Organizational Behavior, Case Western Reserve University

JOHN C. BOOTHROYD, Ph.D., (NAS), Burt and Marion Avery Professor of Immunology, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs, Stanford University

PHYLLIS L. CARR, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and Physician in the Women’s Health Associates, Massachusetts General Hospital

SAPNA CHERYAN, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Washington

JAIME CURTIS-FISK, Ph.D., Scientist, The Dow Chemical Company

ELENA FUENTES-AFFLICK, MD, MPH (NAM), Professor of Pediatrics and Vice Dean for Academic Affairs, University of California, San Francisco (resigned November 2019)

IRENE FONSECA, Ph.D., Kavčić-Moura University Professor of Mathematics, Carnegie Mellon University

ANN Q. GATES, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Department of Computer Science, The University of Texas at El Paso

KELLY M. MACK, Ph.D., Vice President for Undergraduate STEM Education, Executive Director, Project Kaleidoscope, Association of American Colleges and Universities

RONKE OLABISI, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Samueli Faculty Development Chair, Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of California, Irvine

PATRICIA RANKIN, Ph.D., Professor of Physics, Department of Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder

___________________

1 The members of the Committee on Understanding and Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Particular Science and Engineering Disciplines contributed actively to the content of the report from October 5, 2018, to December 10, 2019, and deserve special recognition for their substantial intellectual contributions. They are not responsible for the content of this report, including the findings and recommendations.

2 Designates membership in the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), National Academy of Engineering (NAE), or National Academy of Medicine (NAM).

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25585.
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KEIVAN G. STASSUN, Ph.D., Stevenson Professor of Physics & Astronomy, Professor of Computer Science, and Director of the Frist Center for Autism & Innovation at Vanderbilt University

DENISE SEKAQUAPTEWA, Ph.D., University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor of Psychology, University of Michigan

SONYA T. SMITH, Ph.D., President-elect Sigma Xi: The Scientific Research Honor Society, and Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Howard University

STEVEN J. SPENCER, Ph.D., Robert K. and Dale J. Weary Chair, Social Psychology, Ohio State University

ABIGAIL J. STEWART, Ph.D., Sandra Schwartz Tangri Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Study Staff

MARILYN BAKER, Study Director (October 2019-December 2019)

ASHLEY BEAR, Ph.D., Study Director (October 2018-September 2019), Senior Program Officer, Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine

ALEX HELMAN, Ph.D., Program Officer, Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine

THOMAS RUDIN, M.S., Director, Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine

ARIELLE BAKER, Ph.D., Associate Program Officer, Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine

MARQUITA WHITING, Senior Program Assistant, Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine

JOHN VERAS, Senior Program Assistant, Board on Higher Education and Workforce

ADRIANA COUREMBIS, Financial Officer, Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine

Consultants

KATHLEEN COLGAN, Ph.D., Writer

JENNIFER SAUNDERS, Ph.D., Writer and Rapporteur

MICHELLE RODRIGUES, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Illinois

KATHRYN CLANCY, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Illinois

EVAVA PIETRI, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis

CORINNE MOSS-RACUSIN, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Skidmore College

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25585.
×

LESLIE ASHBURN-NARDO, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis

JOJANNEKE VAN DER TOORN, Ph.D., Professor, Leiden University

CHRISTINE LINDQUIST, Ph.D., RTI International

TASSELI McCAY, M.P.H., Social Science Researcher, Division of Applied Justice Research, RTI International

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25585.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25585.
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“I hadn’t been aware that there were doors closed to me until I started knocking on them.”

Gertrude B. Elion, 1988 Nobel Laureate in Physiology and Medicine

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25585.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25585.
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Preface

In the 21st century, the fields of science, engineering, and medicine contribute significantly to supporting and advancing our nation’s security, prosperity, and health. However, scientific discoveries, engineering innovations, and medical advances don’t appear out of thin air; they arise from the passion, ingenuity, and hard work of dedicated individuals. To meet the challenges of today, and of those yet to come, full and productive engagement of all members of society is critical.

Unfortunately, many fields of science, engineering, and medicine continue to face a formidable shortage of talent, and women—who make up more than 50 percent of the population—are significantly underrepresented in these fields. Although the number of women pursuing education and careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) has increased in many STEMM fields, and has even reached parity in some of those fields, representation of women in STEMM is a persistent challenge. Women of color are severely underrepresented in every STEMM discipline. Notably, women are underrepresented in engineering, computer science, and physics and at every level. In those fields in which women are at parity among degree earners and early career professionals, such as medicine, they are underrepresented in senior leadership positions.

The data on underrepresentation of women in STEMM and personal stories of the adverse effects of bias, discrimination, and harassment in the scientific enterprise, underline the fact that there is much that needs to be done to improve recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in STEMM. There is reason for optimism to expect that positive change is possible. It is critical for us all to consider the lessons learned from the scholarly research presented in this report and to take note of the many success stories that are described, demonstrating

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25585.
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that an intentional, evidence-based approach in implementing concrete policies, programs, and interventions can yield an incredibly positive impact in a relatively short period of time.

In my career I have had the privilege of considering this issue from many different perspectives: as a scientist, as the leader of a federal agency, as the leader of a scientific institute, as an advisor to government and nonprofit organizations, and, now, as the chair of this study. I come away from these experiences with a strong conviction that the challenge of realizing a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive science, engineering, and medical enterprise can be met with great success, if all stakeholders share the passion, will, and perseverance to achieve positive change.

Rita Colwell, Chair

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25585.
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Special Acknowledgment

This report is the culmination of the work of two committees: the Committee on Increasing the Number of Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine (STEMM) [Rita Colwell, Chair] and the Committee on Understanding and Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Particular Science and Engineering Disciplines (Mae Jemison, Chair). The Committee on Understanding Underrepresentation contributed actively to the report’s content from October 5, 2018, to December 10, 2019, and the Committee on Increasing Women in STEMM contributed actively to the report’s content starting on December 11, 2019, through its review, completion, and publication.

Members of the Committee on Understanding Underrepresentation made substantial intellectual contributions to this report. They are not, however, responsible for the content of this report, including the findings and recommendations. The Committee on Increasing the Number of Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine (STEMM) and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies) are solely responsible for the final content of the report.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25585.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25585.
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Committee Acknowledgments

This committee would like to thank the members of the Committee on Understanding and Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Particular Science and Engineering Disciplines for their diligent work and the substantial intellectual contributions they made to this report. Those committee members analyzed the data on the status of women in multiple STEMM disciplines, documented factors contributing to the persistence of women’s underrepresentation despite decades of efforts to mitigate it, and presented examples of the intentional and unintentional resistance that women face at many levels. They also identified effective intervention programs, provided insights into the importance of institutional context in implementing successful programs, and proposed actions to increase the participation of women and girls in STEMM.

In preparing this report, we drew from the full range of resources that had been assembled for the project, including a significant existing research base, recommendations from previous National Academies reports, three individually authored papers commissioned by the National Academies, existing data sets, and substantial background research and writing by the project staff. We also examined new research and conducted our own analysis, drawing on the evidence and the expertise of committee members. In addition, the report builds significantly on the ideas, interpretations of the research, and conclusions of the members of the Committee on Understanding the Underrepresentation of Women. Their analyses are used extensively in the discussions of data and conclusions from the commissioned research papers in Chapters 2 and 3. Also, many of the strategies to implement changes in academic recruitment, retention, and advancement in Chapter 4—which presents 17 practical strategies for higher education institutions to implement change—are strategies articulated by that committee, whom we gratefully acknowledge.

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25585.
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The committee would also like to acknowledge the work of the consultants who have contributed to the report: Jennifer Saunders, Michelle Rodrigues, Kathryn Clancy, Evava Pietre, Corinne Moss-Racusin, Leslie Ashburn-Nardo, Jojanneke Van Der Toorn, Christine Lindquist, and Tasseli McCay. Their commissioned research and writing contributed substantially to the foundation of evidence presented in the report.

We want also to sincerely thank the staff of this project for their valuable leadership and guidance and for the extensive research and writing activities they undertook in support of the study through their work with both committees. Specifically, we would like to thank Ashley Bear, Alex Helman, and Tom Rudin.

Next, we thank the reviewers of the report. This Consensus Study Report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in making each published report as sound as possible and to ensure that it meets the institutional standards for quality, objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.

We thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Molly Carnes, University of Wisconsin; Gabriele González, Louisiana State University; Eve Higginbotham, University of Pennsylvania; Stacie Furst Holloway, University of Cincinnati; Charles Isbell, Georgia Institute of Technology; Anne-Marie Nunez, Ohio State University; Claire Parkinson, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Charles Phelps, University of Rochester (Emeritus); Julia Phillips, Sandia National Laboratories (Retired); and Joan Reede, Harvard Medical School.

Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations of this report nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Maryellen Giger, University of Chicago, and Catherine Kling, Cornell University. They were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with the standards of the National Academies and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content rests entirely with the authoring committee and the National Academies.

Finally, the committee would like thank the sponsors that made this study possible: the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and L’Oréal USA.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25585.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25585.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25585.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25585.
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Careers in science, engineering, and medicine offer opportunities to advance knowledge, contribute to the well-being of communities, and support the security, prosperity, and health of the United States. But many women do not pursue or persist in these careers, or advance to leadership positions - not because they lack the talent or aspirations, but because they face barriers, including: implicit and explicit bias; sexual harassment; unequal access to funding and resources; pay inequity; higher teaching and advising loads; and fewer speaking invitations, among others.

There are consequences from this underrepresentation of women for the nation as well: a labor shortage in many science, engineering, and medical professions that cannot be filled unless institutions and organizations recruit from a broad and diverse talent pool; lost opportunities for innovation and economic gain; and lost talent as a result of discrimination, unconscious bias, and sexual harassment.

Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine reviews and synthesizes existing research on policies, practices, programs, and other interventions for improving the recruitment, retention, and sustained advancement into leadership roles of women in these disciplines. This report makes actionable recommendations to leverage change and drive swift, coordinated improvements to the systems of education, research, and employment in order to improve both the representation and leadership of women.

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