Unsettling stats about women in science

Written by: Lisa Stelzner

Primary Source: Daily Dose of Science Blog

This blog post by Katie Burke sums up many well-known and less-known statistics abut women in science, yet also provides some realistic solutions to the problems. A lot of press has recently been given to how women are paid less than men, and leave academia in high numbers after receiving a PhD, and even the sexual harassment and aggression women experience in the workplace. However, hearing that women scientists are less likely to receive funding, or receive much lower amounts of funding (around $80,000 less than men), and peer-review of scientific articles is gender-biased, has not been as widely publicized in my opinion.  Some facts surprised me to think about, but made sense – for example, ecologists move around for an average of 22 years of their adult life, for college, grad school, and post-docs, before finding a tenure-track position and settling down somewhere.  (I myself have already spent almost 13 years of my adult life in school so far, with a 3-year break to work.)

The author states that increased mentorship from women in higher positions, speaking out about sexist discrimination, having a community of supportive male and female allies, and better benefits and pay for postdocs could all help female scientists succeed in the workplace or academia.  I agree. At least one positive is that we are having these conversations in the media now, and some people are working towards change.


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Lisa Stelzner
I'm a plant biology PhD student studying monarch butterflies in Michigan, but I'm interested in lots of other types of science, too. I am interested in how breeding monarch butterflies choose their habitat based on floral species richness and abundance. Few studies have been conducted on optimal foraging theory when it involves an organism searching for two different kinds of resources, and butterflies are an ideal study system to investigate this, since many species are ovipositing specialists and only lay eggs on one species of hostplant, but are feeding generalists and nectar from a broad variety of flowering forbs.