Women’s choices — not male bias — explain why so few women advance in science careers, concludes a study by Cornell researchers Stephen Ceci and Wendy Williams, which is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The focus on “sex discrimination in reviewing, interviewing, and hiring represents costly, misplaced effort,” they argue. “Society is engaged in the present in solving problems of the past, rather than in addressing meaningful limitations deterring women’s participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers today.”
Looking at two decades of data, the researchers found that women scientists are more likely than men to step off the career track.
This situation is caused mainly by women’s choices, both freely made and constrained by biology and society, such as choices to defer careers to raise children, follow spouses’ career moves, care for elderly parents, limit job searches geographically, and enhance work-home balance.
Family-friendly policies, such as the option to work part-time and delay the tenure clock, could help women advance in science careers, they write.
Ceci and Williams are married to each other and have three daughters, notes Lisa Belkin in the New York Times.
She links to an interview with Dr. Janet Davison Rowley, now 85, “the matriarch of modern cancer genetics.” The mother of four, Dr. Rowley worked part-time until her youngest child was 12.