According to ABC, a new study reports that women tend to drop out of research between their postdoc positions and running their own labs. I can’t say I’m shocked. While personal anecdotes are not reliable evidence, by age 28 I’ve already seen this trend firsthand among my peers many, many times.
We ladies make up approximately 45% of postdocs, 29% of tenured faculty, and only 19% of those running independent labs. Yes I’ve written about this topic before, but what’s different here is that researchers found no evidence of gender bias, but rather ‘women’s desire to be with their children trumped that of men’s desire.’ And most interesting is the suggestion that ‘more women mentors could be a solution to the “dropout” problem‘. Ummm, yes please.
“I think there is a paucity of ‘role models for women’ of accomplished researchers who have kids that turn out to be normal, because women don’t go into the system, that just doesn’t trickle down.”
Right on! We need more visible women in science (and policy for that matter) blazing a trail by setting the example for the next generation that we can be independent and successful without sacrificing a desired lifestyle–whether as mothers, wives, or even fashionistas. Because the truth is, it’s up to us (and that includes the fellas) to establish our own identities, which yes, can include taking on leadership roles in research and innovation.
So while I don’t think a lack of role models accounts for the entire gender gap, perhaps it is, at least in part, the classic chicken and egg problem. We must place more bright and capable young ladies in the public eye who break the mold of what we’ve come to expect of a ‘female in science‘…
The question then to readers is, how do we get there?