Report Finds Women Discriminated Against in Science and Technology Fields

Women face discrimination from academic institutions in science and technology fields, according to a new report released Monday from the National Academy of Sciences. The report, “Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering,” finds that women’s lack of participation within science and technology fields in academia can be attributed to gender bias and barriers within hiring and promotion practices in research institutions. Emphasized in the report is the important role that women scientists play in keeping the US competitive in science and engineering fields.

“Women are capable of contributing more to the nation’s science and engineering research enterprise, but bias and outmoded practices governing academic success impede their progress almost every step of the way,” said Donna Shalala, chair of the committee that wrote the report and current president of University of Miami, in a National Academies release accompanying the report. Four times more men serve as full-time faculty than women among those who hold Ph.D.s in science and engineering fields, according to the report.

To decrease gender bias, the report suggests that an inter-institutional organization be established, which could monitor academic institutions and set guidelines for hiring and promotion practices. It also suggests that individual institutions develop policies that allow faculty greater flexibility in research and tenure timetables, allowing more working mothers to meet these deadlines.

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New York Times 9/19/06; National Academy of Sciences press release 9/18/06; The Scientist 9/18/06; ScienceNOW Daily News 9/18/06; Associated Press 9/18/06; Reuters 9/18/06

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