Women Earn Less in Life Sciences

A survey, completed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, indicates that women working in the life sciences earn up to one-third less than men. The findings support earlier studies done by the National Science Foundation and the American Chemical Society. The survey shows that salary differences at lower-level jobs in the life sciences are small, but that discrepancies between male and female earnings increase as careers extend. Factors that reportedly have contributed to this salary gap include more males in the field of medicine, more females in lower-paying academia, and lengthier male careers.

Catherine Didion, Executive Director of the Association of Women in Science, called the explanation that men have been in senior positions longer than women, “a stale argument.” Instead, Didion attributes the discrepancies to different approaches to publication, unclear expectations from academic departments, and “captive spouse” syndrome, in which a woman retains a lower-paying position at an institution because her spouse has a higher-paying job there. Shirley Malcolm, Director of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, also pointed to “accumulated inequity” between women and men on the job as a possible explanation of the findings. According to Malcolm, small differences in treatment, often unintentional, can accumulate to cause a bigger divide later between male and female earning potential.


NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, WomenÕs Enews, 10/12/01

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