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Dramatic improvements and persistent challenges for women in science

Date:
February 11, 2012
Source:
Boston University College of Arts & Sciences
Summary:
The underrepresentation of women in science has received significant attention. However, there have been few studies in which longitudinal data were used to assess changes over time. Now researchers find that women in the field of ecological studies have experienced dramatic improvements, but persistent challenges remain.
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The underrepresentation of women in science has received significant attention. However, there have been few studies in which longitudinal data were used to assess changes over time. In a paper recently published in the journal BioScience, Richard B. Primack, professor of biology at Boston University; Krista L. McGuire, assistant professor of biological sciences at Barnard College, Columbia University; and Elizabeth C. Losos, adjunct professor at Duke University and president and CEO of the Organization for Tropical Studies, find that women in the field of ecological studies have experienced dramatic improvements, but persistent challenges remain.

In the present study, the authors surveyed the Organization for Tropical Studies graduate database, which also was surveyed in 1988, to determine the challenges still faced by women ecologists.

Certain aspects of women's situations have shown substantial improvement since 1988, such as an increased number of female colleagues, more equal sharing of childcare and household chores, and decreased perceptions of gender bias. However, women are still more likely to leave the field of science and have lower salaries, promotion rates, and productivity than do men. Women continue to have greater responsibility for childcare and housework and also experience challenges with childcare and safety while pursuing field-based research. These results indicate that although certain obstacles for women ecologists have substantially lessened, other issues of the family/work balance and of fieldwork still need to be addressed.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Boston University College of Arts & Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Richard B. Primack, Krista L. McGuire and Elizabeth C. Losos. Dramatic Improvements and Persistent Challenges for Women Ecologists. BioScience, February 2012 / Vol. 62 No. 2

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Boston University College of Arts & Sciences. "Dramatic improvements and persistent challenges for women in science." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120211095047.htm>.
Boston University College of Arts & Sciences. (2012, February 11). Dramatic improvements and persistent challenges for women in science. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 30, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120211095047.htm
Boston University College of Arts & Sciences. "Dramatic improvements and persistent challenges for women in science." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120211095047.htm (accessed May 30, 2015).

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