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Efforts to Promote Women in Senior STEM Roles Lacking

Policies and efforts to push women to more senior scientific roles and support in science throughout their careers are lacking.

A new report compiled by researchers from the New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute (NYSCF) and the University of Michigan found gender imbalance when it comes to senior roles in the STEM field.

The researchers collected and analyzed over 1,200 NYSCF Institutional Report Card for Gender Equality from more than 500 institutions over the past four years.

Women hold 42 percent of assistant professors positions, 34 percent of associate professors, and 23 percent of full professor positions, despite the fact they make up more than half of the population among undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students.

“There are still many institutions that have few women in senior-most faculty positions. There also remains quite a bit of room for improvement in certain areas, including the representation of women in certain roles, such as speaking at scientific meetings,” said Reshma Jagsi, director of the Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine at the University of Michigan.

In some of the surveyed institutions, women constitute only 10 percent fo the tenured faculty.

Researchers attributed the gender imbalance in STEM fields to lower attention paid to promotion, recruitment, and retention of women to senior roles.

“When women are prevented from reaching their full potential, the entire field suffers,” said NYSCF CEO Susan L. Solomon, who co-led the study

Previous studies have shown that various factors are working as a deterrent to women taking up STEM fields. Class size is one among them. When the size exceeds 120 students, there are higher chances of it potentially affecting their academic success, such as critical thinking skills, increase anxiety and a lower sense of belonging in the classroom.

Another recent study conducted at Ohio State University found that females entering STEM-related doctoral programs are less likely to graduate within six years in comparison to their male counterparts. Researchers also found that for every additional 10 percent of women in a program, the gender gap in on-time graduation rates increases by two percent.

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