Tuesday, June 26, 2012

STEM and motherhood

It is the same as with the wage gap:

ScienceDaily (Feb. 14, 2012) — Women with advanced degrees in math-intensive academic fields drop out of fast-track research careers primarily because they want children – not because their performance is devalued or they are shortchanged during interviewing and hiring, according to a new study at Cornell University. [...]

For the study, Williams and Ceci analyzed data related to the academic careers of women and men with and without children in academic fields, including math-heavy ones. They found that before becoming mothers, women have careers equivalent to or better than men’s. “They are paid and promoted the same as men, and are more likely to be interviewed and hired in the first place,” Williams said.

The study builds on previous research by Williams and Ceci published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showing that women in math-intensive fields did not face discrimination in hiring, publishing or funding.

And while the following studies link is dead by now, there still is Glenn's blog post:
In this one, three researchers at Cornell University analyzed some 400 existing studies and concluded that, although women have closed the gender gap in math test scores, their representation in fields like engineering doesn’t reflect that achievement. Why not? Their conclusion is the same as in the other studies I’ve reported on – women drop out of the profession to have kids. And as in the other studies, women and men begin their careers on the same level, but women tend to opt out of the labor force (or limit their time in it)to devote time to family while men tend not to.

As the authors state, corroborating much pre-existing literature on the subject,

“The one research finding related to the underrepresentation of women in all academic careers, not just those that are math-intensive, that is robust, incontrovertible, and based on up-to-date information, is that women’s fertility choices, and the timing of when to have children, are powerful predictors of career success…”

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