Gender Gap in the Sciences
gains have stalled and in some cases eroded in engineering and
computer science, despite effective new programs to increase women’s
participation in these fields, according to a major new report
released recently by the National Council for Research on Women
The report, entitled Balancing the Equation: Where are Women and
Girls in Science, Engineering and Technology? notes myriad reasons
to advance women in the sciences, including the economic imperative
to increase the technological and scientific literacy of America’s
workforce. The report also finds important the perspective women
bring to the sciences, often leading them to different decisions
on allocating research dollars, targeting drug testing protocols,
and developing technology to benefit communities.
is a critical moment for the nation,” said NCRW Executive Director
Linda Basch. “In the last few decades, we have learned how to
increase women’s and girls’ participation in science and technology.
Now we need to use that knowledge. This report offers cause for
cautious optimism. We simply cannot continue to overlook the contributions
of half our population. If we do, our society, our nation and
our world will suffer.”
The report analyzes strategies to attract women and girls to science
and retain them in technological fields. It finds that efforts
to open up scientific study and work have created new opportunities
for women and minorities, but these efforts have been sporadic
and disjointed. The report calls for a national commitment to
remove the persistent barriers and glass ceiling facing women
and girls in the sciences.
The report reviews hundreds of programs that successfully increase
the classroom, laboratory and workplace participation of girls,
women and minorities in the sciences. It finds that women and
girls excel in environments that encourage hands-on research,
including mentoring and role models, and link science, technology
and engineering to other disciplines.
The report found that:
1996 women constituted 45 percent of the workforce in the US,
but just 12 percent of science and engineering jobs in business
1999, 56 percent of Advanced Placement takers were female, but
90 percent of computer science test takers and 78 percent of physics
test takers were male.
than 10 percent of full professors in the sciences today are women,
despite the fact that women have been earning more than one-quarter
of the Ph.Ds in science for 30 years.
Balancing the Equation calls for systematic change and a long-term
commitment by top leaders at all levels to advancing women in
the sciences, beginning in kindergarten and continuing through
women’s careers. Each chapter concludes with recommendations for
specific action steps to advance women and girls in science and
The National Council for Research on Women is a working alliance
of 95 university-based research centers, national policy organizations,
and education coalitions.
of Balancing the Equation are available for $22.00 plus $4.50
postage and handling from NCRW, 11 Hanover Square, 20th
floor, New York, NY 10005. Call NCRW at 212-785-7335.
Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel:
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All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of
the publisher. © 2001.