Women in STEM Leadership

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Women’s Leadership in Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics: Barriers to Participation

Despite gains overall, women are still under-represented in leadership positions in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Data in the US suggest around one quarter of deans and department heads are women; in science this drops to nearly 1 in 20. Part of this problem of under-representation stems from the population pool: only 33% of science and engineering doctorate holders employed in academia are women. Other issues include well known problems of women’s participation in STEM fields: lack of role models, unconscious biases, discrimination, and unwelcoming climates. Women’s Participation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Despite large gains made in several areas in science and technology, women still do not participate equally in all areas of STEM. According to the National Science Foundation (2011), women have achieved near-parity in several fields: mathematics, earth sciences and agricultural sciences. Women are over-represented in biology and the social/psychological sciences. Yet gaps persist in physics, engineering, and computer science. Laura McCullough, Department Chair, Physics Department, University of Wisconsin-Stout.