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Science Careers Blog

June 11, 2008

Gender Inequality in the Scientific Workplace

Both male and female European researchers see combining research with children as very difficult. But, according to a recent study, men and women perceive workplace obstacles differently.

Just like many previous studies, a new survey funded by the European Commission and published this month in EMBO Reports concludes that women remain largely absent in many fields of science, get lower wages, and have fewer opportunities than men to climb the career ladder.

But the EMBO survey, which collected the views of 143 scientists, 53.1% men and 46.9% women, also compared the barriers they perceived to gender equality. Seven out of ten female researchers, and six out of ten men, perceived as very difficult to both keep a career in science going and look after children. But while more than 75% of the female scientists saw the frequent participation of women in administrative duties as a barrier in the workplace, it was seen as such by only 33% of the men. Almost half of the female scientists complained about men getting the most interesting jobs. Interestingly, 57.4% of the female participants -- versus 27.3% of men -- believed this is due to women's lack of competitive attitude in the context of their careers. 

In addition, "the results confirm that many women participate more actively at the beginning of their scientific career, with their work ambitions reduced after having children," says lead author Simona Palermo in a press release. 

Full publication in EMBO reports here (Subcription required). A press release may be found here.

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