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Science Careers Blog

February 25, 2009

Encouraging Women to Return to the Lab

Going back to the workplace after being away for a number of years can be difficult for anyone, but especially for parents who choose being a full-time mom or dad. Today's Wall Street Journal reports that companies and institutions in science and engineering are setting up programs to help women (many more moms than dads leave the workplace for parenting) return to their former professions.

For employers, career re-entry, as this process is called, offers a source of experienced, skilled, and reliable talent. Even in tough economic times, their investment apparently pays off.

The Journal article by Sue Shellenbarger cites re-entry programs by companies such as Honeywell, IBM, General Electric, and BBN Technologies that provide training, mentoring, and referrals -- and sometimes even jobs -- to help women rejoin their working colleagues. The article also mentions programs by the British government and a General Electric initiative at its research center in Bangalore, India, as examples outside the U.S.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge offers a 10-month "Career Re-engineering" training course for engineers and scientists returning to work. MIT expects enrollment to grow from 10 to 24 by next fall.

Science Careers has covered career re-entry in some detail, particularly as it affects women outside the U.S. A story by Chelsea Wald in March 2008 detailed a number of career re-entry programs in Europe. And last month James Pauff and Misty Richards looked at this and related issues affecting women physician-scientists.

The Web site iRelaunch.com, described in the Journal article, has additional advice and resources.

Note: Paragraphs 3 and 4 corrected, 25 February 2009



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