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Academic Careers

Toward Gender Equality in Science

Nathalie Pettorelli and Seirian Sumner — two behavioral and population ecologists, both research fellows at the Institute of Zoology in London — argue in the Guardian Higher Education Network that what is needed for greater gender equality in science is not to attract more girls to science, but rather to help more women scientists stay. 

“When you’re young, with few personal ties and responsibilities, you can wholeheartedly embrace your thirst for knowledge and your eagerness to advance that knowledge, and let it take you as and when it demands,” the two authors say. Problems start for women when they reach the peak of their child-bearing years. “In a society where parental care falls mostly to women, where salaries still favour men, where compromises in domestic life are more readily expected from women, and where childcare is costly and rarely easily accessible at the work place, maximizing your chances of academic success while aspiring to build a family can look quite incompatible for most women.”
The two authors suggest giving more space in grant applications for documenting career breaks, greater opportunities for relocating partners and families, and targeted support for women who have missed the boat for junior fellowships.
Read the full column at the Guardian Higher Education Network.