Across most industries, women are paid on average significantly less than men, and science is no exception. In 2008, the median salary for women in science and engineering was $60,000, a full $24,000 less than the equivalent male salary.
And as much as it sucks that women make less than men, this is symptomatic of an even larger problem within the sciences: an institutionalized sexism that prevents women from achieving as much similarly qualified men.
As the introduction to Nature's awesome special issue this week on the topic puts it:
According to the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy, women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers experience a smaller wage gap in relation to their male colleagues than women in non-STEM fields. That's less reassuring after playing with Nature's fun-to-fiddle-with but depressing interactive graphic quantifying the scientific gender gap. (Augh, lady friends, careful -- numbers are scary!)
You can choose to narrow the data by various scientific fields, ages and types of degrees, but the gap persists. On the bright side, if you're a female computer and information scientist under 29, your median annual salary will only fall a $1,000 short of your male colleagues' -- unless you're comparing master's degrees holders, in which case the gap widens to $9,000 a year. For psychologists and biological life scientists under 29, women actually make a little more than men.
Of course, salary isn't the only marker of how science has remained a boys club, and differences in pay aren't necessarily the result of overt discrimination. Women disproportionately drop out of scientific careers early on, possibly because of the demands of raising a family, a lack of female role models and a perception that these careers are "not for them," as Hannah Valantine, dean of leadership and diversity at the Stanford School of Medicine, says.
Despite the fact that almost half the doctorates in science engineering the U.S. and Europe go to women, only about a fifth of full professors are female. There's also the lack of women invited to speak at conferences, the lack of women on high-level committees, and the lack of women serving on corporate scientific advisory boards.
So how do we fix it? Eight experts from around the world weighed in on the best ways to zip the gender gap shut in Nature's Comment section. From beyond the paywall, here are a few of the ones we can all take to heart:
Pay attention to what's not happening:
Liisa Husu, a gender studies professor at Örebro University in Sweden, brings up the point that outright discrimination and belittlement aren't the only reasons for a Petri-dish glass ceiling. It's also what we're not doing:
Invite women to speak at conferences and events:
As Virginia Valian, a psychologist at Hunter College and City University of New York, points out, it's rare to see women giving plenary or keynote speeches at scientific conferences. Some organizations strive to bring speakers from non English-speaking countries to diversify their lineup. The same should go for women:
Modify tenure timelines:
Child-rearing responsibilities still affect women more than men. Ben Barres, a neurobiologist at Stanford University, says we can encourage more women to choose tenure-track jobs by granting extensions to scientists who have babies, whether that's during their graduate or postdoc training or as an assistant professor:
Institute gender-bias training.
Jo Handelsman and Corinne Moss-Racusin of Yale University published a study in 2012 showing that scientists of all ranks and genders were complicit in gender discrimination. It found that a male candidate is more likely to be hired (and paid more) and mentored than a female. A little diversity training couldn't hurt, and, failing that, "we could paint murals of admired female scientists throughout the halls of universities," Handelsman and Moss-Racusin write. Yes.
"Across most industries, women are paid on average significantly less than men"
Oh blah blah blah and moan and weep. Yet more mush from the wimps of the world.
The 5th way is to get down to work and quit looking for some daddy to come along and make it all better for all the wittle gurls in science.
Clearly, this is because women simply aren't as good as men. They're just not smart enough to do the work so they don't get paid as much.
Most of the gender pay bias is legitimate. People get paid more by being aggressive about being paid more. Women get paid less because they are willing to accept less. I know what I'm worth and if I'm offered a job at a salary I find unacceptable, I decline the offer and move on.
They are also less valuable because they are legally allowed to say "I made a choice without consulting you that will legally require you to give me 3 months off this year. And there's a darn good chance I'm going to do this a couple more times while I'm working for you."
A male employee doing the same thing would be paid less, too.
And I think saying there is sexism in the science community is quite a stretch. Do you think there is someone handing out grants that says "Ah! Here's someone who has some promising cancer research. I'll give them money... Oh.. Wait. It's a girl. Nevermind, I'll see if I can find a guy with a similar proposal." That's just silly.
What the #$%@ is going on with pop-sci turning into a political rag? I've been reading this for years.
Is pop sci being taken over by 'political science' majors?
Big hug, - SQUISH! LOL
I have a problem with showing any group ANY type of special treatment, whether it's based on race, gender or age. Once a group starts to get some sort of special treatment, i.e. scholarships, admission to college, speaking tours or anything else, it starts to become the norm.
If people truely want to be treated equal then they have to act like it. There may be some smaller nuances, as suggested by the article, but that just means that women have to act like others before them, male or female, and speak up.
Popsci also recently did an article where scientists were given suprise grants based on the merrit of their work. If you look at the list of people named many of them were women!
This article seems a little biased.
Wouldn't granting extensions just for having children already send the message that women should be the ones taking care of the kids, not men? Think about it, if the woman gets extra time and the man doesn't, just which one in that couple is going to take on more responsibility at home?
That would be a self defeating solution, in that it would really be sending the message that children are the woman's responsibility.
When kids are born, of course in many cases women do more. First, they need time to recover physically from the childbirth. And second, they're the ones being given months off from work! DUH!
For non-infant children, it is bullshit to apply a blanket policy that women get more time than men.
Since anyone in the USA can get their own business license and be their own boss, I would think this problem via just good hard work and a capitalistic world of good products and services produced would overcome this problem.
"Across most industries, women are paid on average significantly less than men, and science is no exception."
This is a pretty blanket statement that is not true. Terms like "most industries" and "significantly less" are vague. If you're going to show that there is a wage gap, you also have to hold other variables constant (full-time, part time, educational degree, etc.). I'm unconvinced that women inmost industries face significantly different pay rates. In science, I'm not sure. There have been a couple different articles about women in science not being treated fairly, but I would want to see the regression output that proves this.
The authors own graph defeats her statements, in my opinion. did anyone else notice that the pay rate for women has increased, and continues to increase, exponentially in the last decades? Also, how is this at all about science? Popsci, please get rid of this garbage. I will not pay a cent for your magazine until I see more science and less political garbage, and many, many people agree with me.
Wow. I was going to weigh in on this but it looks like there is no need. Thank you fellow popsci readers.
Me and you: 0.3 zeom, Moon: 8.5 zeom, Sirius: 17 zeom, Vis. Universe: 26 zeom
As Paderee stated, its about accepting or not beeing payed less.
Men cannot accept beeing payed as low as wemen can. Simple.
Why is this difference?
Well our society is still based on the male as the one that brings the money home.
Man should own a house, man should have a nice car, man should pay the dinners, vacations etc.
So man simply cannot afford to work for less, while women, not having to bother about all this expenditure, can afford to work for less.
until I looked at the receipt for $7780, I didn't believe that...my... father in law was like truly making money parttime from there new laptop.. there dads buddy started doing this for less than nine months and resently repaid the morgage on their house and bourt a top of the range Mini Cooper. go to....... <strong>BIT40.ℂOM</strong>
What prevents a woman starting her own business, work hard, make great science with no limitations - (since then are the boss), make a great product or great science, earn big bucks and pay themselves well?
Oh, it does take way pointing fingers to their own limitations or failures though, lol.
Wa Wa, it is not my fault, the man held me down, wa wa wa.
Here is something that I noticed in the lab working with both male and female students. I have often seen male graduate students start tinkering around with lab equipment to try to get more performance out of it or take the initiative to build new extensions to the experiment. I can not recall one time seeing female graduate students doing that.
Females tend to complete the assignment but do not look to do extra. One may then ask…well what is the problem then? The assignment is completed. But in research and development work you want people that do not just stop when the goal is reached but continue to try to make it better.
This is a reflection of a male characteristic that women tend to complain about…why guys have to have the biggest, fastest, most powerful “Gismo” in that object class. That is exactly the characteristic you want from someone in research and development or management…to not be satisfied with the present state and to strive to be the biggest and the best in the field.
I feel this article is just wrong and the writer has personal issues!
Where is the science we love so much in POPSCI?
This is bunk, I work in a technology driven field and women don't get paid less. This has just become a wive's tale. The only possible scenario of a woman getting paid less is because of them being out of the work force for an extended amount of time. This is just a smoke screen used by politicians to get voters. The feminist movement is not even about equal treatment anymore, it is special treatment.
Little boys are being left behind in education because of all of the focus on women.
If they are going to post some BS article like this they should have supporting documentation with their research. Stop trying to post personal agendas.
@matsci1 - you make a solid point.
It would behoove us to remember that there are quantifiable differences between the sexes both physiologically and culturally, and in STEM fields, we're likely to see those difference play out with much more stratification.
It would also behoove us to remember that women in America are steadily closing that wage/salary gap across the board, and it would be silly to expect the gap to close completely over night.
This is simply not a field in which most women I know have any interest. I believe that if there were a similar passion for the subject matter among women, the numbers would look different.
I work in education, and my bosses have been women for as long as I can remember. They're doing all right in my vicinity, and more power to them.
It's got several points of interest.
I'm an engineer. I graduated with 2 female engineers. One just took the major because her father did it. The other seemed legitimately interested. In the work force I see zero female engineers. The handful I do know get Quality engineering jobs that are more paper pushing than technical thinking.
STEM jobs are also full of guys who should have retired, but haven't because the economy sucks. So where are all these new female greduates to go? They end up in other fields and then settle in and stay. Our Document control girl has a mirco biology degree, super smart but no jobs.
On a similar note, the pay gap is still an issue some places. Older men tend to be the worst about it. At a nearby company a man in his 60s has been hired into a management position and promoted a few women into his department at below average salary rates. They were all denied any raises or discussions about salary.
On top of all of this, there is something these studies don't mention. Time. How long does it take to see the effects of educational changes? Several year correct? Realistically, probably 12 years of school + 4 years college + some for program maturation. I'm willing to bet that gender roles compared to those 20 years ago are vastly different (as the graph above shows). In other words, this is like those studies on modern day slavery. It's going away, there is no magic button to press to fix it tomorrow. Social issues take a long time to change.
My experience at Texas Instruments and Boeing indicates that being female (or any other category of "victim") is no obstacle to advancement; quite the opposite.
I should have mentioned above, I work at a tech company. There are several female engineers, all of which are rapidly advancing through the ranks. And, the president of the company just happens to be a woman.
This article is pure propaganda. As a senior engineer (Ph.D) with a very large defense contractor, I can say that women are WILDLY overrepresented among managers in proportion to their numbers, and they are cut major slack when it comes to maternity leave. One young manager who is years younger than me and at a level ABOVE ME AND ALSO HER HUSBAND is on her THIRD maternity leave. She is getting an entire year off. Does that sound like discrimination to you?
Science is objective, thus it cannot be sexist. On the other hand, American society is not objective, and there is currently a significant public bias in education and employment that favors females when it comes to fields of science and engineering.
I understand that this is a touchy subject. And, having to turn the mirror on oneself being male is a difficult task, but should that preclude any of you from admitting the current status of gender discrimination in the "STEM" field? How are your perceptions of personal experiences and observances proof for or against sexism in the "STEM" field? And, where is the objectivity in your responses?
Read the book, "Half The Sky".
Oh, there is a website too. ;)
And apparently all males who read Popular Science and have commented on this article are as sexist as this article claims. It's not about the fact that women do not work hard enough, it is the fact that the whole STEM field, and all other fields that are "male dominated", are biased toward men and look at women and see little potential. This is because women have not been given ample opportunity. I'm not saying women need special accommodations, only equality.
From the logins above, how do you know who is male and who is female? I seriously like to know.
Have you read the book, "Half The Sky"?
I was specifically referring to those who are quite obviously male, the first comment present as an example. In general, most of the comments present are quite ignorant, and for being a "science"-oriented site, one would think that there might be some more enlightened individuals.
As for the book, no I have not. Though I have heard of it and followed the PBS Independent Lens series that is more or less supposedly based on the book.
I like it when even the un-enlightened individuals are allowed to comment on this sight, simply because people learn after the fact of their own comments and the responses of others given back to them.
People here get an anonymous chance to show their ignorance without consequences, and then see the results of what others think. In reality, it is a great learning opportunity and a real possibilty to make a possitive change to the world around us!!!
Well then, I do hope that they receive the feedback willingly to say the least, and take it to heart.