This week I met with seven incredibly talented female scholars in very diverse areas of science. We were brought together with support from a CIFAR Creativity Grant to discuss why women are still underrepresented at top levels in almost every academic domain. By the time women reach the hallowed rank of full professor, they represent only a third of the academic workforce. Why is this the case? At what point are women leaving academia?
We argue that the answer lies in the vulnerable early career stages in which women face some specific challenges that might put them at risk of missing out on—or dropping out of—an academic career. In particular, much of the attrition happens in the postdoctoral stage—the stage at which many of us on this team find ourselves. The postdoc years are the leakiest part of the academic faucet, the time at which women are most in danger of slipping through the cracks.
We’re currently working on an opinion piece that discusses these issues in relation to our personal experiences. There is a surprising amount of overlap in our experiences, especially considering that we come from such diverse fields! Here’s a taste of who is on the team:
Anne Broadbent – Quantum Computer Scientist
Maya Bhatia – Oceanographer
Margaret Frye – Sociologist and Demographer
Katie Greenaway – Social Psychologist
Elena Hassinger – Physicist in Quantum Materials
Else Stareknburg – Galactic Archaeologist
Vera Tai – Microbial Ecologist
Renate Ysseldyk – Social and Health Psychologist