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Addressing Gender Biases and Stereotypes in the STEM Careers

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  1. Addressing Gender Biases and Stereotypes in the STEM Careers Mona Bapat, Ph.D. Melissa Johnson, M.A. December 5, 2012

  2. Introduction • Quiz answers • Outline for today • Landscape of women in STEM • Group discussion • Solutions

  3. Where are the Women? • 2007 Bureau of Labor Statistics found that rates of women in the following fields are: • 27% of computer scientists • 12% of civil engineers • 7% of engineering managers • 51% of those earning research doctorates are now women. 25% or less of those women achieve full professorship in academic departments. • Biological sciences: 20.2% • Chemistry: 12.1% • Physics: 6.6%

  4. Challenge for Mothers 2002 US Census • Of the women with graduate degrees and who have children under the age of 1, • 46% of them work full-time, and • 17% of them work part-time. • Of educated women with children up to 18 years of age, • 59% are working full-time and • 18% are working part-time.

  5. The most cited explanations for women's lack of participation in STEM Lack of early preparation. Lack of parental encouragement. Concerns about balancing career with family. Negative perceptions about the life of a scientist. Limited access to role models and mentors.


  6. Why Does this Matter? • Opportunity cost of intellectual capital. • Loss of successful women who can serve as role models and mentors for future generations of women. • Lack of women’s own sense of accomplishment and autonomy with regard to professional identities. • Inequity in male versus female perspectives in shaping work and future directions.

  7. Quotes from Research “I have the symptoms of the insecure woman. A comment from a professor can cripple me. I would be self-deprecating. My science is different because of my socialization, not my gender.” –female graduate student “Their job aspirations are so low, their self-confidence is so low, they tend not to apply for what they see as a very touch place” –male faculty member “On my first day of walking into my department I had an engagement ring on my finger. (My adviser’s) attitude was “families and graduate programs don’t go together very well.” First he was worried I was going to blow my first year planning my wedding. I got a lot of flack about that and so did other women…teasing. “so and so’s not going to get much work done this semester because she’ll be planning her wedding.” (sarcastically) The guy’s don’t plan weddings.” – female graduate student “(In lab meetings) you feel very self conscious saying what you think and I think its because you are a woman. They would just as soon you would sit back and be quiet and when they ask you if it turned red or green, (you say) ‘it turned red’ rather than saying ‘it turned red and this is what we are going to do next.” – female graduate student “I had one student who was having her child in the middle of the semester and was to take and pass her qualifiers at the end of the semester. She wanted to do it. I said, ‘don’t do it’. . . Because of the emotional state you are in and the physical state after having a baby. We discussed this at length at one of our meetings . . . She ended up not doing it” – female faculty member “It’s always a thing where being invisible, you don’t exist, It was a sense, I didn’t exist” – female graduate student

  8. Psychological Factors • Overt Discrimination • Double-Bind • Micro-aggressions • Implicit Bias • Implicit Associations Tests • Stereotype Threat • Situational cues can trigger women’s concerns about being stereotyped leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  9. Small Group Discussion Let’s get back into our groups and discuss: What are your career goals as they stand today? What are barriers to achieving these goals? What can you do to stay on-track with those goals?

  10. Solutions for Graduate School • Case studies of physics programs: • Maintain relationship with department alumni. • Supportive department culture that focuses on strong community. • Mentoring programs were available. • Publication productivity partially accounts for decreased rank for women in STEM fields. • Focus on doing publishable research early on in training. • Specifically ask for mentoring in this area. • Utilize counseling services.

  11. Solutions Post-Graduate School • Give selves permission to focus on career goals. (e.g. tenure) • Growing evidence that majority of both men and women want balanced lives. • Linda Hirshman’s “Strategic Plan to Get to Work” • Never quit a job until you have another one. • Bargain for a just household. • Stop electing governments that punish women’s work.

  12. Work to Challenge Gender Stereotypes on a Daily Basis! • Language we use. • “woman” instead of “girl” • “parent” instead of “mother” • Giving ourselves permission to not take on all duties in the home that have traditionally been the ones to belong to women.

  13. Thank you! • Mona Bapat, Ph.D. , Staff Therapist mbapat@purdue.edu • Melissa Johnson, M.A., Pre-doctoral Psychology Intern john1195@purdue.edu Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) (765) 494-6995 www.purdue.edu/caps

  14. References Bernstein, B.L., & Russo, N.F. (2008). In Paludi. M. (Ed.). The psychology of women at work: Challenges and solutions for our female workforce. Volume II: Obstacles and the identity juggle. [pp. 1-33]. Princeton, NJ: Praeger Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology. Data derived from Cooperative Institutional Research Program, Higher Education Research Institute, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles, The American Freshman: National Norms for Fall 1990 through Fall 2006, www.gseis.ucla.edu/heri/heri.htm. Etzkowitz, H., Kemelgor, C., Neuschatz, M., Uzzi, B. (1994). In W. Person Jr. and I. Fechter (eds.) Barriers to women in academic science and engineering. Who Will do Science? Educating the Next Generation. (pp.43-67). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Fox, M.F. (2001). Women, science, and academia: Graduate education and careers. Gender and Society, 15, 654-666. Hill, C., Corbett, C., & St. Rose, A. (2010). Why so few. Retrieved from http://www.aauw.org/learn/research/whysofew.cfm. Hirshman, L.R. (2006). Get to work: A manifesto for women of the world. New York, NY: The Penguin Group.

  15. References Cont. Sax, L.J. (2001). Undergraduate science majors: Gender differences in who goes to graduate school. The Review of Higher Education, 24, 153-172. The National Academies. (2007). Beyond bias and barriers: Fulfilling the potential of women in academic science and engineering. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press. Whitten, Barbara et al. (2003). What works? Increasing the participation of women in undergraduate physics. Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, 9(3&4). Whitten, Barbara et al. (2004). Like a Family: What works to create friendly and respectful student-faculty interactions. Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, 10(3). Whitten, Barbara et al. (2007). What works for women in undergraduate physics and what we can learn from women's colleges. Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, 13(1).