New Report Highlights Gender Disparities in Participation in the Sciences
A recently released GAO report found that while participation in the sciences by women has increased in recent years, more needs to be done to gain full educational equality. The largest increase has been in the life sciences, with significant gains in women earning degrees and pursuing professional fields. The report shows that the field of engineering continues to have the lowest numbers of women: only 16 percent of students earning a PhD are women. The progress of women in scientific faculties follows the same trends; some progress has been made, but women still lag far behind men in numbers, salary, and tenure.
The report also found that science agencies are not doing enough to enforce compliance with Title IX, the landmark legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex that applies to all organizations receiving federal financial assistance for education, programs, or activities. According to this report, some grantee organizations of science agencies have failed to even adopt and publish complaint procedures. Additionally, science agencies have not had regular reviews to assess their compliance with Title IX. As a result of this lax compliance, many women and girls are uncomfortable reporting discrimination for fear of retribution. Speaking on the discrimination women face in the scientific fields, Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center, said, "Discouraging young women from entering these high-paying, high-tech fields not only robs female students and teachers the full range of employment opportunities, but robs the country of their talents."