Women in STEM

Over the last 30 years, the number of women earning bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in math and science has increased significantly. This success has been largely due to the work of educational institutions, foundations, professional networks and research and advocacy organizations. Yet despite these efforts, a huge gap still exists between the numbers of women and men pursuing advanced studies and careers in science – especially in physics, chemistry, engineering, computer science and technology. Schools, colleges, the technology sector and businesses, as well as other sectors, need to intensify efforts to recruit and retain talented women in STEM fields. Advancement for women not only diversifies the workforce, but also provides gender balance in setting research goals, developing new product lines and enhancing innovative and strategic decision-making.

How Academic Biologists and Physicists View Science Outreach

 Scholars and pundits alike argue that U.S. scientists could do more to reach out to the general public. Yet, to date, there have been few systematic studies that examine how scientists understand the barriers that impede such outreach. Through analysis of 97 semi-structured interviews with academic biologists and physicists at top research universities in the United States, we classify the type and target audiences of scientists’ outreach activities. Finally, we explore the narratives academic scientists have about outreach and its reception in the academy, in particular what they perceive as impediments to these activities. We find that scientists’ outreach activities are stratified by gender and that university and disciplinary rewards as well as scientists’ perceptions of their own skills have an impact on science outreach. Research contributions and recommendations for university policy follow.

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