Careers for Women in Science: No Change in the New Millennium
The world wide trend in Higher Education, including Australia, has been for women to take the majority of places in undergraduate programs. In the past ten years at least, more than 50% of the total places in science have been taken by women where they have reached critical mass in the biological and behavioural sciences but not the physical or mathematical. Even in the biological sciences, however, career prospects for women have not improved correspondingly. Women are lost from science at every level of seniority and that the proportion of women reaching professional or equivalent levels has remained at about 15% or less regardless of the proportion of graduates starting out. In Australia longer term consequences of failure to open up career opportunities for women in science may include a declining skills and knowledge base resulting in loss of national competitiveness in an increasingly technological world. In the 1990s we conducted a series of interviews with American female scientists in order to identify career barriers. In this paper the findings from that study will be compared with results from interviews conducted last year in North America which reveal that little has changed. These findings will then be placed within an Australian context in order to examine whether women are confronting the same or similar barriers which hinder career paths.
Keywords: Higher Education, Female Scientists, Barriers to Career Paths
Prof Lesley Warner
Professor of Biological and Environmental Science, Biological and Environmental Sciences, Central Queensland University
Coordinator of Women into Science and Technology program, Women into Science and Technology, Central Queensland University