Why don’t more women become scientists? And why do those who do become scientists often face more difficulties than their male counterparts? Every year, about a quarter of a million young men and women in the United States receive their first academic degree in science, mathematics, or engineering. A small fraction will eventually become research scientists. But many who start out with that goal fail to reach it––for reasons that may have less to do with their scientific ability than with their gender.
Drawing on a wealth of information (699 questionnaires and 200 interviews) from men and women who gave every promise of scientific achievement, Gerhard Sonnert and Gerald Holton illuminate the partly gender-driven dynamics of “the leaky scientific pipeline.” At the heart of this book are gripping personal life stories of ten women and ten men: half became highly successful scientists, the rest left research science. In their own voices, they talk candidly about their career paths, the obstacles and assists they encountered, the difficulties and rewards of attempting to combine a family life with a science career.
This highly readable analysis of the gender dimension in scientific careers––and its clear-headed advice––will be of great interest to everyone considering a career in science as well as to teachers, parents, and active scientists. Academics in sociology of science and gender studies as well as decision-makers in the areas of human resources and science policy will also welcome its discussions of general issues and policy recommendations.