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Gender roles and not gender bias hold back women scientists
Date:11/19/2007

Traditional roles of women in the home and a negative bias in workplace support result in less career success for women versus men at the same stage of their research careers, determined researchers at the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) in a study appearing in the November 2007 issue of EMBO reports.

Despite the fact that more than half the European student population is female, women hold less then 15% of full professorships in Europe, according to the She Figures 2006 from the European Commission. While the percentage of female university graduates and PhD holders has increased, the gender gap is not closing at the same rate as careers advance.

The study authors, Ledin, Bornmann, Gannon and Wallon, were prompted to investigate whether gender bias was at the root of the lower success rate of female applicants to the EMBO Long-Term Fellowship and Young Investigator Programmes. Gender blinding of application reviewers found that gender bias was not the cause. A thorough investigation of the publication data of all applicants revealed that the performance gap widens even further between men and women researchers at later stages of their careers. This widening gap results in a 50% lower fraction of females applying as young group leaders to the EMBO Young Investigator Programme as compared to the number of female postdoctoral scientists who apply for the EMBO Long-Term Fellowships.

The EMBO Long-Term Fellowship Programme attracts scientists who completed their PhD training within the previous three years before application and are seeking financial support for post-doctoral research. Scientists at a later stage of their careers who are within four years of establishing their first independent laboratories can apply for support through the EMBO Young Investigator Programme.

Surveys of applicants found that traditional gender roles combined with a pervasive negative work culture appeared to be at the root of the lower succ
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Contact: Suzanne Beveridge
communications@embo.org
49-622-188-91108
European Molecular Biology Organization
Source:Eurekalert

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