As the United States competes with other countries for scientific expertise, many scholars have argued that gender diversity helps to increase the pool of prospective scientists and keeps them in the field once they have joined academia. While recent figures show women and men earn nearly equal proportions of bachelor's degrees in science, far fewer women than men continue in science past their bachelor's degrees. Universities and colleges look for ways to retain female science faculty members so they won't lose this talent.
Ecklund and Lincoln point to satisfaction with work, satisfaction with family and leisure, and the work-family nexus as crucial indicators of whether faculty members remain in academia. Applying the research to scientists, they surveyed men and women who are in different ranks and at different stages of their careers in the top 20 graduate programs in the fields of biology and physics.
Because they focused on these two fields, Ecklund and Lincoln were able to study whether "perceptions and experiences differ within the sexes between disciplines that have more women (like biology) when compared to disciplines where women are severely underrepresented (such as physics)."
They found that fewer male physicists than male biologists (79 percent vs. 87 percent) are married, are less likely to have children and have fewer children. "Male biologists, however, report working more hours per week than male physicists, are somewhat less happy with their jobs and are significantly more likely to report a lack of departmental and university support," Ecklund and Lincoln wrote. "Because there are proportionally more men in physics when compared to biology, this latter finding is consistent with the general organizational finding that individuals are happier when they work with those who are similar to them."
But the results differ for female physicists and biologists. "Women in bi
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