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Stereotyping prime obstacle to women in commercial science
Date:3/12/2013

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Female professors are almost 50 percent less likely than their male counterparts to be invited to join corporate scientific advisory boards (SABs) and start new companies mainly because of gender stereotyping, says University of Maryland researcher Waverly Ding, an assistant professor of management at the Robert H. Smith School of Business.

Beliefs that women lack leadership and business savvy, and are not capable of helping new ventures attract investment, block their advancement in these areas, she says.

Ding, with co-authors Fiona Murray of MIT and Toby E. Stuart of University of California Berkley, draw this conclusion from survey data and related statistics from the biotech industry and 6,000 U.S. scientists whose careers span 30-plus years. The study, "From Bench to Board: Gender Differences in University Scientists' Participation in Corporate Scientific Advisory Boards," appears in a recent issue of Academy of Management Journal.

The study controlled for the scientists' professional accomplishments, social networks, employer characteristics and proxies for subject interest in commercial science.

"Women are available," says UMD's Ding. "The numbers are there. They just are not being selected." In the data sample's final year (2002), women comprised about 30 percent of about 6,000 PhDs from U.S. universities or research institutions, but just 7 percent (49 of 720) of those scientists served on SABs of 511 U.S. biotech firms. She says this percentage never exceeded 10.2 during the study's 1972-2002 window.

Though her data appears to be the latest available that's specific to the SAB gender breakdown in the biotech industry, Ding says she suspects the percentage of female SAB members serving biotech firms falls below the overall, 12.6-percentage of women on U.S. corporate boards in 2012 (according to an independent study:

Contact: Greg Muraski
gmuraski@rhsmith.umd.edu
301-892-0973
University of Maryland
Source:Eurekalert

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