Back in October, we had a meeting on the 11th to celebrate International Day of the Girl. While snacking on brie-stuffed strawberries and arancini, we conversed about our experiences of being women in science. We discussed statistics, sexism from peers and professors, the people that have helped us get so far, and the ones who still do. While our experiences were diverse, we were all in agreement on one thing – how beneficial it is to see other successful women in science. Whether it’s a family member, a teacher, or a celebrity, we could all think of a woman that inspired us. They are someone to point to when we are told that ‘girls aren’t good at science’ until we become that woman ourselves.
Not only does having female STEM role models help abolish stereotypes, they give us someone who can sympathize with our experiences as females in our given fields. This is critical at any stage, but particularly at higher levels of education where the number of women gets smaller and smaller. Having a female professor to look up to, commiserate with, and get advice from is one of the most beneficial things a young scientist can have. While the amount of women in science and engineering is growing, it will take time for those numbers to reach and saturate the workforce. With those thoughts in mind, we decided to take a look at Stony Brook University’s STEM -related programs and figure out how many core female professor’s we have teaching us, mentoring us, and serving as role models in our scientific community.
|Engineering & |
|Electrical & |
|Arts & Sciences||Women||Total||Percent|
|Ecology & |
|Neurobiology & Behavior||7||23||26%|
*Only the listed core faculty was considered
These numbers aren’t surprising considering that from 2014 to 2015, only 34.4% of PhD’s in all STEM fields were earned by women. (Source). We need these degrees to be eligible for visible leadership and administrative positions so we can stride forward to equality in the workplace instead of tiptoe. Keep in mind, all of these numbers represent women as a whole and do not reflect further discrimination seen by women of different races, orientations, and disabilities. So, where are the women? After looking at our professors, we decided to go a step farther and look the department chair and the program director positions, two essential leadership roles in our given fields.
Are women just not applying for leadership jobs? Do more women go into industry over academia? Let us know what you think in the comments below.