The leaking pipeline of women in STEM has been around throughout the history of women in higher education. Over the years, some very inspiring men and women have brought about some dramatic changes, and as a result conditions for women in academia have gotten progressively better. According to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology in February, the gap between the number of women entering PhD Programs may finally be coming to a close. Recent statistics show that throughout the 90’s, continuing to through to today, conversion rates from Bachelor’s to PhD for both men and women have finally come to a balance. While these statistics seem promising, digging deeper into the presented data, it is revealed that this is not a comprehensive representation of the current state of women pursuing graduate degrees in STEM fields.
When one looks more closely at the numbers, it becomes quite clear that although this gap is finally narrowing, it is unfortunately not because of an increase in the number of women pursuing PhD’s, but is actually a result of a decrease in the percentage of men continuing onto the PhD track. Additionally, while this gap may finally be reaching a closure, women are still not being represented equally in these fields. For those brave women that do go on to earn their advanced degree, there are still more hurdles that must be overcome. Women represent nearly half of the PhD holders in the US, however their representation in prestigious labs across the country does not nearly match this. Despite the highest qualifications, women are still offered lower salaries and less mentorship than their male counterparts, stifling their ability to succeed.
The most disturbing thing about this article however, is not in the skewed representation of information, but in the large number of people that will read it and think that the problem has been fixed, further perpetuating the challenges for women in STEM. Those that see sexism in academia is a thing of the past will find no need to work towards improving conditions for women in this industry, which might be the worst possible fate for the future of women in STEM.