Gender bias in science holding back women

March 15, 2013 at 6:55 PM
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COLLEGE PARK, Md., March 15 (UPI) -- Gender bias in science means women are almost 50 percent less likely to be on corporate scientific advisory boards or start new companies, U.S. researchers say.

University of Maryland researcher Waverly Ding says advancement for women is being blocked out of beliefs women lack leadership and business savvy and are not capable of helping new ventures attract investment.

Ding and colleagues from other universities said that's the conclusion to be drawn from survey data and related statistics from the biotech industry and 6,000 U.S. scientists whose careers span 30 or more years.

"Women are available," Ding said in a UM release Friday. "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 doctorates from U.S. universities or research institutions, but just 7 percent served on corporate scientific advisory boards of 511 U.S. biotech firms.

The figure never exceeded 10.2 percent during the study's 1972-2002 survey period, Ding said.

Gender bias appears strongest in high-profile companies backed by high-status venture capitalists, she said.

"When female scientists do receive invitations to join boards, they generally come from small start-ups with limited financial backing."

Gender inequity should be addressed more strongly at the corporate leadership level, she said.

"Our nation's continued preeminence in science and technology will depend on engaging the best and the brightest, regardless of gender."

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