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Balancing the Unbalanced

There is a gender imbalance between in the upper echelons of academia, and Bitesize Bio's Judith Brouwer says that it is not due to a lack of interest in science by women. "The number of men and women who start their studies is approximately equal … but the percentage of females declines rapidly as we move up the academic career ladder," she writes.

One reason for that, she adds, is that some women take time off or work part-time at the beginning of their careers — perhaps to accommodate maternity leave — and that is not taken into account when their academic records are reviewed. Additionally, she notes that a number of studies have found evidence of gender bias in hiring processes.

Brouwer presents, though, a number of steps to try to rectify such gender imbalance in academia. For example, she suggests that researchers careerd be judged according to the time they spent working rather than by the number of years that have passed and to develop target numbers for women in higher levels of academia.