The biggest challenge facing women who want top scientific spots at universities is childcare funding, Patricia Fara writes at NPR, noting that this contributes to the so-called 'leaky pipeline.' But she adds that a shift in the expectations of lab heads might also be needed.
Fara, a physicist who serves as president of the British Society for the History of Science, has been researching women in science for a new book, A Lab of One's Own: Science and Suffrage in the First World War. During her research, she found that many of the women she wrote about like Ray Strachey, a mathematician and suffragette, and Marie Curie were able to have both families and careers. However, Fara notes that Curie was able to enlist her father-in-law as help as well as hire nannies.
Today, Fara says that women face the same childcare challenges, but with the extra expectation that running a lab or a similar post is an all-encompassing endeavor. "Rather than being passed over for promotion or eased out of their responsibilities, some women are making positive choices for more varied lives with lower levels of pressure," she writes. "Perhaps in time, the really smart men will realize that's a better option than earning more money but having no time to spend it.