More women are earning science degrees, but that's not a cause for celebration for Melanie Fine, a high school science teacher, as she writes at the Huffington Post.
That's because, she says, this closing of the gender gap seems to be due to the recession. She cites a study from a trio of researchers that found that for every 1 percent increase in the unemployment rate, there's a 2 percent increase in the number of women pursuing science-related degrees.
"[O]stensibly it's good that more women are entering a very male-dominated scientific world," she says. "My question is, though, what happens to these women when they finish their degrees and enter the workforce?"
Full-time faculty jobs, Fine says, are harder to come by. She adds that when women do get jobs in their scientific field of interest that they tend to be paid less than their male counterparts. Part of that difference is that fewer women study the more lucrative engineering-related fields, she says, and while that may be due in part to personal preferences, she notes that girls and women are also exposed to the implicit bias that "girls don't do engineering."
"All things being equal, as mentor to many promising young students at the beginning of their scientific career trajectory, I would much rather have women earning science degrees because that's where their passion and talent lie, rather than it being economically advantageous," Fine says. "Unfortunately, with the implicit bias coursing through our families, our televisions, and in the very words with which our earliest math teachers praise and guide us, far fewer women have the genuine opportunity to discover these passions, let alone pursue them."