In this blog for LSE Business Review Cayce Hughes, postdoctoral researcher in the department of sociology at Rice University, examines the results of research into why the gender gap persists in STEM. The research was based on interviews with 48 men and women doctoral students enrolled in various STEM fields at an elite university in the Southern US.
It found the majority of men and women students reported the gender gap will resolve itself over time without further intervention — that slow demographic turnover rather than lingering sexism or structural inequality explains why so few women make it into the professoriate in STEM. Yet men and women also offered insights that seem to contradict that overarching frame and instead reveal a culture in STEM that remains stubbornly hostile to women. These tensions suggest that cultural changes have lagged behind demographic shifts in STEM, making the gender gap slow to close.
The post was based on the authors’ paper Framing the Faculty Gender Gap: A View from STEM Doctoral Students, co-authored with Kristen Schilt, Bridget K. Gorman and Jenifer L. Bratter, in Gender, Work and Organization, Volume 24, Issue 4, July 2017.