Even Women Scientists Don't Get Equal Opportunities

Last Updated Sep 20, 2010 3:26 PM EDT

More evidence, in case you needed any, that women aren't treated equally in the workplace even in high level professions where you would think academic and practical smarts would trump gender factors.

Female science professors at universities receive fewer invitations to join scientific advisory boards than their male colleagues, according to a new research paper.

Researchers from Harvard Business School, MIT Sloan School and Berkeley's Haas School of Business evaluated career opportunities extended to some 6,000 long-serving life scientists. Bottom line: Men had twice as many opportunities to work on advisory boards. Invitations that do come to women are most often with start-ups or smaller firms.

As to why, the conjecture is that women haven't made the same number of high quality connections as men, and have more limited experience in the private sector.

The researchers note that women do better when they work for schools with formal technology transfer offices, "indicating that institutional support can help women overcome obstacles to entry into commercial science."

(Image courtesy Argonne National Laboratory)

  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.