Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


WIST — Result In Brief

Project ID: 36701
Funded under: FP6-SOCIETY

Why do women leave science?

A team of researchers generated new information on the 'loss' of women from academic science and their presence in related, non-traditional emerging careers.
Why do women leave science?
The term 'push-outs' is sometimes used to describe the high number of qualified women in science who disappear from the career pipeline for various reasons. Some pursue alternative career paths, others opt to work in a field unrelated to science and still others reappear in technology transfer or science-related interface professions.

It is important to understand the forces at play driving women in science to halt their initial chosen career path. This decision on their part has many implications and raises a complex set of issues.

The 'Women in innovation, science and technology' (WIST) project focused on the failure to fully exploit society's investment in highly trained human resources, as viewed by the European Union. Project partners studied women's participation and advancement in the technology transfer, incubation and entrepreneurship (TIE) professions to better understand the changing relationships that connect gender, science and the economy.

The four-country project conducted comparative qualitative research on entry into the field, access to professional networks and work-life balance. Based on the results, a vanish box model was proposed to better understand why women, for the most part, do not reach the upper levels of academic science. Their reappearance in TIE at the intersection of science and the economy was also a major point of interest for the researchers.

The case studies highlighted different conditions across the participant countries, honing in on particular 'trends' characterising female participation in the TIE field and emerging careers. WIST study results showed a general trend of individuals having to (re-)invent their own careers, as TIE professions are still in a state of transition. However, women in TIE still reported concerns regarding lack of career opportunities and low salaries due to the publicly funded character of most TIE organisations.

The WIST project approach and outcomes offered novel insight that can be developed for a better understanding and broader application in studies of women's participation in the science, engineering and technology professions.

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