Why Women Leave Academia
By Curt Rice
Young women scientists leave academia in far greater numbers than men for three reasons. During their time as Ph.D. candidates, large numbers of women conclude that (i) the characteristics of academic careers are unappealing, (ii) the impediments they will encounter are disproportionate, and (iii) the sacrifices they will have to make are great.
This is the conclusion of The chemistry Ph.D.: the impact on women’s retention, a report for the UK Resource Centre for Women in SET and the Royal Society of Chemistry. In this report, the results of a longitudinal study with Ph.D. students in chemistry in the UK are presented.
Men and women show radically different developments regarding their intended future careers. At the beginning of their Ph.D. studies, fully 72% of women express an intention to pursue careers as researchers, either in industry or academia. Among men, 61% express the same intention.
By the third year, the proportion of men planning careers in research had dropped from 61% to 59%. But for the women, the number had plummeted from 72% in the first year to 37% as they finish their studies.