Leaking pipes, was Re: old girls and hiring

Beth Shuster eoshuster at UCDAVIS.EDU
Wed Mar 29 13:53:07 EST 1995

On 3/29, Susan Forsburg <susan_forsburg at qm.salk.edu> wrote:
>Where are the women?
>Why arent they applying? 

Some anecdotal evidence of leaking pipes:

DISCLAIMER:  These are summaries of MY PERCEPTIONS.  Although I believe
them to be essentially correct, the individuals involved would likely tell
their stories slightly differently.  Also note that, for every case of a
woman leaking through the pipeline, I know of at least one other who

 1)  Of 15 students who entered the Microbiology Ph.D. program several
years ago, four have left.  One was a man having academic (and personal)
difficulties.  The remaining three were women at the top of their graduate
class (ranked 1, 2, 3 academically), one of whom had received an NSF
graduate fellowship, and all of whom had the potential to excel at
research.  All three had worked between college and Grad school, and had
returned to school with firm career goals in mind.
  One had been attending school on the West Coast while her spouse worked
on the East coast.  When she became pregnant, she took a leave of absence,
with the intention of later finishing her Ph.D. at an East Coast
institution.  A year later, she decided that the jobs available for Ph.D.'s
in Microbiology would not allow her the flexibility she wanted (for either
job location or hours), so she is training to become a physical therapist. 

  The other two became frustrated with various aspects of academic life -
in one case it was a serious disagreement with her major professor that
triggered the final decision to leave, while in the other it was a snafu on
the part of a campus committee.  However, in both cases, the discontent had
been mounting long before the final incident which triggered their decision
to take terminal Master's degrees.  They had each seen the effort required
to become a successful academic and decided they were not interested in
training for a degree which would only serve to qualify for jobs requiring
every spare moment of their time.  They are both currently working as
technicians in Biotech companies and appear happy with their decisions.  

2) A post-doctoral fellow (trained in premier labs) decided that she wanted
to start a family and that she did not want to juggle the demands of an
academic faculty position at the same time.  She has obtained a position as
a research associate (lab manager) in a university.

3) A graduate student decided that she would seek employment in industry,
because she perceived (correctly or incorrectly) that there would be
greater flexibility available when she wanted to start a family.

  Many of the individuals described above cited the tremendous pressure to
compete for an increasingly small share of research grant dollars as a
mojor factor in their decisions.  I know that it was a factor in mine.


Beth Shuster                        
Univ. of California, Davis
eoshuster at ucdavis.edu

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