NaturejobsPublished online: 4 July 2007; doi:10.1038/nj7149-098a
Beyond the glass ceiling
Women and under-represented minorities are earning historically high numbers of science doctorates in the United States. So why aren't they making it to the professorial ranks? Kendall Powell investigates.
If academia is to offer varied role models and perspectives for a diverse population of students, it must become more welcoming to women and ethnic minorities, leaders of diversity efforts say. Industry has already learned the value of diversity. In a 2003 amicus brief in support of the University of Michigan's affirmative-action admissions policies, 65 Fortune 500 firms argued that efforts to increase diversity improve innovation, productivity and global competition.Women and minorities suffer from the effects of isolation once they enter the upper ranks of academia. Both groups perceive academia as an unfriendly environment, and both suffer from an implicit bias against them in the hiring process.For women, the clash of their biological clock with the tenure clock, along with the effort of balancing work and family duties, is a huge barrier to advancing up the academic ladder. For minorities, financial and geographical constraints make academia a less attractive choice than industry. Attempts to remove barriers and to mend holes in the pipeline have met with mixed success.