Advertisement

Annals of Biomedical Engineering

, Volume 38, Issue 5, pp 1928–1935 | Cite as

The Pipeline Still Leaks and More Than You Think: A Status Report on Gender Diversity in Biomedical Engineering

  • Naomi C. CheslerEmail author
  • Gilda Barabino
  • Sangeeta N. Bhatia
  • Rebecca Richards-Kortum
Article

Abstract

While the percentage of women in biomedical engineering is higher than in many other technical fields, it is far from being in proportion to the US population. The decrease in the proportion of women and underrepresented minorities in biomedical engineering from the bachelors to the masters to the doctoral levels is evidence of a still leaky pipeline in our discipline. In addition, the percentage of women faculty members at the assistant, associate and full professor levels remain disappointingly low even after years of improved recruitment of women into biomedical engineering at the undergraduate level. Worse, the percentage of women graduating with undergraduate degrees in biomedical engineering has been decreasing nationwide for the most recent three year span for which national data are available. Increasing diversity in biomedical engineering is predicted to have significant research and educational benefits. The barriers to women’s success in biomedical engineering and strategies for overcoming these obstacles—and fixing the leaks in the pipeline—are reviewed.

Keywords

Women Engineering Barriers Bias 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to acknowledge the BMES leadership for their support of diversity and equity initiatives.

References

  1. 1.
    A National Analysis of Diversity in Science and Engineering Faculties at Research Universities. Dr. Donna J. Nelson, Norman, OK, January, 2005. Available at http://chem.ou.edu/~djn/diversity/briefings/Diversity%20Report%20Final.pdf.
  2. 2.
    American Society of Engineering Education. Profiles of Engineering and Engineering Technology Colleges, Washington, DC, 2008. Available at http://profiles.asee.org/.
  3. 3.
    Banaji, M., K. Lemm, and S. Carpenter. The social unconscious. In: Blackwell Handbook of Social Psychology: Intraindividual Processes, edited by N. Schwarz and A. Tesser. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 2001, pp. 134–158.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Bement, A. L., Jr. Remarks, Setting the Agenda for 21st Century Science. Presented at the Meeting of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents. December 5, 2005. Remarks available at http://www.nsf.gov/news/speeches/bement/05/alb051205_societypres.jsp.
  5. 5.
    Blair, I. The malleability of automatic sterotypes and prejudice. Pers. Soc. Psychol. Rev. 6(3):242–261, 2002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Budden, A. E., T. Tregenza, L. W. Aarssen, J. Koricheva, R. Leimu, and C. J. Lortie. Double-blind review favours increased representation of female authors. Trends Ecol. Evol. 23(1):4–6, 2008.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Busch-Vishniac, I. J., and J. P. Jarosz. Can diversity in the undergraduate engineering population be enhanced through curricular change? J. Women Minor. Sci. Eng. 10:255–282, 2004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Chesler, N. C., and M. A. Chesler. Mentoring undergraduate women in engineering: lessons learned from the sociology of gender. In: American Society of Engineering Education National Conference Proceedings, Albuquerque, NM, 2001.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Chesler, N. C., and M. A. Chesler. Gender-informed mentoring strategies for women in engineering: on establishing a caring community. J. Eng. Educ. 91(1):49–56, 2002.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Chesler, N. C., P. B. Single, and B. Mikic. On belay: peer-mentoring and adventure education for women faculty in engineering. J. Eng. Educ. 92(3):257–262, 2003.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Committee on Gender Differences in the Careers of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Faculty; Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine; National Research Council. Gender Differences at Critical Transitions in the Careers of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Faculty. The National Academies Press, 2009.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Committee on Maximizing the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering. The National Academies Press, 2007.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Dovidio, J. F., and S. L. Gaertner. Aversive racism and selection decisions: 1989 and 1999. Psychol. Sci. 11(4):315–319, 2000.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Duncan, G., J. Boisjoly, D. Levy, M. Kremer, and J. Eccles. Empathy or Antipathy? The Consequences of Racially and Socially Diverse Peers on Attitudes and Behaviors. Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University, 2003.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Gurin, P., E. Dey, S. Hurtado, and G. Gurin. Diversity in higher education: theory and impact on educational outcomes. Harv. Educ. Rev. 72(3):330–366, 2002.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Handelsman, J., N. Cantor, M. Carnes, D. Denton, E. Fine, B. Grosz, V. Hinshaw, C. Marrett, S. Rosser, D. Shalala, and J. Sheridan. Careers in science. More women in science. Science 309(5738):1190–1191, 2005.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Harding, S. Women, science and society. Science 281:1599–1600, 1998.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Hewlett, S., C. Luce, L. Servon, L. Sherbin, P. Shiller, E. Sosnovich, and K. Sumberg. The Athena Factor: Reversing the Brain Drain in Science, Engineering and Technology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Review, Center for Work-Life Policy, Harvard University, 2008.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Hong, L., and S. E. Page. Groups of diverse problem solvers can outperform groups of high-ability problem solvers. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. 101(46):16385–16389, 2004.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Kosaraju, D. Vice President of Programs. Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, Personal Communication, 2008.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Lane, N. Why are there so few women in science? Nat. Debates, 1999.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Malone, K. R., and G. A. Barabino. Narrations of race in stem research settings: identity formation and its discontents. Sci. Educ. 93:485–510, 2009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Mason, M., A. Stacy, M. Goulden, C. Hoffman, and K. Frasch. Faculty Family Friendly Edge: An Initative for Tenure Track Faculty at the University of California. University of California, 2005.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    McLeod, P., S. Lobel, and T. Cox, Jr. Ethnic diversity and creativity in small groups. Small Group Res. 27(2):248–264, 1996.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics. Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering: 2009, NSF 09-305, Arlington, VA, January 2009. Available at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/wmpd/.
  26. 26.
    Nemeth, C. Dissent, group process, and creativity. Adv. Group Process. 2:57–75, 1985.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Orfield, G., and D. Whitla. Diversity and legal education: student experiences in leading law schools. In: Diversity Challenged: Evidence on the Impact of Affirmative Action, edited by G. Orfield, and M. Kurlaender. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Publishing Group and The Civil Rights Project, Harvard University, 2001.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Paludi, M. A., and W. D. Bauer. Goldberg revisited: what’s in an author’s name. Sex Roles 9(1):387–390, 1983.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Pettigrew, T., and L. Tropp. Does intergroup contact reduce prejudice? Recent meta-analytic findings. In: Reducing Prejudice and Discrimination, edited by S. Oskamp. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000, pp. 93–114.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Related Resources. Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute (WISELI), University of Wisconsin. Available at http://wiseli.engr.wisc.edu/subject.php#balance and http://wiseli.engr.wisc.edu/subject.php#bias.
  31. 31.
  32. 32.
  33. 33.
  34. 34.
  35. 35.
    Seymour, N., and N. Hewitt. Talking About Leaving: Why Undergraduates Leave the Sciences. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Steinpreis, R., K. A. Anders, and D. Ritzke. The impact of gender on the review of the curricula vitae of job applicants and tenure candidates: a national empirical study. Sex Roles 41(7):509–528, 1999.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Tierney, J. A New Frontier for Title IX: Science Section, New York Times, New York, July 15, 2008. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/15/science/15tier.html.
  38. 38.
    Trower, C., and R. Chait. Faculty diversity. Harv. Mag. 33–37, 98, 2002.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    University of California. Creating a Family Friendly Department: Chairs and Deans Toolkit. Available at http://ucfamilyedge.berkeley.edu/toolkit.html.
  40. 40.
    Valian, V. Why So Slow? The Advancement of Women. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1998.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Wenneras, C., and A. Wold. Nepotism and sexism in peer-review. Nature 387(6631):341–343, 1997.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Wyden, R. Title ix and women in academics. Comput. Res. News 15(4):1–8, 2003.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Naomi C. Chesler
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gilda Barabino
    • 2
  • Sangeeta N. Bhatia
    • 3
    • 4
  • Rebecca Richards-Kortum
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Biomedical EngineeringUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical EngineeringGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Division of Health Sciences and Technology/Electrical Engineering and Computer ScienceMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  4. 4.Howard Hughes Medical InstituteAshburnUSA
  5. 5.Department of BioengineeringRice UniversityHoustonUSA

Personalised recommendations