Science undeniably needs diversity, as every job industry does, to ensure healthy competition and promotion of a variety of talents and knowledge. Recently, The New York Times Magazine published a revealing article explaining the lack of women in Sciences. According to the Business Insider, there is one answer to this, and that is the lack of paid maternity leave.
The idea that helping women during parenthood could encourage women in the sciences is shared by several scientists.
As soon as women have children, financial circumstances all too often force them out of the workplace – likewise men who take on the role of primary carer.
Give women incentives and flexibility
Sabine Hossenfelder, an assistant professor at the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics argued that: "If Americans would take the issue seriously they’d have paid maternity leave to assure employers don’t think twice hiring women in their fertile years who haven’t yet reproduced. If you want more women in science, that’s where you should start, not with complaints about dress code schizophrenia"
On the other hand, Peter Woit, a physicist/mathematician at Columbia, highlights that both men and women in the sciences aren’t sufficiently compensated, and that makes it unappealing to women who want to have families.
As a result, while men are deemed to more likely opt for their job at a cost to their family, women seem more likely to prioritize their family at the expense of their job.
Providing paid maternity leave to female scientists or academics will give them great flexibility through enabling them carry out their parental duties and afford childcare while considering their next career move.
Invest in Education
Moreover, the Times’ article points out that there are other factors that might prevent women from pursuing a career in science. The U.S. school system has a role to play in this, since findings suggest that girls from other countries do better in math than girls from the U.S. and also girls were reported to have low confidence in sciences and being reserved to ask for help.
Employers in the scientific field should consider these factors that discourage women from embarking on the scientific arena and improve the conditions for women to become equally valuable contributors to their society, as their male counterparts are.