Our journal clubs aim to provide an environment for continued learning and critical discussion. Based on the discussion, we also brainstorm action items that individuals and labs can implement. Our discussions and proposed interventions reflect our opinions based on our identities and lived experiences. Consequently, they may differ from the discussions held by those with other identities and/or experiences. This journal club took place among the entire Fraser lab. Due to the size of the lab, we split into three groups. Each group had unique but overlapping conversations.
Summary and Key Points: In academia, there is a notable gender imbalance. Despite significant strides in acquiring doctoral degrees, women remain underrepresented in tenure-track faculty positions1,2. Further, and even more surprising, this gap tends to increase as the tenure-track stage increases (assistant professor to full professor)3. This issue is more acute in prestigious institutions. This paper presents data showing that the commonly held belief that this disparity stems mainly from work-life balance is a misconception. Rather, the paper reveals that workplace climate and culture are significant factors.
To identify the underlying contributions to why women tend to leave tenure-track positions, the authors split the reasons for leaving into ‘pushes’ or ‘pulls’. Pushes include workplace climate (including gendered harassment), work-life balance, or work-related reasons (funding issues). Pulls are recruitment for attractive external positions. While push reasons are more common overall, these are more common for women. However, the challenge in addressing these disparities lies in the subjective nature of what constitutes push and pull factors in an academic career. Personal life experiences heavily influence perceptions of these factors, making it challenging to devise universal solutions. For example, people have different expectations of work-life balance, and these expectations are likely to change over time. Second, there is an often subtle difference in how conversations, friendships, and collaborations exist between two parties of the same or different gender. How to mitigate these differences is difficult as the reasoning for them is multifaceted. A conscious effort is needed, particularly from men, to be mindful of these dynamics. Such awareness and a willingness to step back can contribute significantly to narrowing the gender gap and creating a more balanced and inclusive academic environment. Below are some open questions we have after reading this article.
Proposed Action Items: