Check out this really interesting article summarizing recent research at Ohio State on why women stay or leave graduate school. One of the largest factors is the number of other women in the program.
A new study found that the fewer females who enter a doctoral program at the same time, the less likely any one of them will graduate within six years.
In the worst-case scenario – where there’s just one woman in a new class – she is 12 percentage points less likely to graduate within six years than her male classmates, the study found.
Astronomy’s undergrad major is pretty skewed, with only about 20-25% of students who are women. And it’s even worse in Physics, where our majors take most of their classes. Statistics don’t indicate that women leave the Astronomy major more often than men do, but that does not mean that the climate itself is not a barrier to success.
I’d love to hear your comments on the article or on the way gender imbalance manifests itself in the program. If you prefer, you can write to me privately; any comments sent by email will remain confidential.