In a sobering recount of a study about women's retention in a chemistry Ph.D. program, Curt Rice describes the many unappealing aspects of pursuing a position in academia after graduating (i.e., moving for multiple postdocs, lack of support, ongoing process of finding funding, lack of security in employment, sacrificing time spent with family) (See Why Women Leave Academia and Why Universities Should Be Worried). While both men and women face many of these challenges, women face the additional obstacle of not being competitive enough because of their gender.
In the study, The chemistry PhD: the impact on women's retention, the researchers found that 72 percent of first year female students in the Ph.D. program reported an interest in pursuing a career as a researcher (industry or academia). However, by the third year of the program, only 12 percent of the women were still interested in pursuing a career in academia. Looking at the statistic in another way, 88 percent of the female students in the Ph.D. program did not want to pursue a faculty position.
What are your thoughts about this study? Are you still interested in pursuing a career in academia? What obstacles have influenced your decision about your career path? Share your thoughts in the comments section.