Can Women Really Flourish in STEM?: It’s Not Rocket Science

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The Association for Women in Science's upcoming Inclusion & Innovation conference highlights gender equality and data from a UC Davis study which shows San Francisco Bay Area companies have more women directors but only marginal improvements overall.

“These data show promising improvements, but there are also great disparities which persist for women leaders working in the sciences and other disciplines," said Janet Bandows Koster

The Association for Women in Science (AWIS), the nation’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to achieving equity and full participation of women in all disciplines and across all employment sectors, announced today that much more work is required to improve gender equality in California for women working in STEM professions. An annual study http://gsm.ucdavis.edu/uc-davis-annual-study-california-women-business-leaders by the UC Davis Graduate School of Management regarding California women business leaders reinforces this position.

“These data show promising improvements, but there are also great disparities which persist for women leaders working in the sciences and other disciplines. Only through gradual public policy changes will real change and improvement begin to happen,” said Janet Bandows Koster, Executive Director and CEO of AWIS.

The study, authored by Amanda Kimball, Research Specialist at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, found some incremental improvement in the gender diversity of the upper echelons of decision makers at the largest public companies in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the percentage of women board directors increased from 11.2% to 13.1%. The study also highlights stark differences across the state by industry, size of company and location. For example, among California counties with at least 20 companies, San Francisco County has the most women board directors (17%) though this number dropped .3% from 2013.

Overall in California, women holding board seats and highest-paid executive positions in the 400 largest public companies increased 0.6% from the 2013, but represent little more than 11.5% of total boards seats and higher paying positions in the Golden State.

“We certainly see improvements, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area, but there is much more room for women scientists and other business leaders to grow in their professions,” said Kimball.

These issues will be explored as part of AWIS, in partnership with the University of California and the California Life Sciences Association’s 2015 National Summit on Innovation and Entrepreneurship: A Roadmap for Inclusion http://www.innovation-summit.org/ in Oakland on September 22. Speakers include Amanda Kimball of UC Davis and women scientists and leaders from Genentech, LinkedIn, Quid, Bayer, and other local leading companies. Janet Napolitano, President of the University of California System and former administrator for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, will be the keynote speaker.

“Next year, AWIS celebrates its 45th anniversary which is a long time to push for gender equality improvements,” added Koster. “If women cannot reach their potential in the fields of science, we will fall behind in innovation in the global economy.”

For more information on the UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders study please visit http://gsm.ucdavis.edu/uc-davis-annual-study-california-women-business-leaders

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