Breaking through the Reputational Ceiling: Professional Networks as a Determinant of Advancement, Mobility, and Career Outcomes for Women and Minorities in STEM
(NSF Grant # DRL-0910191)
- Julia Melkers, Associate Professor of Public Policy, Georgia Tech
- Eric Welch, Associate Professor of Public Administration, UIC
- Monica Gaughan, Assistant Professor of Public Health, UGA
This empirical research proposal addresses the characteristics and role of networks in career advancement, outcomes, and mentoring for women and underrepresented minority academic scientists in non–Research I institutions. The under-representation of women and the “invisibility” of minorities in academic science are recognized to be a significant national policy crisis and “waste” of human capital (NAS, 2007). A common thread in many of studies regarding the advancement of women and minorities in STEM fields is reference to the importance of professional networks. This observation has been underscored in the recently issued NAS report, Beyond Bias and Barriers, that repeatedly points to issues of lack of network access and participation for women in the sciences, noting “…differences in career trajectories for men and women are generated and reinforced by the social structures in which people are situated and by the networks of interactions in which they participate” (NAS, 2006; p. 174).
Studies on science focus considerable attention on the most competitive scientists – those employed in Research I institutions. Yet, women and under-represented minority PhDs are disproportionately employed in Research II and Comprehensive institutions. The purpose of this research is to address the structural and resource determinants of under-representation, career success, and satisfaction of women and underrepresented minorities PhDs who have faculty appointments in Research II and Comprehensive institutions. We give particular attention to the role of mentorship and aspects of specific mentor resource exchange in affecting network access and participation.