Falling off the academic bandwagon

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Women constitute approximately 45% of the postdoctoral fellows in the biomedical sciences at universities and research institutions in the u S a , but a much lower percent - age of women hold faculty positions. i n the u S n ational i nstitutes of Health ( ni H; Bethesda, MD) i ntramural r esearch p rogram, for example, women make up only 29% of the tenure-track investiga - tors and hold just 19% of the tenured sen - ior investigator appointments. a similar disparity between the ratio of men and women in independent faculty positions exists in most academic institutions across the u S a ( n elson, 2005; n SF, 2004, 2006), and statistics from Europe show a similar trend of women disappearing from the higher echelons of academia (E c , 2006). t he transition from postdoctoral fellow to faculty is a period during which a wor - rying number of women leave academic research. Several recent surveys have tried to identify factors that lead to the attrition of women from the life sciences and engi - neering ( u niversity of c alifornia, 2005; p rinceton u niversity, 2003; u niversity of Michigan, 2004; Baltimore et al , 2005), but these have not addressed the important question: why are female postdoctoral fel - lows falling off the academic bandwagon in greater numbers than male postdoctoral fellows?

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