Women’s Leadership in Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics: Barriers to Participation
What do barriers to leadership mean for those women in science and technical areas who aspire to leadership positions? They certainly face two sets of challenges, in different arenas. Two possibilities present themselves: (1) Women wishing to lead in STEM fields are faced with a double challenge, having to leap hurdles presented both from their chosen content area and their desired position; or (2) women who successfully navigate the barriers in their content area are better positioned to successfully navigate the barriers on the path to leadership. This paper examines the primary barriers to women’s participation in (1) STEM areas and (2) leadership arenas. Examination of the two suggests that women in STEM fields are particularly susceptible to the barriers and biases facing women who wish to move into leadership positions. The similarity in the barriers in these two areas could lead to an effective double jeopardy for women entering STEM leadership. A distinct lack of research in the area of women’s leadership in STEM fields suggests that this is a major problem that is not currently understood and not being addressed.