Summary: Sept. 19th, 2017 Discussion

Chelsea Rochman presented on “Women mentors and their contribution to gender composition in science”. Here is her summary:

We talked about the role of mentors in their contribution to gender equity. We specifically talked about the role of women mentors.

We began the discussion talking about these readings in the Atlantic about women mentors and bosses acting as “Queen Bees” (“Why do women bully each other at work?“, “Why women get criticized for being candid at work“, and “The Myth of the Queen Bee“).

We also read and dug into some work by Denon Start and Shannon McCauley about gender composition of academic research groups and a publication by Ellemers et al., 2004 called: Underrepresentation of women in science: differential commitment or the queen bee syndrome?

In short, the Atlantic articles discussed how women can sometimes act as Queen Bees:

This term was first defined by G.L. Staines, T.E. Jayaratne, and C. Tavris in 1973. It describes a woman in a position of authority who views or treats subordinates more critically if they are female. This phenomenon has been documented by several studies.

The question we wanted to ask is how this affects gender equity. Does this contribute to the underrepresentation of women in science?

Overall, we found that in the past women seemed to have a negative bias about women and their ability to succeed in academia. Over time, this seems to be disappearing as more women enter and succeed in academia. In addition, it seems that some gender bias in academia occurs at the applicant phase – suggesting that the more women apply, the more women will succeed. The good news – as more women enter academia and mentor women in academia, we get closer to achieving gender equity.