Potential of women in science

Despite the fact that the percentage of female researchers at Polish universities is gradually growing at all levels of academic career, women constitute only 33% of all university staff in Poland and less than 10% of the members of the university executive boards.

The phenomenon of the leaky pipeline is present also at universities. It means that as prestige, salary and the level of power connected to a particular position increases, the number of women decreases.

The number of women at higher levels of professional advancement, in executive boards and among university officials is disproportionate to their total number as well as to their qualifications.

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The reasons for hampering women’s academic careers vary but they are quite well-known. Many of them are similar to the problems faced by our predecessors one hundred years ago:

  • Stereotypes and prejudice pertaining to gender – concerning girls’ and women’ natural talents and limits relating to their intellectual, professional and public activity.
  • Traditional definition of the role of a wife and mother which leads to the work-home/family conflict. It contributes to an unequal distribution of home duties and to the feeling of being overburdened with the double role.
  • Discriminatory internal procedures at institutions as well as the attitude and behaviour of people in the workplace.
  • Lack of support and hindering academic activity of women by relatives and people from their inner circle.
  • Increased ‘costs’ of potential success (animosity, hostility, patronisation on the part of men and women).
  • Animosity towards women in power in the public sphere and women supervising the work of other people.
  • Too few positive examples of successful female careers. Marginalisation and/or trivialisation of women active in the public sphere by the authors of educational content and the mass media.
  • Lack of female mentors and reluctance to include them in the predominantly male network of informal contacts.