It's been more than 30 years since Eileen Pollack earned an undergraduate degree in physics from Yale University. A talented student, she considered pursuing graduate work in the field — only to opt out because of social pressures that dissuaded women from chasing science careers. Now, some three decades later, Pollack worries that qualified young women are still struggling with that same phenomenon.
In an insightful essay for The New York Times, Pollack examines the ongoing disparity between women and men where careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) are concerned. What she finds, largely through in-depth interviews with professors and students at her own alma mater, is discouraging: some students recall being teased by their science teachers, while others feel pressure to conceal their scientific interests in order to fit in with peers. And the situation often doesn't improve for women who do end up working in the sciences. Pollack notes that they're often paid less, allotted fewer resources, and bequeathed with fewer awards than their male peers.