With the recent nomination of Janet Yellen as chairman of the Federal Reserve, a variety of news coverage has focused on the lack of women at high levels in finance or even with the necessary credentials – a PhD in economics. Why aren’t there more women in such positions? Sociologists find evidence for several barriers women encounter along the way.
Fewer women tend to choose highly competitive, male-dominated professions such as economics, finance, or engineering
- Erin Cech, Brian Rubineau, Susan Silbey, and Caroll Seron. 2011. “Professional Role Confidence and Gendered Persistence in Engineering.” American Sociological Review 76(5):641–666.
When they do join these fields, women often encounter discrimination at all levels of career progression
- Emilio Castilla. 2008. “Gender, Race, and Meritocracy in Organizational Careers.” American Journal of Sociology 113(6):1479–1526.
- Erin Cech and Mary Blair-Loy. 2010. “Perceiving Glass Ceilings? Meritocratic versus Structural Explanations of Gender Inequality among Women in Science and Technology.” Social Problems 57(3):371–397.
Some women leave these professions after they have children because they lack the support to meet both work and family demands.
- Youngjoo Cha. 2013. “Overwork and the Persistence of Gender Segregation in Occupations.” Gender & Society.