Staying Competitive: Patching America’s Leaky Pipeline in the Sciences

Premier science largely depends on the quality of the pool of future scientists. For this reason the United States has made a major effort over the past 30 years to attract more outstanding U.S. students, particularly women, into research science. Women have risen to the challenge with significant increases in all physical sciences and engineering, and they have made a huge advance in the life sciences, where they now receive more than 50 percent of all Ph.D.s.

Women represent a large part of the talent pool for research science, but many data sources indicate that they are more likely than men to “leak” out of the pipeline in the sciences before obtaining a tenured position at a college or university. The loss of these women, together with serious increases in European and Asian nations’ capacity for research, means the long-term dependability of a highly trained U.S. workforce and global preeminence in the sciences may be in question.

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