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Bridging the Gender Gap: The demographics of scientists in the USDA Forest Service and academia



Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Northern Research Station


BioScience. 65: 1165-1172.


Past research has established that diverse scientific communities foster innovation and problem solving more effectively than communities with a narrow range of knowledge, skills, and experience. However, gender diversity among scientists is limited, particularly in natural-resource fields. We compared data on scientist gender and rank from the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service Research and Development (FSR&D, a hierarchical organization) with data on faculty gender and tenure status from universities (loosely coupled systems) with comparable areas of study. We found that the representation of women was greater among FSR&D scientists than among university faculty but declined with seniority in both institutions. Within FSR&D, data showed demographic inertia, suggesting that the representation of women in senior scientist positions will increase. Although many mechanisms affect gender representation, our findings suggest that organizational structure affects the diversity of the scientific workforce.


Kern, Christel C.; Kenefic, Laura S.; Stout, Susan L. 2015. Bridging the gender gap: demographics of scientists in the USDA Forest Service and academia. BioScience. 65: 1165-1172.


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