Persistent Problems and Modest Successes: First-ever Review of Gender Parity Within Psychological Science

Gender gaps for women in psychological science are closing, yet some remain, and more work is needed.

Despite years of discussion and research, gender gaps persist across many scientific fields. Though wide-ranging programs have helped to narrow these gaps, more work is needed, and comprehensive data are still lacking. To address this dearth of research in the field of psychological science, the first-ever systematic review of women’s career advances and persistent obstacles has been published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science. This report focuses on three gender-gap domains: career advancement, financial compensation, and service to an institution or university. It also identifies the mechanisms that allow gender gaps to remain. The report notes that women are well represented in early-career positions, have more visibility in leadership roles, and are mentoring the next generation of psychological scientists. However, women also hold fewer grants, publish fewer papers, and hold fewer senior faculty roles. The report makes a number of recommendations for reducing gender gaps, including the following:

  1. Documenting and raising awareness of gender disparities through further research.
  2. Providing transparency about compensation disparities, offering workshops and training in effective negotiation skills for women, and creating formal gender-based pay reviews.
  3. Developing resources and policies that address work-family conflict.
  4. Formalizing and documenting expectations for professional mentorship from and for both women and men.
  5. Teaching bystander-awareness interventions for sexual harassment. 

“Psychology is a field that studies gender bias, stereotypes, and mechanisms of behavior change,” said June Gruber, an associate professor at the University of Colorado and lead author of the paper. “Although we have made much progress over time, there remain significant and important issues to address to chart a path of equity for women looking ahead.”

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Reference: Gruber, J., et al. (2020). The future of women in psychological science. Perspectives on Psychological Science. Advance online publication.

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