Knowledge Center

Closing the Gap: Women's Advancement in Corporate and Professional Canada

This study identifies the factors in the corporate culture that contribute to or impede the retention, development, and advancement of women scientists in corporations. It also includes a monograph of the proceedings of the panel of women scientists at the 1997 conference of the New York Academy of Sciences and Corporate and Academic Partners.

Impetus: Women are under-represented at the higher ranks of the scientific and engineering labor force in industry, though there is a growing pipeline of women earning doctorates in science and engineering. The purpose of this study was to find out how businesses can recruit, retain, and advance talented women scientists.


  • In-depth interviews with 30 women scientists in corporations.

Findings: More than one-half of the respondents reported that they were given little or no information about the corporate job market for industrial science careers. Nearly one-third of the women scientists in the study chose the business sector not because they were recruited into it, but because they did not feel welcomed into academia. The organizational barriers to advancement women scientists’ face include: absence of female role models; absence of mentors; lack of line experience; isolation; exclusion from informal networks; stereotypes and preconceptions; style differences; risk-averse supervisors; and work/life balance. Most of the participants reported that they had to struggle against the perception that science was a male pursuit.

Sponsors: Tampax, Procter & Gamble