Christian Science Monitor

Professor Fouad, who spent three years surveying women with engineering degrees about their career choices, cites inflexible schedules, a lack of opportunities for advancement, and incivility toward women. “It’s not the women’s fault,” she says, noting that she found no difference in levels of confidence in those who stayed and those who left.

Other barriers women face are an absence of supportive social networks and implicit bias on the part of venture capitalists. “They tend to ask women more difficult questions to try and put them on the spot and figure out how they’re going to manage disaster,” says Jessica Milli, an economist with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, of venture capitalists. “Whereas men, they tend to ask questions about their growth aspirations.”

The gender gap illustrates not just a waste of resources spent on training women in an industry they don’t end up working in, but also of human potential. “Many women are not able to achieve their full professional potential as innovators,” says Professor Hunt. “Another consideration is that female innovators would be more likely to make advances that would improve the lives of women.”

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