Academy Member Sue Rosser Authors Book on Women and Science

The Provost and Professor at San Francisco State University explores the barriers women scientists and engineers face—and how to break them down.

Academy member Sue Rosser, provost and professor, San Francisco State University, has authored a book that takes a candid look at the barriers women scientists and engineers face throughout their careers. In Breaking into the Lab: Engineering Progress for Women in Science, Rosser uses examples from her own career as well as interviews with successful women scientists to explore the "micro-inequities"-from few provisions made for child care to subtle discouragement that keeps women researchers from publishing, pursuing tenure or rising to administrative positions-that continue to challenge young researchers. 

                Rosser feels that many of the same inequalities that existed when she was a young researcher still exist today, but to a lesser extent. "An issue that seemed to be raised very frequently was the importance of the mentor's willingness to permit flexibility in the research timetable and understand that sometimes allowing a bit more time to complete a degree or post-doc because of childbearing or other family issues might permit a woman scientist with great potential to stay in the field." Rosser's own experience included mentors who encouraged and pushed her greatly, as well as those who assumed she would not be interested in certain assignments because of potential family obligations.

                Asked why she wrote the book, Rosser answers, "I hope that the insights from so many successful women scientists will help to guide mentors and women scientists, mathematicians, and engineers along paths to help them remain in science and experience happy productive careers in areas so critical for society."