ACADEMIC EROSION: Although neither males nor females approach NSF's goals for attracting students to science and engineering careers (represented by dotted line), women tend to flee the sciences faster than men--particularly after high school.
First came the age of intrepid female pioneer researchers. Then came the epoch of "supermom" scientists. So where do women in science stand today? Many presenters at the Conference on Women, Science, and Engineering held last month at the New York Academy of Sciences uneasily describe the present as the "leaky pipe" era.

The metaphor was inspired by a trend: Women are leaving all levels of academic science at higher rates than men. The development of that trend troubles many participants of the conference, which was designed, in part, as a look at inroads women have made in science since the academy's first meeting on the topic in 1972. Those gains appear to be in jeopardy....

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