Preparing Industry Leaders: The Role of Doctoral Education and Early Career Management Training in the Leadership Trajectories of Women STEM PhDs

Event Date: August 21, 2021
Authors: Joyce B. Main, Yanbing Wang and Li Tan
Journal: Research in Higher Education
Categories: Gender, Leadership, Industry, Doctoral Education
While gender diversity in leadership has been shown to benefit organizations and promote innovations, women continue to be underrepresented in leadership positions in the industry sector. With increasing numbers of women pursuing PhDs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, it is critical to examine how PhD programs contribute to the career paths of PhDs. This study examines the role of doctoral education preparation in communication, management, and technical skills, as well as post-PhD early career management training (ECMT), on PhDs’ attainment of leadership positions in industry.

Data come from the National Science Foundation Survey of Doctorate Recipients, National Science Foundation Survey of Earned Doctorates, and National Research Council Rankings of PhD programs. Using regression analyses, results indicate that ECMT is associated with a higher likelihood of attainment of leadership positions. PhD preparation in management skills also contributes to the attainment of leadership positions. Previous literature has shown that structural inequities and workplace bias contribute to limiting women’s progress to leadership positions and that it is critical to address systemic and workplace biases. Research findings suggest that PhD program preparation and increased access to professional development opportunities can help contribute to the enhancement of women’s pathways to leadership roles. Structural changes in doctoral education preparation in management skills and increases in ECMT opportunities offered by employers also have the potential to increase the participation of STEM PhDs in leadership roles in industry.

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