In high school — when they are required to do so by their schools — young women take as many science classes as their male peers, and they perform just as well. So why is it that such an an alarmingly low number of these young women go on to become scientists?  

A new report released by the L’Oréal Foundation looked at data from 14 countries to try to determine when in their educational and career paths women veer away from science. According to the report, women start dropping out of the sciences as soon as they enter college. Only 32 percent of undergraduate degrees in science are earned by women. That number goes down to 30 percent for master’s degrees and 25 percent for doctorates. A mere one in 10 women (11 percent) holds the highest academic positions in scientific disciplines. And while other professions have shown dramatic improvements in gender equality, the number of female scientists has only increased by 12 percent in the last decade.

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Why are women so underrepresented in sciences? Many experts think it lends credence to the old "you can't be what you can't see," theory. In other words, young girls do not see women in sciences on TV, in the movies, in books, or in the reality of their own lives, therefore they don't aspire to be scientists.  

Progress may be slow; but it is also inevitable. The number of female scientists does increase every year, and that means more women who are making names for themselves in the scientific community and more women scientists who will serve as role models for the next generation.

What do you think it would take to inspire young women to choose scientific careers?

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