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Dec. 6, 2002
John Bluck
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Phone: 650/604-5026 or 650/604-9000
E-mail: jbluck@mail.arc.nasa.gov


RELEASE: 02-128AR

NASA SCIENTIST TO DISCUSS WHY SOME WOMEN QUIT SCIENCE CAREERS


Women scientists often feel intimidated when they begin their careers and have to balance work and family demands, according to a NASA scientist who will make a presentation Dec. 8 in San Francisco at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

NASA scientist Azadeh Tabazadeh will discuss “Reasons Why Some Women Quit Science” at a poster session from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. PST in Hall D of the Moscone Convention Center.

"I think young women should celebrate their accomplishments and learn from their mistakes," said Tabazadeh, a scientist at NASA Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. "If something disappointing happens, like rejection of a technical paper, or a woman doesn't get a job for which she applies, then she should not give up because there are high and low points in science," she added.

“Azadeh Tabazadeh is one of our young, top-notch atmospheric scientists at NASA Ames, and she is well received by her peers,” said Warren Gore, chief of the Atmospheric Physics Branch at NASA Ames.

"Women are under-represented in geophysics compared to other disciplines," Tabazadeh said. Nearly half of all graduate students majoring in various disciplines of science today are women, yet men still predominate the faculty makeup at most universities and research institutions.

“The question is: ‘why do so many women decide to major in science but not to pursue a career in science?’” she said. “Over the years I have seen highly capable women quit science for two main reasons. First, intimidation can be very difficult to deal with when someone is just starting a career in science.” To overcome intimidation, Tabazadeh recommends that young women make a sincere effort to surround themselves with colleagues who are both knowledgeable and considerate.

“Keep in my mind that women have a choice to choose their future collaborators, so they need to make some smart choices early on and throughout their careers,” she said.

“Second is the need to balance the demands of work with those of family life. Personally, I don't believe a tenure system is fair to young women who wish to have children,” Tabazadeh said.
The level of stress can be very high, which prevents women from applying for positions where they are given only a few short years to prove themselves, according to Tabazadeh.

“Women should try not to make radical decisions (i.e., quit science) if they are too stressed,” she advised. “They should talk to more senior women in the field to learn how to better deal with their stress. After all, a career in science has many ups and downs, and to survive, one needs to balance the good and bad days.”


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