Mind the Gap: Women in STEM Career Breaks


  • Catherine Mavriplis University of Ottawa
  • Rachelle S. Heller George Washington University
  • Cheryl Beil George Washington University
  • Kim Dam George Washington University
  • Natalya Yassinskaya George Washington University
  • Megan Shaw George Washington University
  • Charlene Sorensen Gallaudet University




career breaks, STEM research and education, career pathways, career gender differences, work-life balance, careers in higher education


There are two issues related to women and pathways to STEM careers. Recruitment to the field is one aspect. The second issue is the retention of women in STEM fields. This paper reports on the structured interviews with 14 women who have taken career breaks sometime after receiving their PhD in order to understand the pressures in place to take such breaks, how women remain connected (or not) to their field during the break and issues related to re-entering the field after a career break. Suggestions based on the interviews include enhancements for women’s preparation for STEM fields and changes to the STEM culture itself. We suggest the inclusion workshops to detail what they might expect in their career and a provision for networking opportunities. We urge changes in the fee structure for society membership, differences in how resumes are reviewed as well as changes in maternity and child care leave.


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Author Biographies

Catherine Mavriplis, University of Ottawa

Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Ottawa

Rachelle S. Heller, George Washington University

Department of Computer Science, George Washington University

Cheryl Beil, George Washington University

Academic Planning, Institutional Research, and Assessment, George Washington University

Kim Dam, George Washington University

Academic Planning and Assessment, George Washington University

Natalya Yassinskaya, George Washington University

Human Resource Development Program, George Washington University

Megan Shaw, George Washington University

Department of Organizational Sciences and Communication, George Washington University

Charlene Sorensen, Gallaudet University

Department of Chemistry and Physics, Gallaudet University


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How to Cite

Mavriplis, C., Heller, R. S., Beil, C., Dam, K., Yassinskaya, N., Shaw, M., & Sorensen, C. (2010). Mind the Gap: Women in STEM Career Breaks. Journal of Technology Management & Innovation, 5(1), 140–151. https://doi.org/10.4067/S0718-27242010000100011



Research Articles