FIGURE 1-1 Percentage of science and engineering PhDs awarded to women, 1974-2004.

SOURCE: National Science Foundation (2006). Survey of Earned Doctorates, 1974-2004. Arlington, VA.

graduate and graduate programs.2 Women now earn one-third of the PhDs granted by the 50 leading departments in chemistry, 27% in mathematics and statistics, and one-fourth in physics and astronomy. Even in engineering, historically the field with the fewest female participants, women now constitute one-fifth of undergraduate and graduate students.3 In the top 50 engineering departments, women earn one-fourth of the PhDs granted in chemical engineering and 15% in engineering overall.4

In counterpoint to that dramatic educational progress, women, who constitute about half of the total workforce in the United States and half of the degree recipients in a number of scientific fields, still make up only one-fifth of the nation’s scientific and technical workers. As shown in Chapter 3, at every academic career milestone the proportion of women in science and engineering declines. These declines are evident even in 2003, the most recent year for which data are available. In examining the transition into academic positions (Figure 1-2), the declines are greatest in fields requiring


Government Accountability Office (2004). Gender Issues: Women’s Participation in the Sciences Has Increased, but Agencies Need to Do More to Ensure Compliance with Title IX (GAO-04-639). Washington, DC: US Government Accountability Office.


GAO (2004), ibid.


Handelsman J, N Cantor, M Carnes, D Denton, E Fine, B Grosz, V Hinshaw, C Marrett, S Rosser, D Shalala, and J Sheridan (2005). More women in science. Science 309:1190-1191

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