disabilities. Our need to broaden participation and increase opportunity is critical, for both the science and education communities and the nation.8
“Having scientists and engineers with diverse backgrounds, interests, and cultures assures better scientific and technological results and the best use of those results.” (Lane, 1999). If, for example, women approach the process of S&E teaching or research differently or generate different, important outcomes (findings, publications, patents, etc.), then their relative exclusion somewhat diminishes the potential of academia (Xie and Shauman, 2003:footnote 2). A comparison of data from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and the Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE) indicates that when faculty emphasized effective educational practices, students tended to engage more in those practices. Interestingly, the FSSE found women were more likely than men to value and use effective educational practices (Kuh et al., 2004).
“Academic institutions play a pivotal role in preparing the science and engineering work force, and their faculty and leaders serve as intellectual, personal, and organizational role models that shape the expectations of future scientists and engineers,” said Alice Hogan, NSF’s former ADVANCE Program Manager. “Ensuring that the climate, the policies and the practices at these institutions encourage and support the full participation of women in all aspects of academic life, including leadership and governance, is critical to attracting students to science and engineering careers” (Harms, 2001).
Women are students before they enter the workforce. Female faculty, by acting as role models, produce the next generation of scholars and are associated with greater production of female S&E students. According to Trower and Chait (2002:34), the “most accurate predictor of subsequent success for female undergraduates is the percentage of women among faculty members at their college.”
Finally, there are legal prescriptions prohibiting discrimination and questioning the propriety of disparities (see NAS, NAE, and IOM, 2007 for a review of antidiscrimination laws). The Equal Pay Act of 1963, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 all focus on prohibiting sex discrimination. Title IX is a particularly relevant piece of legislation, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in federally assisted education programs or activities. Most frequently invoked to promote equal access to athletic programs, Title IX also covers employment, and a 2004 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report suggested efforts to enforce compliance with Title IX should be applied more broadly to educational institutions. The Science and Engineering Equal Opportunities Act of 1980 declares “it is the policy of the United States that men and women have equal opportunity in education, training and employment in scientific and technical fields.” As Lane (1999) noted, “Careers
Arden L. Bement, Jr., “Remarks, Setting the Agenda for 21st Century Science,” at the meeting of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents, December 5, 2005. Available at http://www.nsf.gov/news/speeches/bement/05/alb051205_societypres.jsp.