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Gender Differences at Critical Transitions in the Careers of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Faculty
engineering, or mechanical engineering. In electrical engineering, 77 departments were identified. Electrical engineering departments often included computer engineering. In mathematics, 86 departments were identified. One of the remaining three institutions only offered mathematics as part of an undergraduate college, and so it was excluded. In a few instances, mathematics departments also included statistics. In one case, a joint mathematics and computer science department was included. Finally, in physics, 86 departments were identified. One of the remaining three institutions only offered physics as part of an undergraduate college, and so it was excluded. About half of the departments included astronomy in the department.
The result of this was 492 departments. Initially, the committee’s goal was to examine a sample of departments. After further reflection, however, the committee decided a census would be more fruitful. Partly, this reflected a concern that there would be very few responses for women. For example, the questionnaire asked how many faculty were hired in the past 2 years. While many departments were hiring, few hires were women. To increase this latter number, all departments received the sample. Second, the advantage of the census lies in being able to make comparisons between disciplines, e.g., chemistry versus biology, for all Research I institutions.
In all 417 departments responded to the questionnaire. This gives an overall response rate of 85 percent, which is a respectable response. By discipline, electrical engineering had the lowest response rate, while physics had the highest. One might speculate that the fact that AIP sent the survey, and was familiar with physics departments from other survey projects, might have contributed to the higher return for physics departments.
To generate the faculty sample, the committee collected faculty rosters, for assistant, associate, and full professors, at each of the 492 departments. This was done by consulting each department’s Web site for a faculty list. Second, the committee identified the assistant, associate, and full professors in the department. This step was more complex. The committee started with the faculty roster on the individual institution’s departmental Web sites. If it identified these three types of faculty, then those faculty members’ names were entered into a spreadsheet. If the Web site did not identify faculty members’ ranks, then the committee turned to university catalogues. In the event that this failed (because catalogues were not available on line), the committee examined individual faculty members’ Web sites.