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important task, was considered to be beyond the scope of the charge. For purposes of this report, science and engineering are defined as the physical sciences (including astronomy, chemistry, and physics); earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences; mathematics and computer science; biological and agricultural sciences; and engineering (in all its forms).11

The committee understood the charge as focusing primarily on major research universities—known as the Research I (RI) or research-intensive institutions—for several reasons.12 First, the committee believed gender disparities, if present, are more likely to occur in these institutions. Second, findings for research universities are likely to serve as a good starting point for the consideration of gender disparities in other sectors of higher education. Finally, and most important, as is discussed more fully below, research universities play especially important roles in training doctoral students and future scholars and faculty.

Recognizing at the outset the need for new data, the committee conducted two national surveys in 2004 and 2005 of faculty and academic departments in six science and engineering disciplines: biology, chemistry, civil engineering, electrical engineering, mathematics, and physics. The first survey of almost 500 departments focused on hiring, tenure, and promotion processes, while the second survey gathered career-related information from more than 1,800 faculty. Together the surveys addressed departmental characteristics, hiring, tenure, promotion, faculty demographics, employment experiences, and types of institutional support received. In addition to results from the surveys, the committee heard expert testimony and examined data from federal agencies and professional societies, individual university studies (e.g., gender equity, salary, or “climate” studies), and academic articles. The survey is discussed in greater detail later in this chapter and in Appendix 1-4.


The term “sciences and engineering” is often defined as the academic disciplines of physical sciences (including astronomy, chemistry, and physics); earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences; mathematical and computer sciences; biological and agricultural sciences; and engineering (in all its forms). Additionally, psychology and the social sciences (including economics, political science, and sociology) may also be treated as science fields. Non-S&E fields are defined to include the various arts and humanities. The natural sciences and engineering are defined in this study as agricultural sciences, biological sciences, health sciences, engineering, computer and information sciences, mathematics, and physical sciences. Further gradations can be seen in the Survey of Earned Doctorates list of fields of study. Our definition includes Ph.D. fields coded as between 005 and 599, inclusive. Refer to the questionnaire, an example of which is found at


Research I institutions are defined as institutions which offer, beyond baccalaureate programs, doctoral programs which award 50 or more doctoral degrees annually. In addition these institutions receive a substantial amount ($40 million or more) of federal support. Note that this definition is based on the 1994 classification devised by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The classification scheme was redone in 2000 and 2005. See “Carnegie Classifications” at for further details.

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