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segment of higher education, a specific population of faculty members, and factors affecting academic careers largely controlled by institutions. It does not cover all of higher education, all faculty members, or all factors affecting career tracks or decisions. Put succinctly, the report examines key institutional transitions and experiences of male and female, full-time, assistant, associate, and full professors in the natural sciences and engineering at Research I institutions.

What Career Factors Are Examined

As is readily apparent to anyone who has studied, considered, or experienced an academic career, many vital transition points and factors affect career choices and decisions. These encompass influences from as early as high school or middle school to decisions and opportunities until (and beyond) retirement. They include decisions or opportunities to pursue academic careers, work in industry or government, or take oneself out of the job market. They cover, of course, formal institutional actions, such as those described here, as well as unofficial and unstated actions difficult to measure. And they include a myriad of personal characteristics, family circumstances, social pressures, opportunities, and experiences of female faculty members and those who might have become faculty. Many of the “whys” of the findings included here are buried in factors that the committee was unable to explore.

We do not know, for example, what happens to the significant percentage of female Ph.D.s in science and engineering who do not apply for regular, faculty positions at Research I institutions. Do they pursue faculty jobs at other universities or colleges? Become clinical, adjunct, or research faculty members or other research personnel? Get postdocs? Take positions in industry or government? Opt out of the workforce altogether? Some factors to consider are:

Presence of role models and mentors


Parental influence

Family circumstances

Professional networks

Job market

Geographical restrictions

In the same vein, we do not know what happens to women faculty members who are hired and subsequently leave the university. The entire range of options available to new Ph.D.s is available to them, in addition to many institutional factors, such as:

Salary level

Likelihood of promotion

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