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Gender Differences at Critical Transitions in the Careers of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Faculty
about research universities will also likely serve as a useful starting point for the examination of other types of higher education institutions.
Third, this study will focus primarily on full-time, regularly appointed, professorial faculty. Due to the committee’s interest in what has traditionally been the typical academic career path within Research I institutions, the target population is limited to assistant, associate, and full professors. By and large, these are the faculty who are tenure eligible, who both teach and conduct research, who supervise most of the graduate students who will be the next generation of scholars, and who are most likely to receive the widest range of institutional support. Instructors, lecturers, postdocs, adjunct faculty, clinical faculty, and research faculty are not included. While these faculty are important, they have very different career paths and warrant separate study.
Fourth, although data are provided for many natural science and engineering disciplines in assessing historical gender differences in academia, the new data collected for this report by the two surveys of department chairs and faculty focus on six fields: the biological sciences, chemistry, civil engineering, electrical engineering, mathematics, and physics.14 The purpose of the primary data collection on a subset of fields was to allow for an examination of the career paths for men and women facing similar expectations and constraints. Although the findings may identify male/female differences prevalent throughout science and
at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. In 1998, the nation’s 127 research universities awarded more than 42 percent of all S&E bachelor’s degrees and 52 percent of all S&E master’s degrees.” For example, of the 8,350 Ph.D.s granted in the life sciences in 2002, 2,608 Ph.D.s (31 percent) were granted by just 20 Research I institutions (Hoffer et al., 2003). These institutions “are also the most conducive organizational contexts for a prestigious research career” (NRC, 2001a:124). On federal academic S&E support, see Richard J. Bennof, Federal Science and Engineering Obligations toAcademic and Nonprofit Institutions Reached Record Highs in FY 2002, NSF InfoBrief, June 2004, (NSF 04-324).
The four science fields were chosen, partly because they represent the “standard” or well-known science fields. In addition, professional associations in the areas of chemistry, mathematics, and physics collect data on their fields. Readers should note that “biological sciences” is a broad term, and may include agricultural or health sciences. Likewise, mathematics data sometimes include data for statistics or computer science. Finally, physics data may include astronomy.
Civil engineering was chosen as a middle ground among the various engineering fields. According to Gibbons (2004), during the 2002-2003 academic year, more than 8,000 students received civil engineering baccalaureate degrees—the fourth largest amount—and women received 23.4 percent of those degrees. This lies between a high for environmental engineering (42.1 percent of degrees went to women) and a low of 11.7 percent for engineering technology. About 3,600 students received master’s degrees—the fifth largest amount—and women received 25.2 percent of them, between 42.2 percent for environmental engineering and 9.0 percent for petroleum. The third largest amount—631 doctoral degrees were awarded and women received 18.4 percent of them, between 33.3 percent for engineering management and zero percent in mining and in architectural engineering. Finally, for faculty, civil engineering had the third highest number of faculty members: 3,320, and 10.9 percent of tenured/tenure-track teaching faculty were women. Fields with the lowest percentage of women were aerospace, petroleum, and mining (all at 5.0 percent); while the highest were biomedical (16.6 percent), industrial/manufacturing (15.4 percent), and environmental (14.7).