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Gender Differences at Critical Transitions in the Careers of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Faculty
ment of women faculty, and advancement of women faculty into administrative positions.
A third report, Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women inAcademic Science and Engineering, was released in 2006.17 Appointed under the aegis of the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP), this study committee was charged to “review and assess the research on sex and gender issues in science and engineering, including innate differences in cognition, implicit bias, and faculty diversity” and to “provide recommendations to guide faculty, deans, department chairs, other university leaders, funding organizations, and government agencies in the best ways to maximize the potential of women science and engineering researchers.”
Beyond Bias and Barriers examines the results of recent research on gender differences in learning and performance—particularly cognitive, biological, and sociocultural differences that address the educational pathways to becoming faculty. It lists 11 common beliefs about women in science and engineering and presents evidence refuting them. Based primarily on existing data and the committee’s expertise, it identifies barriers that women face in academia and calls for action by university leaders, professional societies, federal agencies, and Congress to “transform institutional structures and procedures to eliminate gender bias.”
The COSEPUP report is significantly broader in scope than this report. It covers faculty from all fields of sciences and engineering (including the social sciences) and encompasses the full range of academic institutions. It addresses the overall mobility of women in academia, as well as the specific concerns of minority women. And based on an assessment of the underlying causes of gender discrepancies in academia, it provides broad policy recommendations for changes at higher education institutions.
In contrast, and following COSEPUP’s recommendation for new and accurate information, this report examines the experiences of a specific set of faculty and departments in six disciplines in a particular type of institution (Research I), based primarily on data collected in 2004 and 2005. Rather than an overview of career paths, our examination is limited to a snapshot of key transition points in academic careers that are under the control of the institutions (hiring, institutional climate and resources, tenure, and promotion). It highlights many striking differences among the disciplines that make generalizations across science and engineering difficult. The findings and recommendations here are a direct result of the data from our two surveys, which were not available to the COSEPUP committee.
Given the differences in scope and approach, it is not surprising that some of the findings of the two reports differ. While both committees found that women are underrepresented in academic science and engineering, the survey findings presented here indicate that at many critical transition points in their academic
National Academies, 2007, Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.