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Data for faculty at a wider range of institutions were consistent with Nelson’s findings (NAS, NAE, and IOM, 2007). For tenured or tenure-track engineering faculty in general in 2005, women comprised 6.3 percent of full professors, 13.2 percent of associate professors, and 19.5 percent of assistant professors (Gibbons, 2007).16 In physics, women comprised 6 percent of full professors, 14 percent of associate professors, and 17 percent of assistant professors (Dresselhaus, 2007).

The explanation that female faculty on average tended to be younger and so were more likely to be at lower ranks did not completely explain their lower ranks according to the National Research Council (2001a:172), which found “that at any given career age men are more likely to be in a higher rank [emphasis in original].” For example, in 1995, in the 10th year since receiving a Ph.D., 8 percent of women and 12 percent of men were full professors; in the 15th year, 33 percent of women and 45 percent of men were full professors; and in the 20th year, 64 percent of women and 73 percent of men were full professors (pp. 172-173). Something other than career age appeared to be causing part of the observed gender differences in rank attainment.


In addition to the underrepresentation of female faculty, concerns persisted regarding gender differences in the treatment of faculty. Several studies suggested women were evaluated more harshly and were less likely to be hired into academic positions (Lewin and Duchan, 1971; Steinpreis et al., 1999; Trix and Psenka, 2003; Wenneras and Wold, 1997). The literature also suggested that once hired, women were treated differently than men. Women were less likely to receive tenure or a promotion—the major career milestones for academics—or they spent more time in a lower rank before tenure or a promotion, with negative consequences for their salaries (Long et al., 1993; NRC, 2001; NSF, 2004a). Ginther (2001) found women scientists, in general, were 12 percent less likely than men to be promoted. Long et al. (1993) reached a similar conclusion for women in biochemistry.17

Some writers suggested that female faculty received fewer resources than male faculty, with academic salaries being an obvious, much studied, example. Data from the Department of Education revealed that during the 2003 to 2004 academic year, male “faculty with 9/10-month contracts earned an average salary

data are available in chemistry. See Marasco (2006) for percentage of female faculty at the nation’s top 50 chemistry departments from 2000 to 2006. See NAS, NAE, and IOM (2007) for numbers of male and female faculty in chemistry from 1966-1999.


This is a general trend. According to data collected by the AAUP, about 40 percent of men were full professors, compared to about 20 percent of women. In addition, a greater percentage of women were instructors, lecturers, or had no rank (Curtis, 2004).


Recent data have cast doubt on this position, suggesting significant differences might not occur (Ginther and Kahn, 2006).

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