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time may have had critical consequences, as productivity is the most important component in deciding tenure and promotion cases21 and in determining salary.

A final area where disparities may have occurred between female and male faculty was in job satisfaction and retention. In general, women were less satisfied in the academic workplace than males (Trower and Chait, 2002), which may have led to unhappiness with one’s profession and consequently lower productivity and decreased retention rates. Lawler (1999) noted an additional concern: “unhappiness gets transmitted to younger women starting out and may help scare a new generation away from academia,” thus potentially reducing the pool of future academics.

Several studies found women had higher attrition rates than men both prior to and after tenure was granted (August, 2006; August and Waltman, 2004; Carter et al., 2003; Trower and Chait, 2002).22 Yamagata (2002), for example, found that the attrition rate for female faculty at medical schools was higher than the rate for male faculty from 1980 to 1999 (although the attrition rate for women was decreasing faster than the attrition rate for men and more women were becoming full-time faculty members, resulting in a shrinking gender gap). Johnsrud and Rosser (2002) catalogued a variety of reasons that may explain a faculty member’s decision to leave a particular position. These included a variety of individual characteristics, such as personal motivation and satisfaction, as well as institutional support.23

Against this backdrop of increasing women’s participation in science and engineering but persistent gender gaps, the committee fielded its surveys of faculty and academic departments in 2004 and 2005. Many of the issues and concerns raised by previous data collection and research formed the basis for the survey questions. Again, an analysis of historical trends from 1995 to 2003 and a more extensive review of the literature can be found in Appendix 2-2.


As Nettles et al. (2000:8) noted: “Some researchers have argued that most faculty reward systems are based on research performance” (Hansen 1988), and existing research supports this assertion (e.g., Fairweather 1995, 1996; Gomez-Mejia and Balkin 1992; Ferber and Green 1982; Lewis and Becker 1979; Tuckman and Hageman 1976). See also Fairweather (2002).


Although at least one study of 210 departments of computer science conducted in 2002 for the period 1995-2000 found that female faculty had lower turnover than men (Cohoon et al., 2003).


See also Amey (1996).

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