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ematics had significantly higher proportions of female applicants than did all other disciplines across all types of institutions and positions. The proportion of female applicants in civil engineering, physics, and electrical engineering was significantly lower. The type of position was not substantially associated with the proportion of females in the applicant pool. The percentage of females among applicants to tenured positions was similar to the percentage of females among applicants to tenure-track positions.

It has been speculated that the appearance of a women-friendly environment attracts female applicants. Our results confirm this view. The percentage of women in the search committee and whether a woman chaired the committee were both significantly and positively associated with the percentage of women in the applicant pool (p = 0.01 and p = 0.02, respectively). For every 1 percent increase in the percentage of females in the search committee, we can anticipate an increase of about 0.7 percent in the percentage of women in the applicant pool. In contrast, the number of family-friendly policies advertised by the institution did not appear to be associated with the percentage of female applicants. Other factors including type of institution (public or private), prestige of the institution, and location of the institution had no association with the percentage of women in the applicant pool.

These results may thus support the argument that an individual applicant’s characteristics are relatively more important in determining application behavior. Institutions wishing to increase the number of applications from women may have to rethink current efforts or consider new strategies.


This section examines the representation of women among candidates whom departments choose to interview. Prior to this survey, few data were available about the probability that a female applicant for an academic position will be interviewed as compared with the probability that a male applicant will be interviewed. There is, however, substantial literature suggesting that reviewers tend to discount the credentials and qualifications of female job applicants. Insofar as this discounting occurs among academic searches such literature might be relevant.

The committee’s departmental survey allows an examination of the percentage of women being interviewed and offered positions. This section examines the interviewing behavior of departments.

Descriptive Data

Our survey data allowed us to examine the actual behavior of departments for the 545 tenure-track and 97 tenured openings for which we have gender data for applicants, interviewees, offers, and ultimate hires. Across all the positions—tenure-track or tenured—an average of four men and one woman were interviewed

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