5
PROMOTING GRADUATE AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDIES IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING

Joan Sherry

Linda Skidmore Dix

Joan Sherry is a free-lance science writer and editor who works in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Linda Skidmore Dix is the study director for the National Research Council's Committee on Women in Science and Engineering (CWSE). They developed this chapter from the formal presentations and discussions at the conference, ''Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women?," held by CWSE at the Beckman Center, Irvine, CA, November 4–5, 1991.

Introduction

The graduate level is the bridge between interest and careers in science and engineering, but the percentage of U.S. students pursuing graduate degrees has begun to decline. Thus, interventions at this level are necessary not only to bring U.S. students into the field, but also to shape their view of themselves, their studies, and their professional colleagues. Graduate-and postdoctoral-level interventions aid the process whereby individuals form the networks that lead to job opportunities, shared research and, ultimately, a sense of the possibilities, both personal and professional, in their chosen fields of study. As shown in Figure 5-1, the percentage of women enrolled in graduate S&E programs is on the rise in all fields except computer science and the social sciences. Of some concern, however, is the lengthening time-to-degree of students pursuing doctorates in science and engineering. In all fields except engineering, women tend to have longer registered time-to-degree (RTD) and total time-to-degree (TTD), which is the total number of years elapsed between earning the baccalaureate and the doctorate, including time not enrolled at a university (Table 5-1). However, in most fields these differences are becoming minimal.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 67
Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women? 5 PROMOTING GRADUATE AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDIES IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING Joan Sherry Linda Skidmore Dix Joan Sherry is a free-lance science writer and editor who works in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Linda Skidmore Dix is the study director for the National Research Council's Committee on Women in Science and Engineering (CWSE). They developed this chapter from the formal presentations and discussions at the conference, ''Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women?," held by CWSE at the Beckman Center, Irvine, CA, November 4–5, 1991. Introduction The graduate level is the bridge between interest and careers in science and engineering, but the percentage of U.S. students pursuing graduate degrees has begun to decline. Thus, interventions at this level are necessary not only to bring U.S. students into the field, but also to shape their view of themselves, their studies, and their professional colleagues. Graduate-and postdoctoral-level interventions aid the process whereby individuals form the networks that lead to job opportunities, shared research and, ultimately, a sense of the possibilities, both personal and professional, in their chosen fields of study. As shown in Figure 5-1, the percentage of women enrolled in graduate S&E programs is on the rise in all fields except computer science and the social sciences. Of some concern, however, is the lengthening time-to-degree of students pursuing doctorates in science and engineering. In all fields except engineering, women tend to have longer registered time-to-degree (RTD) and total time-to-degree (TTD), which is the total number of years elapsed between earning the baccalaureate and the doctorate, including time not enrolled at a university (Table 5-1). However, in most fields these differences are becoming minimal.

OCR for page 67
Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women? SOURCES: National Science Foundation, Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering (NSF 90–301), Washington, DC: NSF, 1990, p. 138; Science & Engineering Indicators: 1991 (Tenth Edition) (NSF 91-1), Washington, DC: NSF, 1991, p. 239. Figure 5-1. Women as a percentage of graduate enrollment, by science and engineering field, 1988 and 1990.

OCR for page 67
Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women? TABLE 5-1: Median Years to Degrees for Doctorate Recipients, by Demographic Group and Broad Field, 1990   NOTE: Medians are based on the number of individuals who have provided complete information about their postbaccalaureate education. See technical notes in Appendix C for rates of nonresponse to the applicable questions. * Includes mathematics and computer sciences. SOURCE: Delores H. Thurgood and Joanne M. Weinman, Summary Report 1990. Doctorate Recipients from United States Universities, Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1991.

OCR for page 67
Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women? Experience indicates that successful programs at the graduate level of education are addressed to specifically identified needs, demonstrate multiple linkages between graduate school and other populations, and are characterized by substantial faculty or mentor commitment. This chapter discusses some model graduate and postdoctoral interventions sponsored by professional societies, universities, private foundations and companies, and federal agencies. The Irvine conference presentations significantly broadened the definition of intervention at the graduate level by suggesting a wide spectrum of programs and outcomes aimed at recruitment and retention of women in S&E (Marrett, 1991). While many of the interventions discussed involve financial aid programs, others go beyond. The spectrum includes: studies of the patterns of participation by women in all activities at the graduate level. The processes by which men and women move through graduate school activities are not necessarily the same; do we know in what ways they are different? initiatives and efforts that are not interventions in a structural sense but nevertheless affect outcomes—for example, student membership in professional societies, caucuses, associations, support groups, and coalitions. Such associations provide intangible as well as tangible benefits and often benefit older, professional members of the group as much as students. systemic approaches that alter institutions or settings. A teaching fellowship training program that includes training on sensitivity to gender issues is an intervention that can change the setting in which teaching and research are done and in which the pursuit of careers takes place. grassroots efforts. All effective programs are not necessarily created centrally and may benefit the creators as much or more than the populations at whom they are directed. Interventions Sponsored by Professional Societies Professional societies make a valuable and positive contribution to the promotion of women in science and engineering. According to Kagiwada (1991), such societies provide proof that women scientists and engineers do exist and offer a forum for recognizing outstanding performance by women professionals in S&E fields; serve as points of contact for women who wish to interact with others in their specific disciplines or in science and engineering

OCR for page 67
Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women? in general; provide financial aid to undergraduate and graduate students as well as to postdoctoral women who need a boost to continue their work and their careers; offer career advancement training seminars and workshops as well as technical seminars for the presentation of research papers; offer opportunities for leadership and the development of managerial and administrative skills through volunteer participation in the society's organization and work; and offer friendship and camaraderie with fellow members, thus forming a network that cuts across many traditional boundaries. Graduate Women in Science (GWIS) is an example of such a professional society. It was founded by a group of graduate women students at Cornell in 1921 as a scientific fraternity for women. Membership requires a degree in science or engineering and research or equivalent professional experience. The society has provided financial aid from its earliest days, when members collected and distributed $50 to members needing money for research. Currently, potential award recipients are identified from responses to an annual advertisement in Science magazine. The total annual amount of the awards is derived from endowments made from the estates of members. In the 1990–91 fiscal year, 270 applications were received and 7 awards made, totaling $20,000 (Kagiwada, 1991).1 At the graduate level, the need for mentoring continues with an increased focus on career advice and professional goals. The structure of the graduate mentoring program sponsored by the Association for Women in Science, with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, remains very similar to the format of its undergraduate program (see Chapter 4). Chapter activities facilitate communication and support among women at all levels who are interested in science, as well as provide mechanisms for women science professionals to share their experience and understanding of the social structure and function of the scientific community with students. An emphasis on career-directing occurs with discussions on career paths, balancing a career and family, dual career families as well as greater exposure to the scientific 1   In addition to the graduate level aid, several local chapters provide undergraduate scholarships by soliciting donations from local companies. The association also presents recognition awards to outstanding women in science and engineering.

OCR for page 67
Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women? community through attendance at professional meetings and development of colleagues beyond the institution in which the mentoring program is based. Other programs sponsored by professional societies are listed in Appendix A. Although most of the programs do not specifically target women, they nevertheless have provided assistance to women. Interventions Sponsored by Universities Linkage or interaction at all levels—graduate and undergraduate student bodies, administration, and faculty—was a recurring theme in both the conference presentations and deliberations of successful interventions at the graduate and postdoctoral levels (see, for instance, Sheridan, 1991) and is evident in many of the programs listed in Appendix A. Another recurring theme was the need to identify issues before taking action (Marrett, 1991). There are many ways to achieve linkages. The programs described below demonstrate three kinds of linkages: administrative/functional, through centralized management of fellowships, access programs, and faculty and teaching assistant (TA) training; institutional, through creation of structures within the university that encourage the interaction of populations and levels; and consortial, through programs implemented at numerous institutional sites and coordinated by an external organization. A clarification of each of these types of linkages is provided by the illustrative examples given in the text below. Administrative Linkages The University of Missouri-Columbia competitive fellowship program for minorities, the Gus T. Ridgel program, initiated in 1989 and targeted mainly but not exclusively toward African-Americans, illustrates administrative linkage. The program provides two-year support for master's students and four-year support for Ph.D. candidates. The $12,000 annual stipend comes from $9,000 in centralized university funds and $3,000 in departmental research or teaching assistantship funds. The commitment of departmental funds encourages faculty participation and helps to assure that minority

OCR for page 67
Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women? recipients participate in departmental activities as much as other research (RAs) or teaching assistants (TAs) (Sheridan, 1991). Of the 70 African-American students in the program thus far, 20 are in science and engineering, and 9 of them are women. The program is managed through a single Office of Fellowships and Graduate Student Affairs under an Associate Dean, with responsibility for recruitment of all graduate students, not just minorities. That office also administers the university's graduate access programs. Training of TAs and training and support for excellence in teaching by faculty at Missouri-Columbia are also administered by a single university office, that of the Vice Provost for Minority Affairs and Faculty Development. A number of federal grant programs at the university are both obtained and administered by the same support office, even though the programs may be in different departments. The present TA training program at Missouri-Columbia includes an intervention that has affected the institutional setting for graduate education. The training program at the university was organized in response to a law passed by the Missouri legislature requiring specialized training or a special exemption for TAs whose native language was not English. The university set up a special program that quickly evolved to a program including most of the American TAs, as well as the foreign-born assistants. The program has been so successful that, over a three-year period, student and parent complaints dropped from repeated to essentially no complaints (Sheridan, 1991). One of the more successful elements in the program, and one that changed gender sensitivity attitudes, has been the videotaping with feedback sessions that are part of the training course. Although the trainers originally assumed gender sensitivity would be more of a problem for foreign trainees than for Americans, this did not turn out to be the case. It was rather a problem of individuals, American as well as foreign, many of whom did not realize what they were doing when addressing women students until they saw themselves on tape. The videotape sessions are now included in training for new faculty, as well as for TAs. Institutional Linkages Another example of linkage at Missouri-Columbia is the Graduate Outreach Workshop (G.R.O.W.). The objectives of this student-initiated and student-run program include the following: to interest all students, especially women and minorities, in science and science careers; to illustrate basic principles of

OCR for page 67
Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women? research with real-life examples of graduate research; and to decrease student anxiety about science and science fields (Sheridan, 1991). The program is directed at junior and senior high school students, and Dean Sheridan reports it started in reaction to an article written by Carl Sagan lamenting the problem of scientific literacy and the decreasing number of younger students going into science. The graduate students said, ''You know, what we are doing is exciting; how come kids in junior high school and high school don't understand it? Maybe we can do something about it." They wrote to a number of high school teachers but received no response. Rather than be dissuaded, the students organized themselves in order to go through the process of obtaining a $2,000 Kellogg grant through the university's extension division. By late 1991, G.R.O.W. had made five presentations and had six more scheduled, all on the original $2,000 grant. A high proportion of the participants are women. There are 20 active G.R.O.W. students, of whom 13 are women, and more are being recruited (by G.R.O.W. students) from several departments in the biomedical sciences. The importance of the G.R.O.W. example lies as much, or perhaps more, in its effect on the graduate student initiators as on the secondary school students at whom the program is aimed. The example of graduate students endeavoring to communicate to others their own excitement about science while still in graduate school bodes well for the future of the professoriate as well as for research. Furthermore, that concept is endorsed by both students and faculty. For instance, at the Presidential Young Investigator (PYI) Colloquium on U.S. Engineering, Mathematics, and Science Education for the Year 2010 and Beyond, held on November 4–6, 1990, participants noted that: Students must be active contributors in their own education and in the education of their fellow students.... Prerequisites should not necessarily impede a student's progress; for example, we suggest student tutoring teams be formed in classes with prerequisites in which students will help fellow team members with prerequisite material they know best, and vice versa (NSF, 1992). Furthermore, the PYIs recommended that higher education

OCR for page 67
Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women? develop prestigious teaching internships for engineering, mathematics, and science graduate students aspiring to faculty careers in higher education. The internships would be to recruit and better prepare graduate students for their full responsibilities as future members of academe, and especially to improve their abilities in effective teaching and instructional scholarship (NSF, 1992). Another institutional linkage program is the University of Maryland's program in toxicology. At that university, retention rather than recruitment of graduate students in the field of toxicology was identified as the real need. To enhance retention, Fowler (1991) points out there must be an environment that permits students to develop confidence in themselves and their work, substantial commitment on the part of faculty, and money to fund the interventions. The Maryland program, which included 20 women and 10 men in 1991, establishes a confidence-building environment by inviting student-run seminars and including student evaluations of the seminars; encouraging student participation in scientific meetings; and bringing in a series of outside speakers who act as role models or mentors. Another important feature is an open management style that gives the students access to the program director in his/her office at any time. The program gives students up to two years to select an adviser and includes rotating laboratory assignments with faculty during this initial period. Faculty interest and funding are both aided by the program's focus on multidisciplinary research projects. Grants for multidisciplinary investigations are often easier to obtain than those for narrower projects, but the key factor, according to Director Fowler, is diversity of funding sources, since nothing works all the time. Even though the program has been overwhelmingly successful, certain problems have not been overcome—for example, self-limiting behavior by students because of prior life experience and funding cutbacks by the state because of unfavorable economic conditions. The program has been evaluated by the NIH Training Grant Review process and the University of Maryland self-study review. A third example of institutional linkage can be found at the University of California at Berkeley. From 1985 to 1990, women at Berkeley earned

OCR for page 67
Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women? SOURCE: Maresi Nerad, Using Time, Money, and Human Resources Efficiently and Effectively in the Case of Women Graduate Students, paper prepared for conference on "Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women?," Irvine, CA, November 4–5, 1991. Figure 5-2. Mean time to doctoral degree, University of California-Berkeley, 1986–1991, by sex. approximately half of all undergraduate degrees but only 30 percent of all graduate degrees. In many fields, there is a 50 percent reduction in women's participation rate from undergraduate to graduate studies (Nerad, 1991). In light of these statistics and the need to identify the specific situations that give rise to them, the Graduate Research section of the Graduate Division at Berkeley has begun systematic and continuous analysis of graduate admissions and programs and has institutionalized programs through which faculty, students, and graduate department secretaries can apply the results of the Graduate Division's data collection and analyses. These programs are discussed in greater detail below.

OCR for page 67
Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women? SOURCE: Maresi Nerad, Using Time, Money, and Human Resources Efficiently and Effectively in the Case of Women Graduate Students, paper prepared for conference on ''Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women?," Irvine, CA, November 4–5, 1991. Figure 5-3. Doctoral completion rates, University of California-Berkeley, 1978–79 cohort, by sex. Berkeley's analysis of institutional data revealed the following. The average time-to-degree for all doctoral recipients (3,917) from 1986-1991 was 6.5 years, with the average time for women 7.7 years. However, women took slightly less time than men in the physical sciences (5.6 versus 5.9 years), and only slightly longer than men in the biological sciences (6.2 versus 5.9 years) and engineering (6.1 versus 5.7 years) (see Figure 5-2).

OCR for page 67
Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women? TABLE 5-6: NSF Graduate Fellowship Program Applications and Awards, by Sex, 1985 and 1992 Discipline 1985 1992 1985 1992   M W M W M W M W   Total Applicants Total Awards N 2776 1614 4387 3336 362 178 450 290 % 63.2 36.8 56.8 43.2 67.0 33.0 60.8 39.2 Biochem* 246 167 268 268 32 16 26 23   59.6 40.4 50.0 50.0 66.7 33.3 53.1 46.9 Biology 298 274 364 499 32 40 27 46   52.1 42.9 42.2 57.8 44.4 55.6 37.0 63.0 Chemistry 219 118 293 160 32 9 39 8   65.0 35.0 64.7 35.3 78.0 22.0 83.0 17.0 Earth Sci 151 88 125 87 20 9 12 7   63.2 36.8 59.0 41.0 69.0 31.0 63.1 36.9 Appl Math/ 80 39 106 89 14 1 13 3 Statistics 67.2 32.8 54.3 45.7 93.3 6.7 81.2 18.8 Mathematics 105 43 175 83 19 1 23 3   70.9 29.1 67.8 32.2 95.0 5.0 88.5 11.5 Physics and 309 44 394 93 39 6 35 12 Astronomy 87.5 12.5 80.9 19.1 86.7 13.3 74.5 25.5 Behavioral 397 436 791 935 50 50 77 65 Sciences** 47.7 52.3 45.8 54.2 50.0 50.0 54.2 45.8 Biomedical 154 208 192 279 15 28 14 25 Sciences 42.5 57.5 40.8 59.2 42.5 57.5 35.9 64.1 Computer 182 54 302 90 27 3 30 2 Science 77.1 22.9 77.0 23.0 90.0 10.0 93.8 6.2 Engineering 635 143 1377 753 82 15 154 96   81.6 18.4 64.7 35.3 84.5 15.5 61.6 38.4 * Includes biochemsitry, biophysics, and molecular biology. ** Prior to 1991, this field included psychology, economics, and sociology. Becasue the disaggregation of behavioral sciences—into (1) anthropology, sociology, and linguistics; (2) economicis, urban planning, and history of sciences; (3) political science, international relations, and geography, and (4) psychology—did not occur until 1991, a single category is used here. SOURCE: National Resource Council, Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel, Fellowships Office.

OCR for page 67
Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women? Alaskan, or Native Pacific Islander—for "if we genuinely want to achieve our goal of filling vacant faculty, research, and industrial positions, we will find ourselves increasingly dependent on minority talent" (Bloch, 1988). As shown in Table 5-7, gender equity in both applications and awards has, in the aggregate, been reached. However, disparities occur in broad fields—that is, greater percentages of women apply for awards in the biosciences and behavioral sciences while men tend to apply for fellowships in the physical sciences and engineering. It should also be noted that the success rate of women is much higher in the fields of chemistry, earth science, physics/astronomy/mathematics, and behavioral sciences in the Minority Graduate Program than in NSF's Graduate Fellowship Program. Postdoctoral Research Associateship Program Many federal programs provide an opportunity for individual scientists and engineers to link their own research projects to the ongoing work of federal research centers. One such program is the Research Associateships Program administered by the National Research Council (NRC), which provides support for one-to three-year periods for "postdoctoral scientists and engineers of unusual promise and ability." The program expects to award approximately 350 new Research Associateships in 1992, for a total of approximately $30 million. The NRC Postdoctoral Research Associateships (PRAs) are open to U.S. citizens (with one exception) who have completed doctorates within five years of the date of application. Resident Research Associateships are open to citizen and foreign national senior investigators as well as to recent doctoral graduates. Senior Research Associateships are open to applicants who have held a doctorate for more than five years. Appendix A fists programs offered in 1992. Figure 5-4 reveals the increasing number of PRAs awarded to women in recent years; the decline in numbers of awards to both women and men, beginning in 1990, reflects the fact that 1990 was the first year in which awardees could receive third-year funding for their research, limiting the number of new awards made by the laboratories. Drawing from Figure 5-4, we note that the percentage of PRAs awarded to women has more than doubled since 1979, although the progress has not been steady: Year % to Women 1979 8.9 1980 9.6 1981 12.0 1982 8.4 1984 13.7 1985 18.4 1986 15.2 1987 20.4 1988 21.0 1989 19.3 1990 18.6 1991 19.3

OCR for page 67
Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women? TABLE 5-7: NSF Minority Graduate Fellowship Program Applications and Awards, by Sex, 1985 and 1992 Discipline 1985 1992   Men Women Men Women Total Applicants N 298 305 713 767 % 49.4 50.6 48.2 51.8 Biosciences* 62 79 107 169   44.0 56.0 38.8 61.2 Chemistry/Earth Science 27 22 46 54   55.1 44.9 46.0 54.0 Physics/Astronomy/Math 37 32 114 92   53.6 46.4 55.3 44.7 Behavioral Science** 68 116 183 287   37.0 63.0 38.9 61.1 Engineering 65 35 263 165   65.0 35.0 61.4 38.6 Total Awards N 39 21 61 59 % 65.0 35.0 50.8 49.2 Biosciences* 10 5 12 8   66.7 33.3 60.0 40.0 Chemistry/ 2 2 2 5 Earth Science 50.0 50.0 28.6 71.4 Physics/Astronomy/ 6 1 7 8 Math 85.7 14.3 46.7 53.3 Behavioral Science** 12 11 13 22   52.2 47.8 37.1 62.9 Engineering 9 2 27 16   81.8 18.2 62.8 37.2 * Includes biology, biochemistry, biophysics, and biomedical science. ** Includes anthropology, sociology, and linguistics; economics, urban planning, and history of science; political science, international relations, and geography; and psychology. SOURCE: National Research Council, Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel, Fellowships Office.

OCR for page 67
Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women? SOURCE: National Research Council, Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel, Committee on NRC Research Associates' Career Outcomes. Figure 5-4. Number of new awards, NRC Postdoctoral Research Associateship Program, 1979–1991, by sex.

OCR for page 67
Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women? TABLE 5-8: Applications and Awards to Women in NIST/NRC Postdoctoral Research Associateship Program, 1987–1991   Total Number of Female Applicants Awards to Women Year Applicants No. % (%) 1987 106 14 13.2 13.6 1988 114 14 12.3 14.3 1989 104 12 11.5 22.7 1990 121 16 13.2 16.0 1991 185 19 10.3 11.5 1992 208 25 12.0 19.4   SOURCE: Burton H. Colvin, The NIST/NRC Postdoctoral Research Associateship Program, paper presented at the National Research Council conference on "Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women?," Irvine, CA, November 4–5, 1991. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) sponsors a Postdoctoral Research Associateship Program in chemistry, mathematics, and physics. The NIST/NRC program is not specifically an intervention or recruitment program, but its outcomes with respect to the participation of women have had the effect of interventions and are probably characteristic in many ways of the experience of the 35 other federal laboratories that participate with the NRC in similar programs (Colvin, 1991). The associateships were initiated at NIST in 1954 with positions available in three fields of mathematics, seven fields of physics, and three chemistry fields and a gross stipend of $5,940. The 1992 announcement offers 500 research opportunities with 455 different research advisers and an annual stipend of $44,000 (Colvin, 1991). Although no special effort has been made to increase the participation of women, their percentage has, in fact, increased; for example, for the years 1987–1992, the percent of awards to women at NIST exceeded the percent of applications by women, as shown in Table 5-8. While the percentages of awards to women throughout the NRC Postdoctoral Associateship Programs are holding steady at about 20 percent, at NIST the average has been lower. The total percent of awards to women for the period

OCR for page 67
Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women? 1987–1991 is 15.5 percent, compared to 9.7 percent for the period 1979–1985 (Colvin, 1991). In comparison, women received 22.8 percent of an Ph.D.s awarded in science and engineering disciplines during the 1978–1984 period and 26.2 percent in the 1985–1988 time period (NSF 1990). In the years since 1954, NIST, which has approximately 3,000 full-time employees and 1,000 guest researchers, has appointed a total of 679 research associates (about 40 percent of those in the program) to its staff. Forty-seven (7 percent) of these appointees have been women. The CWSE conference confirmed that graduate-and postdoctoral-level interventions sponsored by the federal government are more likely to be available to women, rather than targeted to them. Nevertheless, the programs offer a wide variety of choices (Appendix A). Future Directions Graduate and postdoctoral interventions aimed at recruiting and retaining more women in scientific and technical fields serve the interests of sponsors and of education in general, as well as the interests of women. The model programs described above provide new ways of addressing the issues and suggest ways that elements of these programs can be replicated in other places and other situations. An important fact about them is that the models almost always include three elements identified as characteristic of successful programs: (1) specific identification of needs, (2) a total or holistic approach, with multiple linkages between graduate education and other populations, and (3) substantial faculty or mentor commitment as well as support from the head of the sponsoring organization (Fowler, 1991; Marrett, 1991; Nerad, 1991; Sheridan, 1991; Snow, 1991). This support includes commitments of both staff and money to initiate and maintain the program. An additional aspect of effective programs is opportunities for networking. Although such programs were not part of the formal discussions at the conference on S&E programs held by the National Research Council's Committee on Women in Science and Engineering, it is important to note the existence at the graduate level of informal strategies for increasing the numbers of women receiving master's and doctorates in S&E disciplines. While often operating without commitment from, or even knowledge of, the president, the graduate dean of a university, or even (in some cases) the department head, these activities often reflect the commitment of faculty

OCR for page 67
Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women? within an individual department to achieving this goal. Such interventions include active support groups where graduate students in the same or related departments meet together for discussions on how to get ahead and bow to cope with daily problems in the classroom, in the research environment, and with colleagues and supervisors. They also include programs of visiting scientists and engineers, who meet with the students and other interested people to discuss and facilitate the careers of these students in science and engineering. Among recurring topics of discussion are the relationship of a female student with her peers and with her research adviser, balancing career and family responsibilities, and strategies to eliminate the "chilly environment" often encountered by women pursuing graduate studies and later employment in the sciences and engineering. During informal discussions, participants at the Conference on Science and Engineering Programs noted that the incidence of such informal programs is increasing on U.S. campuses, particularly as professional S&E societies and individual practitioners seek to encourage more women to enter S&E careers. The replication of successful models for interventions is needed in graduate education. For example, Figure 5-5 reveals that in the sciences and engineering, only in psychology did more women receive advanced degrees than men in 1990; in general, differences between women's and men's shares of advanced degrees are particularly great at the doctoral level. Nevertheless, in spite of their potential benefits for increasing the number of women receiving graduate degrees in the sciences and engineering, efforts targeted toward women graduate students are presently extremely limited in both number and kind and are primarily in the form of recruitment and/or financial support rather than interactive retention support programs (Bogart, 1984; U.S. Congress, 1988; White House, 1989). As at the undergraduate level, "a coherent, coordinated, articulated structural approach has yet to be achieved by institutions" (Matyas and Malcolm, 1991), and little is known about the evaluation of such programs. Listed below are some future directions for effective intervention in graduate and postdoctoral S&E education suggested by conference participants: "Confidence building" techniques should be developed so that women graduate students gain both scientific expertise and effective communication skills that will permit them to go forward in careers in science and mathematics with a high degree of comfort and

OCR for page 67
Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women? confidence. These are clearly good skills to be developed at both the mentor/adviser and the departmental levels. In addition, to retain graduate students in the sciences and engineering, departments and institutions must develop programs of positive incentives for faculty. Research from numerous sources, such as the Association of American Colleges' Project on the Status and Education of Women, have shown the important role of faculty in decisions by students to continue advanced study; this is particularly true for women students in the sciences and engineering. However, unless faculty are active participants in the development of student retention programs and the faculty are rewarded for their efforts, such programs seldom achieve their goal of greater retention of women students. The ''level playing field'' concept for women graduate students must be concretely and articulately demonstrated by upper management of the academic institution. As Sandier (1986) noted, the institutional environment for women is often "chilly," particularly for women pursuing careers in "nontraditional" fields. At all levels—institution, department, and individual mentor—sensitivity, flexibility, and understanding of child bearing/rearing issues must be demonstrated in order to avoid discouragement and loss of talented female graduate students from these fields into others where time for a family is more easily managed. The philosophy that "it is the people, not the bricks" that make any laboratory group, department, school, or university excellent must be inculcated. Resolving issues related to balancing family and scientific career goals for women graduate students must be a high priority for any academic institution. This means that upper university management must do more than articulate a philosophy toward women graduate students that removes penalties or other discouragements for bearing children or even getting married. Upper management must demonstrate its commitment to putting that philosophy into action. Ideally, the institution could provide an on-site day-care facility similar to those already present at many federal laboratories and private companies and develop flexible leave policies for essential family/parenting activities. The lack of such support mechanisms is currently strong discouragement for many young graduate women scientists, mathematicians, and engineers who are attempting to balance beginning a family with graduate education.

OCR for page 67
Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women? SOURCE: National Science Foundation, Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering (NSF 90–301), Washington, DC: NSF, 1990, p. 22. Figure 5-5. Percentage of advanced degrees in science and engineering granted to women, by field, 1990.

OCR for page 67
Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women? Clear, flexible, and efficient policies and programs to address these concerns could benefit both female and male graduate students. REFERENCES Bird, Stephanie J. 1992. Personal communication to Gaelyn Davidson, July 30, 1992. Bloch, Erich. 1988. From the director. In National Science Foundation, Legacy to Tomorrow (NSF 88-49), Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Bogart, Karen. 1984. Toward Equity. An Action Manual for Women in Academe. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges. Colvin, Burton H. 1991. The NIST/NRC Postdoctoral Research Associateship Program. Paper presented at the National Research Council conference on "Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women?" Irvine, CA, November 4–5. Fowler, Bruce. 1991. University of Maryland Programs in Toxicology . Paper presented at the National Research Council conference on "Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women?" Irvine, CA, November 4–5. Hall, Roberta M. 1982. The Classroom Climate. A Chilly One for Women? Washington, DC: Project on the Status and Education of Women, Association of American Colleges. ____, and Bernice R. Sandler. 1984. Out of the Classroom: A Chilly Campus Climate for Women? Washington, DC: Project on the Status and Education of Women, Association of American Colleges. Kagiwada, Harriet H. N. 1991. Fellowships and Societies for Women in Engineering. Paper presented at the National Research Council conference on "Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women?" Irvine, CA, November 4–5. Marrett, Cora. 1991. Discussion at the conference on "Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women?" Irvine, CA, November 4–5. Matyas, Marsha Lakes, and Malcom, Shirley M. (eds.). 1991. Investing in Human Potential: Science and Engineering at the Crossroads. Washington, DC: American Association for the Advancement of Science. National Science Board. 1991. Science & Engineering Indicators: 1991 (Tenth Edition) (NSF 91-1), Washington, DC: NSF.

OCR for page 67
Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women? National Science Foundation (NSF). 1988. Legacy to Tomorrow (NSF 88-49), Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. ____. 1990. Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering (NSF 90-301). Washington, DC: NSF. ____. 1992. America's Academic Future: A Report of the Presidential Young Investigator Colloquium on U.S. Engineering, Mathematics, and Science Education for the Year 2010 and Beyond (NSF 91-150). Washington, DC: NSF. Nerad, Maresi. 1991. Using Time, Money, and Human Resources Efficiently and Effectively in the Case of Women Graduate Students. Conference on "Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women?" Irvine, CA, November 4–5. ____, and Joseph Cerny. 1991. From facts to action: Expanding the educational role of the graduate division. CGS Communicator May:8. Washington, DC: Council of Graduate Schools in the United States. Ruppenthal, Karol. 1991. Summary presentation, session on graduate education at the conference on "Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women?" Irvine, CA, November 4–5. Sandler, Bernice R. 1986. The Campus Climate Revisited: Chilly for Women Faculty, Administrators, and Graduate Students. Washington, DC: Project on the Status and Education of Women, Association of American Colleges. Sheridan, Judson D. 1991. Intervention Programs at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Paper presented at the National Research Council conference on "Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women?" Irvine, CA, November 4–5. Sloan Foundation. 1991. Project Summaries. Conference on Science and Engineering Education, New York, July 23. Snow, L. Nan. 1991. The National Physical Science Consortium. Paper presented at the National Research Council conference on "Science and Engineering Programs: On Target for Women?" Irvine, CA, November 4–5. U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment. 1988. Educating Scientists and Engineers: Grade School to Grad School (OTA-SET-377). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. White House Task Force on Women, Minorities, and the Handicapped in Science and Technology. 1989. Changing America: The New Face of Science and Technology (Final Report). Washington, DC: The Task Force.