sures of status, such as becoming a full professor in a research university, did not expand proportionately.

This report documents many dimensions of the changing representation of women in science and engineering. Using data from two NSF data bases—the Survey of Earned Doctorates for new Ph.D.s and the Survey of Doctoral Recipients for the S&E doctoral workforce—it brings together data on the educational background and demographic characteristics of three decades of new Ph.D.s and then examines their careers as described by the data.

Although the report refers to explanations for the observed changes that are found in the literature, the focus is on the analysis of a very rich data set, not on establishing the root causes that give rise to the observed outcomes. It is the hope of the committee that this report will provide a common basis for decisionmakers in academia, industry and government to discuss whether the differences in career outcomes for women scientists and engineers are a matter for concern. It can identify areas where differences are greatest or most intractable, but it is left to policymakers to discuss what steps should be taken to narrow differences further.


Degree Attainment and Educational Background

  1. From 1970 to 1995, there were significant advances in the entry of women into science and engineering. In the five broad fields considered (engineering, physical sciences, mathematical sciences, life sciences, and social/behavioral sciences) there were 350 percent more women among new Ph.D.s in 1995 than in 1973. In the social and behavioral sciences, women were just over half of the Ph.Ds in 1995 and in the life sciences they reached over 40 percent.

  2. Despite these strides toward equal representation in science and engineering, women are not anywhere close to being equally represented in all science and engineering fields. In 1995 they were 18 percent of bachelor’s degrees and 12 percent of Ph.D.s in engineering, compared to 50 percent and 40 percent, respectively, in the biological sciences.

  3. The move toward equal representation in doctorate achievement in science and engineering has been accompanied by growing similarities among men and women in background characteristics, such as parental educational background, type of baccalaureate institution, ranking of Ph.D. program, time to degree, and type of funding of graduate education. However, women are still less likely to obtain undergraduate degrees from Ph.D. granting institutions and more likely to take longer from time of baccalaureate to Ph.D.

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