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FEMALE ENGINEERING FACULTY AT U.S. INSTITUTIONS: A DATA PROFILE II. HIGHLIGHTS Demographics Age 69 percent of Female Engineering Faculty (FEF) were less than 45 years old; only 7 percent were age 55 or older (Table 1-1). FEF with a degree in aerospace/industrial engineering or materials science/plastics/ceramics engineering had the highest proportion of individuals under age 35 (33 and 26 percent, respectively). FEF whose highest degree was in an engineering field tended to be distributed more heavily in the younger age cohorts than those with a degree in a non-engineering field (Figure 1-1). Race/Ethnicity 81 percent of FEF were white, 10 percent were Asians/Pacific Islanders, and 8 percent were underrepresented minorities (Table 1-2). Electrical/computer engineering had the highest proportion of Asians/Pacific Islanders (19 percent); aerospace/industrial engineering and other engineering had the highest proportions of underrepresented minorities (13 and 12 percent, respectively). Citizenship 12 percent of FEF were foreign citizens; foreign citizens were in the highest proportion in the fields of electrical/computer engineering, physical sciences, and civil engineering (between 18 and 21 percent) (Table 1-3). Marital Status/Family 57 percent of FEF had one or more dependents (Table 1-4). Of those married (73 percent of FEF respondents), 80 percent said that their spouse had completed a degree in science or engineering and 77 percent had a spouse working in science or engineering. The spouses of FEF were most likely to have been employed in a 4-year college/university (41 percent) or for-profit business (31 percent) (Figure 1-2). Education/Employment of Parents Most parents of FEF had received at least a high school diploma (89 percent of mothers and 91 percent of fathers). Many had also gone further in their education, with 48 percent of
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FEMALE ENGINEERING FACULTY AT U.S. INSTITUTIONS: A DATA PROFILE mothers and 64 percent of fathers receiving a bachelor’s degree or higher (Table 1-5 and Figure 1-3). More mothers had some undergraduate education, but more fathers achieved postbaccalaureate degrees (Table 1-5). The employment sector of the mothers of FEF was most likely to have been elementary/secondary school or for-profit business (18 and 15 percent, respectively). 24 percent of FEF reported “not applicable” for their mothers’ employment sector. Fathers of FEF were most likely to be working in a for-profit business (39 percent), be self-employed (18 percent), or working in the government sector (16 percent) (Table 1-6). Education Level of Highest Degree The majority of female engineering faculty held Ph.D.s (676, or 87 percent). Of the remaining 99 individuals, 70 held master’s degrees, 9 held bachelor’s degrees, 3 reported some other postsecondary degree, and 17 did not give information on their educational history (Table 2-1; Figure 2-1). Field of Highest Degree Of the FEF with Ph.D.s who identified a field, 97 percent were in engineering and sciences compared to only 3 percent of those in “other fields” (Table 2-2). For all degree levels, 71 percent of the FEF held their highest degree in an engineering field (Figure 2-2). Year of Highest Degree 80 percent of the Ph.D.s reported were earned between 1980 and 1996. 43 percent of the degrees were earned in the 1980s and 37 percent in the 1990s (Table 2-3). A higher proportion of Asians/Pacific Islanders and underrepresented minorities earned their highest degree in the 1990s (47 and 49 percent, respectively) than whites (35 percent) (Table 2-4; Figure 2-3). Postsecondary Education FEF in the study reported earning 771 bachelor’s degrees from 287 different institutions. 1 Table 3-5 lists the top producing institutions, headed by the Massachusetts Institute of 1 Thirty-eight individuals reported earning two bachelor’s degrees.
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FEMALE ENGINEERING FACULTY AT U.S. INSTITUTIONS: A DATA PROFILE Technology with 25 bachelor’s degrees granted to FEF. In Table 3-6 , the bachelor’s degreegranting institutions were categorized by the Carnegie classification. 2 • The 676 Ph.D.s earned by FEF were granted by 159 institutions. Again, Massachusetts Institute of Technology led in number of Ph.D.s granted (48), followed by Stanford University and University of California, Berkeley (38 and 37, respectively) (Table 2-7). The large majority of Ph.D.s were earned at Research I institutions (76 percent). Only a small proportion of the Ph.D. degrees were earned at foreign institutions (7 percent) (Table 2-8). Decision to Become an Engineer 42 percent of FEF reported that they decided to become engineers before entering engineering college; an additional 20 percent made the decision in the first two years of college (Figure 2-4). The dominant influences on FEF deciding to become engineers were family and friends (26 percent), self-perceptions e.g., interest and ability in science or mathematics, and perception of what engineers do (24 percent), and factors related to employment e.g., job experiences, opportunity to teach or do research (18 percent) (Figure 2-5). Postsecondary Mentoring A mentor was defined as “a male or female who is knowledgeable about engineering, both theory and practice, and who takes an active interest in a person’s career development.” Among the mentoring activities listed, three were reported most frequently (between 66 and 68 percent): counseled and directed research * provided opportunities to serve as research assistant * served as a role model * research mentorship 40 to 68 percent of FEF reported experiencing each type of mentoring listed on the survey ( Figure 2-6 ). The majority of FEF (63 percent) decided to pursue academic careers during graduate school or after earning their highest degree (Figure 2-7). 2 The Carnegie classifications were developed by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The 1994 edition, which was used for this report, groups accredited U.S. institutions into 11 categories, based on the level of degrees they award, the fields in which the degrees are conferred, and in some categories, enrollment, federal research support, and selectivity of admissions criteria.
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FEMALE ENGINEERING FACULTY AT U.S. INSTITUTIONS: A DATA PROFILE Employment Academic Rank Nearly three-fourths of FEF were assistant or associate professors (39 percent and 34 percent, respectively). 18 percent held full professorships (Table 3-1). FEF with a degree in physical sciences were most likely to be full professors (40 percent, compared with 18 percent of FEF overall). It should be noted that 48 percent of the FEF in physical sciences received their degrees prior to 1980 (compared with 16 percent of FEF overall), and therefore had more time to achieve higher academic ranks (Table 2-3). Tenure Nearly one-half (49 percent) of FEF were tenured, and another 39 percent were in tenuretrack positions. Only 7 percent were not on tenure track and 5 percent said tenure was not applicable either to their position or to their institution (Table 3-2). Women with a degree in mathematical sciences/operations research or physical sciences were more likely to be tenured (70 percent and 64 percent, respectively). Among women whose highest degree was earned in engineering, the largest proportion in tenured positions were women with chemical/mineral engineering degrees (60 percent). Whites and Asians/Pacific Islanders were more likely to be tenured (49 percent for each) than underrepresented minorities (30 percent) (Figure 3-1). 50 percent of FEF felt that tenure criteria at their institutions were clear and well-defined. The proportion with this perception was higher among women who had achieved tenure than among those on tenure track (55 percent compared with 45 percent) (Table 3-3). A majority of both those tenured and those on tenure track believed the tenure policies under which they operated were fair to women (64 percent and 60 percent, respectively). Primary Work Activity and Field of Teaching or Research Respondents were asked to provide the percentage of time spent in various work activities. The activity with the highest percentage was designated as the primary work activity for the purposes of analysis. When teaching and research were both reported at 50 percent, the combination “teaching/research” was considered the primary work activity. The most common primary work activity was teaching (44 percent), followed by research (28 percent), teaching/research (15 percent), and administration (7 percent) (Table 3-4). FEF who received their highest degree in “other fields” (i.e., a field outside of engineering, mathematical sciences, computer science, or physical sciences) reported teaching in the
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FEMALE ENGINEERING FACULTY AT U.S. INSTITUTIONS: A DATA PROFILE highest proportion (63 percent) and research (7 percent) in the lowest proportion as the primary work activity. Women trained in chemical/mineral engineering were most likely to report research as their primary activity (45 percent) (Table 3-4). Salary 44 percent of FEF were earning salaries greater than $60,000 (Table 3-5). The largest proportion earning more than $80,000 had earned their highest degree in physical sciences (30 percent), while the largest proportion earning $50,000 or less was in mechanical engineering/general engineering (27 percent). Nearly equal proportions of whites and underrepresented minorities were earning more than $60,000 (45 percent and 44 percent, respectively). A smaller proportion of Asians/Pacific Islanders was in this income range (36 percent) (Table 3-6). Academic Productivity As a means of measuring academic productivity, FEF were asked about their publications, presentations, and other projects during a two-year period (1994 and 1995). 47 percent made more than three presentations at conferences during a two-year period. 29 percent made one to three presentations. 38 percent published one or more articles in peer-reviewed journals; 31 percent published more than three articles (Figure 3-2). Job Satisfaction By field of highest degree, physical sciences and other fields showed the highest percentage of some degree of job satisfaction, 76 percent and 74 percent, respectively (Table 3-7). The highest proportion expressing some degree of dissatisfaction were those with a degree in mechanical/general engineering (37 percent) and mathematical sciences/operations research (28 percent). Those aged 40-44 and over 55 reported the highest percentages of some degree of satisfaction. The 55+ age group also included the most FEF working in the physical sciences and other fields (Table 3-8; Table 1-1). Those aged 35-39 and 45-54 reported the highest percentages of some degree of dissatisfaction. Previous Employment Percentages in Table 4-9 and Table 4-10 are based on the 492 women who reported a sector for their previous employment.
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FEMALE ENGINEERING FACULTY AT U.S. INSTITUTIONS: A DATA PROFILE The largest proportion of those who had had a prior engineering position were self-employed or employed by a for-profit business or industry (44 percent). Another 37 percent were formerly in the education sector, but were either at a different institution or held a different position (Table 3-9). By field of highest degree, FEF with degrees in aerospace/industrial engineering and other fields were the most likely to have been previously employed in business/industry (56 percent each). Those with a degree in civil engineering or physical sciences switched from the government sector to academe most frequently (23 percent each). Reasons for Change of Employment FEF gave a wide range of reasons for switching jobs. For analysis purposes, the reasons were grouped into three broad areas: work environment, professional motivation, and family/personal reasons. The subcategories associated with each of these areas are shown in Table 3-10. The reasons related to professional motivation accounted for 59 percent of the job changes, with “opportunities for advancement” being the individual subcategory chosen most frequently. Family/personal reasons and work environment were less important than professional motivation (19 percent and 13 percent, respectively). Influences on the Careers of FEF Female Engineering Faculty (FEF) were asked whether certain aspects of the work environment and certain life cycle events had had an impact on their careers. If a category was not applicable, the respondent was instructed to answer “no impact.” Table 3-11 summarizes the results of these inquiries. “Teaching responsibilities” (62 percent), “opportunity to do research” (63 percent), and “opportunities to attend professional meetings” (70 percent) were most often said to have had a positive impact on the career. “Balancing work and family responsibilities” had the highest proportion of FEF reporting a negative impact (52 percent). FEF were asked to describe, in an open-ended format, what most facilitated their academic careers. Responses were grouped into five major categories for analysis: aspects of the work environment, influences by others, self, education, and prior experience. Aspects of the work environment were cited most frequently (33 percent) followed by influences by others (17 percent) (Table 3-12).
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FEMALE ENGINEERING FACULTY AT U.S. INSTITUTIONS: A DATA PROFILE Areas for Further Inquiry The final question on the Survey of Female Engineering Faculty gave respondents an opportunity to identify areas for additional inquiry (Table 4-1). Over 200 suggestions were offered, covering the following general areas: Personal Background Preparation for Academe Terms of Employment Work Environment Family Status and Responsibilities Job Satisfaction and Factors Affecting Success Non-native U.S. Citizens Topics related to job satisfaction and factors affecting success predominated. Overall job satisfaction was mentioned 18 times and mentoring 19 times. Forty respondents thought more inquiry was needed into other obstacles faced in education and employment; 33 women mentioned the area of family status and responsibilities, especially balancing work responsibilities and personal life. Topics related to faculty members’ terms of employment and work environment were mentioned 28 and 26 times, respectively. TABLE 1-1 Age of Female Engineering Faculty at U.S. Institutions, by Field of Highest Degree Age Total Under 35 35-39 40-44 45-54 55 or Older No Report Field of Highest Degree No. No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % Total 775 124 16 219 28 194 25 156 20 58 7 24 3 Aerospace/Industrial Engineering 52 17 33 20 38 8 15 5 10 1 2 1 2 Chemical/Mineral Engineering 84 13 15 28 33 19 23 18 21 2 2 4 5 Civil Engineering 81 9 11 21 26 36 44 13 16 2 2 0 0 Electrical/Computer Engineering 124 26 21 40 32 27 22 20 16 7 6 4 3 Materials Sci/Plastics/Ceramics Engineering 42 11 26 11 26 12 29 6 14 1 2 1 2 Mechanical/General Engineering 99 17 17 33 33 26 26 16 16 5 5 2 2 Other Engineering 67 13 19 19 28 23 34 10 15 2 3 0 0 Computer Sciences 64 8 13 16 25 12 19 20 31 7 11 1 2 Mathematical Sci/Operations Research 40 6 15 7 18 8 20 12 30 6 15 1 3 Physical Sciences 50 0 0 9 18 12 24 15 30 10 20 4 8 Other Fields 43 3 7 9 21 3 7 16 37 12 28 0 0 No Field Specified 29 1 3 6 21 8 28 5 17 3 10 6 21
Representative terms from entire chapter: