Women in Academia

<p>"Forty years ago, women made up only 3 percent of America's scientific and technical workers, but by 2003 they accounted for nearly one-fifth. In addition, women have earned more than half of the bachelor's degrees awarded in science and engineering since 2000. However, their representation on university and college faculties fails to reflect these gains. Among science and engineering Ph.D.s, four times more men than women hold full-time faculty positions. And minority women with doctorates are less likely than white women or men of any racial or ethnic group to be in tenure positions. Previous studies of female faculty have shed light on common characteristics of their workplace environments. In one survey of 1,000 university faculty members, for example, women were more likely than men to feel that colleagues devalued their research, that they had fewer opportunities to participate in collaborative projects, and that they were constantly under a microscope. In another study, exit interviews of female faculty who "voluntarily" left a large university indicated that one of their main reasons for leaving was colleagues' lack of respect for them."
<a href="http://tinyurl.com/povz5%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://tinyurl.com/povz5&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Interesting findings but are they offering realistic solutions or just the response you would expect from the education bureaucracy?
"University leaders should incorporate the goal of counteracting bias...".<br>
"...publicize progress toward goals."
"... discuss the formation of the proposed monitoring body..."<br>
"...mandatory national meetings to educate university department chairs, agency program officers, and members of review panels..."
"Federal enforcement agencies...should provide technical assistance to help universities achieve diversity in their programs and employment, and encourage them to meet such goals. These agencies also should regularly conduct compliance reviews at higher education institutions...Discrimination complaints should be promptly and thoroughly investigated."</p>

<p>Eeewwww. Not a fan of those "solutions." How about these:</p>

<p>1) Do not penalize mothers for taking time off; do not penalize part-time workers - make tenure decisions in time frames that adjust for this. (The Army does something similar.) For example, if a woman takes two six-month maternity leaves, then her tenure review should be moved back a year. If tenure review normally takes place after, say, ten years, it could be extended to thirteen years for those who do part-time work.<br>
2) Equal space and resources. The MIT women who measured their lab space, certain that they were being shortchanged, are an example to follow.
3) Mentoring from the top down; collaboration from the bottom up. Assign mentors to incoming junior faculty; structure class loads and research so younger faculty (where there are more women) are forced to work together.
4) Remove gender from all evaluations for faculty (have "she" redacted and changed to "he" or "he/she" so that all recommendations read the same; remove names from resumes). Studies show that more women would be hired on in the first place.
5) Tell the "Good Ole Boys," straight-up, that their antics are not tolerated. The university should state that hostility towards talented candidates costs the university money and drives away the best of the talent - undermining the mission of the university to satisfy fragile testosterone egos just isn't on the agenda.<br>
6) Acknowledge the fundamental, non-research roles that professors play - i.e. being teachers to their students. In tenure decisions, give more weight to teaching ability, willingness to meet with students outside of class, writing of recommendations, and giving career guidance.</p>

<p>This article failed to provide any useful information. There is a statement that more than half of the recent bachelors degrees have gone to women, but only a fourth of the Ph.D. faculty positions are held by women. This seems like an attempt to distort the facts. In order to assess gender discrimination, we would we need to know the percentage of women who have Ph.D.'s in the sciences. Considering that it takes many years of experience to gain a faculty position, we would really need to know the percentage of women who earned Ph.D's 5 or 10 years ago and compare that with the 1/4th faculty employment rate.</p>

<p>The data in this article is incorrect. I checked tables at nsf.gov and found that as of 2001, woman held 35% of Ph.D. science and engineering faculty positions at 4 yr colleges and universities. Doctoral S&E award rates for woman have increased from about 1/3 10 years ago to 38% as of 2 years ago. The nsf tables also indicate that woman are much more likely to drop out of the workforce due to family concerns or because they do not need to work. I am sure there are still plenty of cases of gender discrimination but that is not reflected by faculty employment rates. I think the fate of Harvard's past president indicates an appropriate attitude towards discrimination against woman scientists. I have a daughter going into the sciences and am happy to see that she will have opportunities to succeed based on her interests and abilities.</p>


<p>I just looked at those tables, too, and the 20% number seems right to me: Roughly 50,000 women out of 250,000 total employed in "S&E Positions" at 4-year colleges and universities. And that number is somewhat deceptive -- if you knock out psychologists (a field that seems to be majority women) and social scientists, the percentage of women would drop. </p>

<p>Two things are pretty obvious, though, at least to me:</p>

<p>(1) It is ridiculous to say something like "Half of the science PhDs since 2000 are women, but only 20% of the faculty." Since most of the faculty got their doctorates decades ago, there would be a significant lag between the time the degree-reception rate was 50% and the time the faculty rate is 50%.</p>

<p>(2) I know this from the trenches of my own profession and from the lives of everyone around me: Childbearing and, much more importantly, child rearing are still significant impediments to the professional advancement of women. No one has "solved" this problem, although the big-business corporate sector does a pretty good job of exploiting it (i.e., hiring highly qualified women in flex-time positions with good benefits). </p>

<p>It isn't just a question of giving women two six-month maternity leaves and an extra year before tenure review. If that doesn't happen, it should, but I bet it does happen formally or informally in most of the world. Women drop out of the prestige race when the contradictions and guilt of trying to raise children overwhelm them. The "mommy track" is a 10-15 year proposition in the lives of many women, and very few men. It takes a lot of luck and resources to have children and to avoid it. That is going to keep suppressing to some extent the number of women in high-visibility positions (e.g., tenured faculty at top institutions) unless the very nature of those positions and their duties and qualifications are redefined. (But even if that were to occur, the people -- more men than women -- with fewer conflicting duties would wind up with more external success.)</p>

<p>I'm not defending the status quo, or arguing that women are inferior. I am just noticing that there is a real issue out there that hasn't been solved by tinkering with the rules, and won't be. Brilliant, qualified women make mommy-track choices. I don't see that changing much in the current generation.</p>

<p>The 2001 numbers were 69k females and 175k males. That is 28%. I looked again for the 2004/5 numbers but I could not find them again. There are so many tables I just don't have time to try again. There might also be a gender difference between full time and part time faculty positions. It might be expected that many of the newer graduates are part time. There has been a disturbing gender difference in the time needed to achieve full professorship. For men, about 50% are promoted after 16 years of postdoc experience. For women, the 50% number is at about 19 years. <a href="http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/wmpd/figh-5.htm%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/wmpd/figh-5.htm&lt;/a>
This might indicate some past biases or might be related to women dropping out to raise families. Science changes so quickly that it is pretty difficult to recover after being out of the field for months or years.</p>

<p>The data to look at is the time from completion of Ph.D. dissertation to tenure. The AAUP rules call for full-time profs to be promoted to tenure (either at the associate level, as in most cases, or at full professore leve as in the case of Harvard and Yale) after 8 years. If the prof is not granted tenure, the prof is not continued in the position and must seek employment elsewhere. This means that the relevant Ph.D. figures would come from 8 years ago, i.e. 1998 or thereabout.</p>

<p>I believe that most math/science Ph.D.s take about 5-6 years to complete. A woman who achieved tenure in these fields would be in her late 30s.</p>

<p>One of the things they've noticed at my d's (all-women's) school is that women often develop an interest in science (and are more likely to overcome math phobias) late in their college careers. Some of it is simply the lack of appropriate role models (overwhelming number of high school science and math teachers who are male). Some of it is just early bad experiences that have never been overcome. But some of it is also inflexibility within the colleges themselves - a junior who finally develops a passion for science and math has more hurdles to overcome. </p>

<p>Smith has just started a program in math (not just for Smith students) for such students, and many of the women's colleges have developed the med-school 5th year option (which apparently is overwhelmingly female.)</p>

<p>Just more to add to the hooper.</p>

<p><a href="http://www.smith.edu/newsoffice/releases/06-014.html%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.smith.edu/newsoffice/releases/06-014.html&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>I could not find that data. As we know, many male and female faculty members do not achieve tenure within 8 years. It is common for U's to hire several assistant professors with the plan over turning over most or all of them.</p>

<p>It did find an interesting table: <a href="http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf06320/pdf/tab22.pdf%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf06320/pdf/tab22.pdf&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Women comprise 24% of doctoral faculty with over 10 years of experience and also comprise 20% of the tenured faculty for that group. For faculty with less than 10 years, women comprise 40% and have a 32% of the tenured positions. Maybe women appear to be a bit behind in achieving tenure, but this numbers could be misleading. Women have been coming into the sciences with rapidly increasing numbers and for any experience bracket women will have less experience on average than men.</p>

<p>Edad: You looked at "all occupations"; I looked at "science and engineering occupations". If you look at people with a title that has "professor" in it, 25% of the full/associate/assistant professors w/ science PhDs were women, but only 20% of the professors in science & engineering fields were women (and less than that if you exclude social sciences).</p>

<p>So, you are correct that the following statement quoted by the OP is wrong: "Among science and engineering Ph.D.s, four times more men than women hold full-time faculty positions." I think that should be "three times" (the closest measure of "full-time faculty positions" seems to be 75% male and 25% female). But you are way off base in your statement that "as of 2001, woman held 35% of Ph.D. science and engineering faculty positions at 4 yr colleges and universities." That number is 20%, whether you look at all positions in S&E fields, or just traditional faculty.</p>

<p>Mini, whether male or female, it is difficult to graduate in the sciences without starting as a freshman and taking the relevant math and introductory sciences courses. It is a lot easier to dither in the humanities and then finally pick a major. Fortunately, I think old stereotypes are breaking down and more girls are becoming interested in the sciences at an early age.</p>

<p>It is difficult, which is why it is rather exciting that new options are being created.</p>

<p>There is a great chart somewhere on that NSF site that shows the percentage of tenured faculty in a cohort for each year since degree, starting a 7 years and going out to 28 years. Men and women are tenured in equal proportions at the lower end, and they are not so different at the upper end, but in the 13-25 years-since-degree range women lag significantly. </p>

<p>Of course, the table may be somewhat misleading, if only because the absolute numbers of women with science PhDs obtained before 1943 (28 years before the data) has to be pretty small, and in any event had careers that were likely very different from women my age (who would have been, say, 15-18 years from degree in 2001) or women getting their degrees now.</p>

<p>EDIT: Here it is -- <a href="http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/wmpd/figh-5.htm"&gt;http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/wmpd/figh-5.htm&lt;/a> </p>

<p>I've noticed a number of programs to encourage and mentor young women in math and science. One I can vouch for is SEARCH, the summer math program for talented HS girls at Mt. Holyoke ( <a href="http://www.mtholyoke.edu/proj/search/%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.mtholyoke.edu/proj/search/&lt;/a> ). The program is playful, not extremely demanding, but exposes the girls to successful women in math professions. It's co-taught by a couple with background in math and psych, with grad assistants (all women of course) helping in the dorm. The program offers scholarships and treasures diversity.</p>

<p><a href="http://www.smith.edu/summerprograms/ssep/%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.smith.edu/summerprograms/ssep/&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Perhaps more interesting is the "science boot camp" for professionals - two semesters of microbiology in two weeks:</p>

<p><a href="http://www.smith.edu/newsoffice/releases/02-095.html%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.smith.edu/newsoffice/releases/02-095.html&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>mini, I'm sure the Smith programs are stellar -- do you have personal experience?</p>