Click for next page ( 6


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 5
1 Introduction M any studies have found evidence of gender disparities in U.S. academia and have raised serious concerns about the ability of U.S. universities to recruit and retain women faculty and stu- dents in science and engineering (S&E), now and in the future. Women students and faculty face challenges in academia. Overall, one challenge facing most women is campus climate. At times, female students, faculty, and administrators may run into un- friendly, if not hostile, behavior from peers, colleagues, and superiors. Power relationships are magnified in the insulated and small setting of academia. Students are dependent on faculty (and access to faculty and their labs) to accomplish their research, for recommendations, and for entre into the professional community. Faculty are dependent on peers during tenure and promotion cases. In addition to an unfriendly climate, female students face challenges related to recruitment and retention. Much has been written about the difficulties encountered by universities in trying to encourage female sec- ondary school students to enter university S&E programs. Likewise, con- cerns have been raised about the preparation that female students receive prior to postsecondary education. This guide will describe efforts by some universities both to increase the recruitment of female students by reach- ing down into secondary schools through various programs and to de- crease the attrition of female students from S&E programs once they are enrolled. Female faculty face a variety of different challenges. Percentage of 5

OCR for page 5
6 TO RECRUIT AND ADVANCE WOMEN STUDENTS AND FACULTY women faculty members in science and engineering disciplines range from 10 to 30 percent (NSF, 2001). Women accounted for 10 percent of all faculty in physics in 2002, 14 percent of all faculty in astronomy in 2003, 18 percent of full-time faculty members at doctoral departments in math- ematics in 2002, and 10 percent of tenured or tenure-track faculty mem- bers in engineering in 2003 (Gibbons, 2004; Ivie, 2004; Rankin, 2004). The underrepresentation of women is the most pronounced at the most pres- tigious research universities (NRC, 2001). Women science faculty are more likely to be employed by community colleges or institutions that do not offer a doctoral degree (Schneider, 2000). Women faculty are less likely than male faculty to be full professors. As the National Science Foundation (NSF, 2004c) noted in its biennial publication Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering: 2004, "Within 4-year colleges and universities, females are less likely than their male colleagues to be found in the highest faculty ranks. Women were less likely than men to be full professors and more likely than men to be assistant professors" (NSF, 2005). A survey of the top 50 university departments in several fields found smaller percentages of women at each successive rung of the professorial ladder from assis- tant to associate to full professor in every field but one (Nelson and Rogers, 2004).1 In civil engineering in 2002, women accounted for 22.3 percent of assistant professors, 11.5 percent of associate professors, and 3.5 percent of full professors. Women faculty receive lower salaries than their male counterparts.2 According to a survey of the American Association of University Profes- sors (AAUP), women's salaries for the academic year 2002-2003 remained behind men's salaries in every category (Fogg, 2003b).3 Studies of salaries of science and engineering faculty find similar gaps (NRC, 2001; Ginther, 2001, 2004). Another inequality is that women faculty spend more hours per week than men in the classroom, more time preparing for classes and advising students, and more time engaged in university service activities. "In sum, though all university faculty are expected to teach and to serve, as well as to research, male and female faculty exhibit significantly different pat- terns of research, teaching, and service. Men, as a group, devote a higher 1The exception was computer science; 10.8 percent of assistant professors, 14.4 percent of associate professors, and 8.3 percent of full professors were women. 2The current debate on gender inequality in salaries centers on how large the gap is and the reasons for it. See, for example, Ginther (2004). 3Perna's analysis suggests that women faculty are also less likely to receive supplemental earnings, such as from institutional sources or private consulting (Perna, 2002).

OCR for page 5
INTRODUCTION 7 portion of their time to research activities, whereas women, as a group, devote a much higher percentage of their time to teaching and service activities than do men" (Park, 1996:54; also see Fogg, 2003a). There is some evidence that women are less satisfied in the academic workplace than men and are more likely to leave academia in the first seven years (Trower and Chait, 2002). Lower satisfaction may lead to unhappiness in the profession, leading to lower productivity, lower retention rates, and a reduced pool of future academics. Such unhappiness may be transmitted to the younger women just starting out and help to "scare a new genera- tion away from academia" (Lawler, 1999). Finally, women faculty have higher attrition rates than men both before and after tenure (August and Waltman, 2004). Although the percentages of female administrators are low, the good news is that today women are occupying a much larger percentage of presidencies at colleges and universities than previously. In 2001, 27 per- cent of presidencies at two-year institutions were held by women, com- pared with 8 percent in 1986. In doctorate-granting institutions, women held 12 percent of presidencies in 2001, three times the percentage in 1986 (Rivard, 2003). These institutions include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, Brown University, and the University of California, San Diego. It is also more common to see female deans and provosts. Although some observers expect these percentages to rise, such an increase is not guaranteed; uni- versity policies can affect the likelihood that more women move into top administrative positions (Lively, 2000a). The rest of this chapter describes common threads that run through both the literature review and the site visits. It then presents the research questions tackled by the study committee and the methodology used, and concludes with a brief description of the organization of this guide. COMMON THREADS Three common threads appeared to wind their way through the lit- erature on women in science and engineering and the site visits made by the study committee. The first is that at each successive step, from under- graduate matriculation through a doctoral program and into an academic career, the number of women decline, thereby reinforcing a pattern of underrepresentation of women in academia. Nationally, in most fields of physical science the percentages of women dwindle as women move higher in standing. In the natural sciences, the percentage of women drops from 40 percent for undergraduates to 30 percent for Ph.D.'s to about 15 percent for professorial faculty. Similarly, the percentage of female ten- ured and tenure-track faculty in S&E fields declines from 34 percent for

OCR for page 5
8 TO RECRUIT AND ADVANCE WOMEN STUDENTS AND FACULTY assistant professors to 27 percent for associate professors to about 13 per- cent for full professors. A second common thread is that the "climate" of departments, and to a lesser extent of institutions, is chilly to women. A substantial portion of the literature--including universities' own self-assessments--bear out this point. Climate is a complex phenomenon that affects how members of a department, including students, get along with one another. The third common thread is that the success of efforts to recruit and advance women in science and engi- neering depend largely on whether uni- Promoting diversity takes versity leaders and administrators pro- leadership. It has to be an mote the institutionalization of change, intentional effort; you can't not quick fixes, and on rapid implemen- just set the stage and back tation. It is easy to take ad hoc steps to away. try to deal with issues affecting a par- --University dean, ticular student, faculty member, or ad- during site visit ministrator. There may also be a temp- tation to "throw money at a problem" or set up a study committee. Such steps can produce improvements, but with- out support from the top levels of an institution, problems may persist. Those interviewed at the universities visited identified three chal- lenges to making change endure. First, those at the highest university levels--president, provost, and deans--must be convinced to take change seriously and give it high priority and high visibility. Second, change must be institutionalized as opposed to a quick fix. An associate dean described an experiment in hiring more women by providing an open hiring fund. He found that all the money went quickly but produced few lasting results. Because the slots were viewed as "free," the departments did not make a strong effort to hire people who truly fit into their pro- grams and had a good chance of success. Third, university bureaucracies must be convinced to move faster in implementing changes and hiring. Another dean, who came from industry, noted how difficult it is to act quickly at a university, "When I'm the president of a company and I find someone I want, I can hire her on the spot. Here the dean can say no, but he can't hire anybody. I have to convince the faculty that they want this person." KEY RESEARCH QUESTIONS In discussing the challenges faced by universities and academicians when trying to increase the percentages of women in science and engi- neering, members of the Committee on Women in Science and Engineer-

OCR for page 5
INTRODUCTION 9 ing (CWSE) of the National Academies noted that some institutions seemed to attract significant percentages of women to their degree pro- grams and as faculty. These institutions did not appear to be remarkably different from their peers on the surfacethey were all research universi- ties that had stellar reputations in academic circles. Two questions fol- lowed from this observation: 1. What are the more diverse institutions doing differently from their peers, which have seen smaller increases in the numbers and percentages of women? 2. What is involved in the creation of diversity-building initiatives? From these two questions the concept for this project was developed. THE COMMITTEE'S CHARGE The Committee on Women in Science and Engineering of the Na- tional Academies sought to move beyond simply cataloguing the chal- lenges facing the advancement of women in academic S&E. It wanted to provide a guide that would describe many of the policy responses actu- ally implemented by universities in seeking to improve the situation for women--that is, policy responses that could be used as guidelines by other universities and colleges and applied as appropriate. The study committee was directed in its effort by the following charge from CWSE: This project will prepare a guide that will identify and discuss best prac- tices in recruitment, retention, and promotion for women scientists and engineers in academia. The issues that the guide will address are: (1) recruitment of undergraduates and graduate students; (2) ways of re- ducing attrition in science and engineering degree programs in the early undergraduate years; (3) improving retention rates of women at critical transition points--from undergraduate to graduate student, from grad- uate student to postdoc, postdoc to first faculty position; (4) recruitment of women for tenure-track positions; (5) increasing the tenure rate for women faculty; and (6) increasing the numbers of women in administra- tive positions. METHODOLOGY To craft this guide, the study committee chose two primary informa- tion-gathering activities: a review of the existing literature on programs and policies designed to enhance female participation in S&E and site visits to four universities that had implemented successful approaches to advancing and retaining women students, faculty, or leadership as

OCR for page 5
10 TO RECRUIT AND ADVANCE WOMEN STUDENTS AND FACULTY gauged by numbers of students and/or faculty. The goals of the site visits were to identify programs self-reported to be successful; to identify any original programs not already described in the literature; to observe programs in the context of a pathway analysis. (The committee approached the subject of recruiting and retaining women as a pathway that begins with postsecondary education and proceeds through graduate school, postdoctoral status, and into academic careers. Rather than focus on one level, the committee examined the vertical pathway by meeting with students, faculty, and administrators across the levels.); to add to current knowledge about programs to assist women; and to put a human face on the programs. Equally important is what the study committee did not do. It did not review all programs at higher education institutions. Rather, the four research-intensive institutions--two public and two private--chosen for site visits had successfully advanced gender issues on their campuses (see the brief descriptions of these reputations in the next section). The committee members who participated in the site visits paid particular attention to the engineering programs at two of the universities, the com- puter science program at one university, and the life sciences programs at the fourth. Each of these institutions reported success in recruiting or retaining female students or faculty in S&E in the 1990s and during the time the committee selected the cases for study. This progress was evi- dent in gender-related reports released by the universities, in the public press coverage of the policies and practices instituted by university ad- ministrators, and in the published statistics denoting increases in per- centages of female students and faculty. On three other dimensions, institutions were chosen with variation in mind. First, both private and public institutions were included. Public and private universities are constrained differently by state policies. For example, because of legal rulings many state universities no longer have targeted admissions strategies or offer race-specific scholarships. In re- sponse, some institutions have creatively increased the pool of candidates from which to admit students or have implemented programs designed to encourage attendance by women. Second, both small and large institutions were chosen. The particular characteristics of a large versus a small department or school might play a role in the kinds of procedures or programs adopted. One university was classified as "large," having over 25,000 students. A second university was classified as "medium," with between 10,000 and 25,000 students.

OCR for page 5
INTRODUCTION 11 The remaining two universities were "small," both with less than 10,000 students. Third, universities were selected from different regions of the United States: two from the Midwest, one from the South, and one from the Northeast. Scholars have suggested that the location of an institution plays a role in the decisions of prospective faculty (Trower and Chait, 2002) and that geography plays an important role for women (Kulis and Sicotte, 2002). Institutions located in large metropolitan areas may not have to offer special incentives such as a spousal hiring program aimed at attract- ing the best faculty, whereas geographically isolated institutions that serve as a region's major employer might have to consider spousal employment for every faculty position search. At the four institutions visited, the committee members met sepa- rately with department chairs, deans, top-level administrators (i.e., pro- vost, chancellor, or president), women faculty, undergraduates, and graduate students. Although postdoctoral students were not the focus of these meetings--the National Academies' Committee on Science, Engi- neering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) had recently completed a similar study specifically about those students (COSEPUP, 2000)--some discus- sion of postdocs was included in site visits. The goal of these meetings was to identify the range of policy responses adopted by these institu- tions that likely resulted in their general success in attracting and retain- ing women. Interviewees commented on various issues related to the recruitment and retention of women. The issues, for the most part, were those at the heart of the challenges to the universities that had necessi- tated their policy responses. Several committee members went on each one-day site visit, which was divided into various meetings. Prior to the site visits, the committee agreed on the appropriate questions and topics to be discussed during the visits, and then sent the topics to each university before the visit itself. At the meetings, interviewees were encouraged both to discuss the themes and to bring up additional themes they felt were important. A consultant engaged by the committee took notes. ADVANCING WOMEN: A SNAPSHOT OF THE FOUR INSTITUTIONS All the universities visited have been able to increase their percent- ages of female students and faculty. The perception of administration officials is that the climate affecting the recruitment, retention, and ad- vancement of women has improved as well. For example, among faculty at one university the progress had been rapid; women were holding more endowed chairs and full professorships. One-third of deans were women,

OCR for page 5
12 TO RECRUIT AND ADVANCE WOMEN STUDENTS AND FACULTY which strengthened the female presence in promotion and tenure deci- sions. Over a decade one department added over 10 women faculty. In another department over half of the faculty members hired in the late 1990s were women. Finally, the computer science department of one of the institutions had the highest percentage of women faculty of any col- lege or department of computing in the country. Likewise, at another university, admissions statistics indicated that over the period that the computer science department began its efforts to recruit women students, the number of both male and female applicants to the undergraduate program rose steadily and a significantly higher proportion of women applicants were accepted each year. In addition, according to the office of admissions, standardized scores remained high (in 2001 the average math SAT I score for entering students was 760), and measures of outside achievement and personal attributes were at an all- time high. Additional improvements were found in student retention. In 2000 there was "zero attrition" among women students between the freshman and sophomore years--traditionally a high dropout period. A dean at- tributed this situation in part to multiple entry points to computer pro- gramming and in part to attentive mentoring. Some interviewees sug- gested that an additional benefit was that the more diverse environment led to an improvement in pedagogy. Perhaps most important, according to a female dean, although the percentages have not changed much for graduate students and faculty, the culture has changed: "The undergradu- ates in computer science have energy and enthusiasm. The graduate women are part of that. There is a critical mass we've never seen before, and activism." The universities visited also experienced positive changes in hiring practices. At one school, a dean put new search committee rules into effect to attract more women. At the time, the engineering school had five women faculty; in less than a decade that figure had quadrupled. The university's engineering school now has one of the highest percentages (over 10 percent) of women faculty among the major engineering schools. This particular engineering school has also succeeded on several other fronts. During the 1990s the proportion of women in the engineering school earning Ph.D.'s grew from about 10 percent to almost 30 percent-- the second highest among major engineering schools. Of the women earn- ing engineering Ph.D.'s over a six-year period in the mid-1990s, 22 per- cent took faculty positions. Of minorities earning Ph.D.'s, 40 percent took faculty positions. Related to this result, this school of engineering has the third highest percentage of African American students among its peer institutions (nearly 9 percent) and one of the highest graduation rates (90 percent) of all engineering schools. Finally, overall at this institution the

OCR for page 5
INTRODUCTION 13 net retention rate for undergraduate women in the engineering program was about 100 percent--that is, women who drop out of the program tend to be replaced by transfers from other departments. By way of an explanation, officials pointed to this institution's en- trance standards, which are high for all applicants, and its strong support system. The increase in the percentages of women and minorities at this institution occurred at the same time that its engineering school was im- proving its recruitment and retention percentages. The school's overall rank among all U.S. engineering schools in the U.S. News and World Report rankings rose from below 35th in 1990 to the top 15 in 1998. Three of the school's engineering programs were ranked among the top five nation- ally, and five were ranked among the top 10. All four of the institutions visited were major research universities. Research universities train most of the country's Ph.D.'s and perform a disproportionate amount of funded research. What happens to women in these institutions and what changes can be made to advance the careers of women while the universities simultaneously pursue their research mis- sions can serve as a model for a range of higher education institutions. In addition, because women make up the smallest proportion of the science and engineering faculty in research universities, the methods used by successful institutions can indicate avenues for change in those organiza- tional settings where it is needed most. ORGANIZATION OF THE GUIDE The guide is divided into seven chapters. Chapter 2 looks closely at the recruitment of women--of secondary students for postsecondary study in S&E, of undergraduates for graduate programs in S&E, and of postdoctorates for faculty positions. This chapter corresponds to the first, third, and fourth issues detailed in the study committee's charge. Chapter 3 examines the retention of female undergraduate and graduate students. It corresponds to the second and third issues in the charge. Chapter 4, which looks at ways to enhance the hiring of female faculty for assistant professor positions, takes up the third and fourth issues in the charge. Chapter 5 focuses on retaining female faculty--the fifth charge issue. And Chapter 6 examines efforts to increase the number of women in adminis- trative positions--the final issue. The concluding chapter summarizes the main strategies. Chapters 2-6 begin with a discussion of the challenges and obstacles facing women at specific stages of the higher education pathway. These chapters then examine the strategies undertaken by the four universities visited, as well as by other institutions, to remedy those challenges and overcome obstacles. Each chapter concludes with a "to do" list for faculty and administrators.