Women Faring Well in Hiring and Tenure Processes for Science and Engineering Jobs at Research Universities, But Still Underrepresented in Applicant Pools
National Academy of Sciences (06/02/09) Frueh, Sara; Yeibio, Luwam
Women are still underrepresented in the applicant pool for faculty positions in math, science, and engineering at major research institutions, but those who do apply are interviewed and hired at rates equal to or higher than those for men, concludes a new National Research Council report. The study also found that although women are underrepresented among those considered for tenure, those who are considered get tenure at the same or higher rates than men. Females who applied for tenure-track positions in each of six disciplines--biology, chemistry, mathematics, civil engineering, electrical engineering, and physics--had better odds of being interviewed and receiving job offers than males. But the report sees a gap between the rate of women applying for tenure-track jobs at research-intensive universities and the rate of women earning Ph.D.s, and this gap is widest in disciplines with larger portions of women receiving Ph.D.s. "Our data suggest that, on average, institutions have become more effective in using the means under their direct control to promote faculty diversity, including hiring and promoting women and providing resources," notes Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Claude Canizares. "Nevertheless, we also find evidence for stubborn and persistent underrepresentation of women at all faculty ranks." Further research on unresolved issues, such as why more women are not applying for tenure-track positions, why female faculty continue to experience a sense of isolation, and how nonacademic issues impact women's and men's career choices at critical points, has been urged by the study committee. "Overall the newly released data indicate important progress, and signal to both young men and especially to young women that what had been the status quo at research-intensive universities is changing," says Yale University School of Medicine professor and committee co-chair Sally Shaywitz.