“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,” said committee co-chair Sally Shaywitz, Audrey G. Ratner Professor in Learning Development and co-director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity at the Yale University School of Medicine.

In terms of access to institutional resources, men and women reported comparable access, including start-up packages, travel funds, and supervision of similar numbers of post-docs and research assistants. And in general, men and women spent similar proportions of their time on teaching, research, and service. Although at first glance men seemed to have more lab space than women, this difference disappeared when other factors such as discipline and faculty rank were accounted for.

However, men appeared to have greater access to equipment needed for research and to clerical support, the report said.

In every field, women were underrepresented among candidates for tenure relative to the number of female assistant professors. In chemistry, for example, women made up 22 percent of assistant professors, but only 15 percent of the faculty being considered for tenure. Women also spent significantly longer time as assistant professors. However, women who did come up for tenure review were at least as likely as men to receive tenure.

Full-time female professors earned on average 8 percent less than their male counterparts, the report says. This difference in salary did not exist in the ranks of associate and assistant professors.

On most key measures–grant funding, nominations for awards and honors, and offers of positions at other institutions–there is little evidence of differences in outcomes. In terms of funding for research, male faculty had significantly more funding than female faculty in biology; in other disciplines, the differences were not significant.

The committee urged further research on unanswered questions, 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 affect women’s and men’s career choices at critical junctures.

“There is a movement toward more gender equity than noted in previous reports or often publicly appreciated. At the same time, the findings show that we are not there yet. The gap between female graduates and the pool of female applicants is very real and suggests that focus next be placed on examining challenges such as family and child responsibilities, which typically impact women more than men,” Shaywitz said.


Copies of “Gender Differences at Critical Transitions in the Careers of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Faculty”

National Academy of Sciences

National Research Council