Research Spotlight: Probing the gender gap in science

Standing out from the crowdAccording to the National Research Council (2006), women earned 44.7 percent of the doctorates awarded in the biological sciences between 1993 and 2004, yet comprised only 30.2 percent of the assistant professors at the top 50 U.S. universities. In physics, the gap is far wider. Anne Lincoln, assistant professor of sociology in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanity and Sciences, researches the reasons for the gender disparities.

Last September Lincoln received a 3-year grant from the National Science Foundation’s Research on Gender in Science and Engineering program to examine women’s and men’s reasons for pursuing academic science careers as well as their perceptions about women’s contributions to academic science. Lincoln and a team of four sociology undergraduate students are nearing the completion of the sampling database – a list of all faculty and graduates students at top-20 biology and physics graduate departments in the United States – and will randomly select 2,500 of them to participate in an Internet-based survey. A subsample of about 150 respondents will later be selected for more in-depth interviews, which will take place in 2009.

Read more from the SMU Research magazine.