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Gender gap at top U.S. universities for women scientists

Lincoln2.jpgAccording to the National Research Council in 2006, women earned 44.7 percent of the doctorates awarded in the biological sciences between 1993 and 2004. Yet women 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, is researching the reasons for the gender disparities.

In September Lincoln received a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation’s Research on Gender in Science and Engineering program.

Lincoln will 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. They have been preparing a list of all faculty and graduates students at top-20 biology and physics graduate departments in the United States. From that they will randomly select 2,500 to participate in an Internet-based survey.

ecklund.jpgA subsample of about 150 respondents will later be selected for more in-depth interviews, which will take place in 2009.

“In 2010, we will be wrapping up the study and mostly running analyses on the data,” she says.

Lincoln’s co-investigator is Elaine Howard Ecklund of Rice University.

In addition to expanding recent scholarly findings related to the role perceptions have in the decision to pursue a career in academic science, Lincoln’s research is expected to provide the “necessary research underpinnings to build university policies and practices that encourage women’s interest in science majors and careers.”

Related links:
Anne Lincoln
Elaine Howard Ecklund
SMU Department of Sociology
National Research Council
Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences