Most geoscientists agree that gender equity is a worthy goal for our field,
but there is disagreement as to how to measure gender equity and what it actually
means. Will the geosciences achieve gender equity when the proportion of women
on our faculty and in professional positions accurately reflects the proportion
in our undergraduate classes? Or is gender equity 50 percent of all positions
in all fields, including undergraduate enrollment? By any of these measures,
we are not yet there. Women earned 40 percent of the undergraduate degrees in
geoscience (geology, oceanography, atmospheric sciences, geophysics) in 2001,
and 38 percent of all the masters degrees both an all-time high.
The proportion of women receiving Ph.D.s and filling professional positions
listed in the American Geological Institutes Directory of Geoscience
Departments, however, is far behind these percentages, indicating some rather
large leaks in the pipeline for women.
Women at Educational and Research Institutions
13.6 percent of all 12,941 entries (exclusive of administrative assistants)
in the 2001 AGI Directory, with about 3 percent of entries of unknown
gender. The proportion of women varies by the type of institution, as shown
here. There is a higher proportion (but a low number) of women in museums (17.5
percent), at bachelors-granting academic institutions (17.4 percent),
and at non-degree-granting institutions (19.5 percent, including community colleges,
non-degree-granting programs in non-geoscience departments, etc.).
Breakdown by gender. [*Excludes Cooperating Faculty, Adjunct, Other, Lecturer, Related, Instructor, Research Associate, and Senior Scientist.] Courtesy of the authors.
However, when positions such as cooperating faculty, adjunct professor, lecturer and research associate are omitted, the proportion of women at every type of institution drops, reflecting the relative concentration of women in non-tenure track positions. These proportions have not changed significantly from data compiled by Dr. Lois Ongley four years ago (from the 1996-1997 AGI Directory). More than half, 51 percent, of all tenure-track positions at academic institutions in the United States are held by men in full professor and/or chair/head positions.
One possible cause for women holding so many cooperating and other positions at state surveys and museums is that many women at these institutions do not have a Ph.D. degree. At museums, 43 percent of women (in all positions) have a Ph.D. degree, while 83 percent of the men have a Ph.D. degree. Nearly one-third of men working at state surveys hold a Ph.D. degree, while only 9 percent of women do. Twenty-one percent of men working at state surveys have a bachelors degree; 38 percent of women working at state surveys have a bachelors degree. Fifty-three percent of women and 59 percent of men at Ph.D.-degree-granting institutions have tenure-track positions. A higher proportion of women work in non-tenure leading positions than in tenure-track positions.
Persons at Degree-Granting Institutions
At degree-granting institutions, the proportion of women in faculty positions varies by rank. Most women are in assistant professor positions (39 percent), and next associate professor positions (31 percent). There is a slightly higher proportion of women in administrative positions than in full professor positions (7.8 percent). Almost 60 percent of men are in full professor or chair/head positions. Only 30 women professors in the geosciences in the United States have emeritus status, while 1062 males hold emeritus status.