2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 2:30 PM


HOLMES, Mary Anne, Geosciences, Univ of Nebraska-Lincoln, 214 Bessey Hall, Lincoln, NE 68588-0340, O'CONNELL, Suzanne, E&ES, Wesleyan Univ, 265 Church St, Middletown, CT 06459, FREY, Connie, Bureau of Sociological Research, Univ of Nebraska-Lincoln, 730 Oldfather Hall, Lincoln, NE 68588-0340 and ONGLEY, Lois, 221 Pease Hill Rd, Monmouth, ME 04259, mholmes2@unl.edu

The proportion of women receiving bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees has been steadily increasing for the last ten years. Women comprise nearly 40% of the bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and nearly 30% of the doctorates in the geosciences. When doctorate degrees are lagged relative to bachelor’s degrees, there is only a small loss of women through the educational pipeline. However, there is a significant loss of women between the doctorate degree and assistant professor positions. The proportion of women occupying assistant professor positions at PhD-granting institutions has not increased since 1995-96 (our oldest data). Once inside academia, there is no significant difference in years-to-tenure between male and female geoscientists. Geoscientists’ perceptions of the status of women in our field vary by gender, according to results of focus groups of geoscientists held during the winter of 2003. More men cite “the pipeline” as the cause of the low proportion of women in geoscience academia. More women cite “family issues”, including their role as a trailing spouse, motherhood and elder care. Males also see “lack of female mentors” as an issue for women, while women cite “climate issues” as a barrier to their advancement. “Climate issues” include different expectations because of gender (who can and cannot do strenuous field work), lack of encouragement or active discouragement, lack of role models, communication problems with advisors, inappropriate comments from professors and sexual harassment. While only one-third of males had ever considered leaving the geosciences, one-half of females had, including after tenure. Male’s reasons for considering leaving our profession center on financial issues, while female’s reasons center on family issues and, as graduate students, difficulties with the graduate advisor. “Where are the Women Geoscience Professors?” workshop compiled a list of “Best Practices” departments can adopt to attract and retain females on their faculty. We are currently polling departments to learn which ones use such practices.