This chapter examines the participation and employment characteristics of women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in the science and engineering labor force in 1995. Representation is examined, in most cases, in terms of age, field of employment, and highest degree level. These factors influence employment patterns; to the extent that men and women, minorities and nonminorities, and persons with and without disabilities differ on these factors, their employment patterns are likely to differ as well.
Within the science and engineering labor force, the age distributions of women compared to men, and of minorities compared to the majority, are quite different. Because large numbers of women and minorities have entered science and engineering fields only relatively recently, women and minority men are generally younger and have fewer years of experience. Age or stage in career is an influence on such employment-related factors as salary, rank, tenure, and work activity. Employment patterns also vary by field, and these field differences may influence employment in science and engineering jobs, unemployment, salaries, and work activities. Highest degree earned is also an important influence on employment, particularly on primary work activity and salary.