Male and female high school graduates were also similar in science course taking in 1994. Female students were slightly more likely than males to have taken biology and chemistry, and males were slightly more likely than females to have taken physics: most students, more than 90 percent, had taken biology, slightly more than half had taken chemistry, and about one-fourth had taken physics. A larger proportion of both male and female high school students in 1994 took biology, chemistry, and physics than did 1982 graduates.
Results of the 1996 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mathematics assessment showed that the gender gap in mathematics achievement has, for the most part, disappeared. Previous NAEP mathematics assessments showed that males scored higher than females in grade 12, but in 1996, average mathematics scores for males and females in 8th and 12th grade were not significantly different. Among 4th graders, the average mathematics score for male students was slightly higher than that of female students.
Women received a minority of science and engineering doctorates in all fields except psychology. The proportion of women receiving the doctorate in psychology rose from 51 percent in 1985 to 64 percent in 1995. Women received 38 percent of all social science doctoral degrees awarded in 1995, but their participation within the various social science disciplines varied. For example, women received 24 percent of the economics degrees, but they received 58 percent of all the anthropology doctoral degrees and 53 percent of the sociology degrees.
In 4-year colleges and universities, women scientists and engineers hold fewer high-ranked positions than men. Women are less likely than men to be full professors, and are more likely than men to be assistant professors or instructors. Among ranked science and engineering faculty, 49 percent of men and 24 percent of women are full professors. Part of this difference in rank can be explained by age differences, but differences in rank remain even after controlling for age. Among those ages 45 to 54, 40 percent of women and 61 percent of men are full professors.
Significant differences in mathematics and science achievement by race/ethnicity remain. Average mathematics scores increased for all racial/ethnic groups since 1990, but differences between white students and black and Hispanic students have not significantly decreased. For example, among 12th graders in 1990, the average difference between white students’ mathematics scores and those of black students was 33 points. In 1996, it was 31 points. The average difference between white students’ mathematics scores and those of Hispanic students was 25 points in 1990; in 1996, it was 24 points.
College enrollment and degree attainment by minorities have been increasing. Although minority enrollment in undergraduate programs dropped in the early 1980s, it has been steadily increasing since 1984, both in numbers and as a percentage of total undergraduate enrollment. In 1984, underrepresented minorities were 14.6 percent of all undergraduate students; by 1994, they were 20.6 percent. Minority women account for more of the increase in enrollment than do minority men. More than half (59 percent) of minority undergraduate students are women, whereas less than half (44 percent) of white, non-Hispanic undergraduate students are women.
Racial and ethnic groups differ in employment sector, partly because of differences in field. Among employed scientists and engineers in 1995, 51 percent of black, 57 percent of Hispanic, 64 percent of Asian, and 62 percent of white scientists and engineers were employed in for-profit business or industry. Blacks and American Indians are concentrated in the social sciences, which are less likely to offer employment in business or industry, and are underrepresented in engineering, which is more likely to offer employment in business or industry. Asians, on the other hand, are overrepresented in engineering, and thus are more likely to be employed by private for-profit employers.
Salaries for scientists and engineers differ little among racial/ethnic groups. Among all scientists and engineers, the median salaries by racial/ethnic group are $50,500 for whites, $50,000 for Asians, $45,000 for blacks, $47,000 for Hispanics, and $48,000 for American Indians. Within fields and age categories, median salaries of scientists and engineers by race/ethnicity are not dramatically different and do not follow a consistent pattern.
The labor force participation rates of scientists and engineers with and without disabilities are quite different. Almost one-third of scientists and engineers with disabilities are out of the labor force, compared with 11 percent of those without disabilities. Although age accounts for some of the tendency for persons with disabilities to be out of the labor force (because of retirements), chronic illness or permanent disability is also a factor. The primary reason for not working for both persons with and without disabilities was retirement (76 percent versus 60 percent), but 21 percent of persons with disabilities and 2 percent of those without disabilities cited chronic illness or permanent disability.
Science and engineering faculty with disabilities are less likely to have publications than those without disabilities. Twenty-two percent of those with disabilities and 17 percent of those without disabilities had no publications since 1990. Faculty with disabilities had fewer publications than those without disabilities—43 percent of those with disabilities and 46 percent of those without disabilities had 6 or more publications since 1990. Faculty with disabilities (38 percent) were also less likely than those without disabilities (45 percent) to have been supported on Federal grants or contracts.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), funded by the National Center for Education Statistics in the U.S. Department of Education, is designed to determine the achievement levels of precollege students in a number of areas, including mathematics and science, and to measure changes in achievement over time. Both mathematics and science assessments are administered periodically to students in the 4th, 8th, and 12th grades. National results are reported by NAEP for each grade level and within various subgroups (e.g., males and females, racial/ethnic groups).
Here, as elsewhere in the report, tests of significance are calculated at the 0.5 level.
The labor force referred to here consists of civilians who are 20 years old or older who are either employed or actively seeking employment.
The science and engineering field in which women earn their degrees influences participation in the science and engineering labor force. A large proportion of women earn degrees in the social sciences, which are defined by NSF as science and engineering, and are then employed in social services occupations, e.g., social worker, clinical psychologist, which are defined by NSF as nonscience-and-engineering occupations.
Differences in field, time since degree and number of publications are likely to explain an additional portion of the differences.
In accordance with Office of Management and Budget guidelines, the racial/ethnic groups described in this report will be identified as white, non-Hispanic; black, non-Hispanic; Hispanic; Asian or Pacific Islander; and American Indian or Alaskan native. In text and figure references, these groups will be referred to as white, black, Hispanic, Asian, and American Indian. In instances where data collection permits, subgroups of the Hispanic population will be identified by subgroup name. The term "minority" includes all groups other than white; "underrepresented minorities" includes three groups whose representation in science and engineering is less than their representation in the population: blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians.
The science and engineering field in which blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians earn their degrees influences their participation in the science and engineering labor force. Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians are disproportionately likely to earn bachelor’s degrees in the social sciences, which are defined by NSF as science degrees, and then employed in social service occupations, e.g., social worker, clinical psychologist, which are defined by NSF as nonscience-and-engineering occupations. See appendix A for the definitions of science and engineering occupations.