Organizational Variations in Women Scientists' Representation in Academia


Stephen Kulis

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering






Begell House, Inc.

Publication Date



Using a nationally representative sample of college faculty from a wide array of institutions and science disciplines, this study investigates links between organizational conditions and women's representation on college faculties. Hypotheses derive from competing explanations for the sharp differences found in women's and men's career outcomes in academia: institutionalized discrimination that protects men's dominant group privileges, statistical discrimination based on expectations of gender differences in academic preparation and scholarship, variations in the female doctoral labor supply by science discipline and locality, political restraints on discrimination and pressure for equal employment opportunity. A multivariate analysis examines organizational conditions associated with women's likelihood of holding faculty appointments at different tenure levels. Results indicate that although the female doctoral labor supply and political constraints are powerful factors in the representation of women faculty, selective organizational contexts play a substantial role as well. Although we find little evidence that insulation from competition or segmented faculty labor markets strongly influence the gender composition of science faculties, women are more often found in entry-level positions where institutionalized discrimination may be checked by unionization and proportionally sizable constituencies of women administrators and students. Consistent with statistical discrimination, women scientists and engineers are poorly represented at the entry level in research-oriented institutions and are more scarce in tenured positions within highly prestigious departments and institutions with very selective admissions. These organizational influences on women's faculty representation hold even after controlling for gender differences in the prestige of academic credentials, level of work experience, and marital and child-rearing responsibilities.


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