results and more detailed
analysis, please see my Survey
or my June 2004 STATUS article "Portrait of a Decade". --JLH
Results from the 2003 CSWA Survey
Karen B. Kwitter, Williams College
and the AAS
Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy
Download the entire 14-page poster: Postscript (426K) CorelDraw (111K)
List of surveyed institutions
Downloadable survey data
|Figures 1 and 2 show the absolute numbers and the
astronomers who are men and women, for all three years of the survey.
Rank increases to the right in these graphs; "faculty" and "research"
professors are combined at each rank.
|The percentage of women continues to increase
with time at nearly all levels,
with the largest increase at the graduate student level; 30% of
students in astronomy are now women. The historical decrease in the
percentage of women with increasing rank persists. We also find that
the number and the percentage of female assistant professors have
since 1999, which may be cause for concern (however, the 2002 AIP survey
results do not show this decline).
The job market may be worsening again; we see an increase in the number of postdocs but decreases in the numbers of assistant and associate professors since 1999.
Figures 3a through 3c show the distribution of male and female astronomers by rank in 1992, 1999, and 2003. That is, they show the percentage of male (female) astronomers who are graduate students, postdocs, etc.
In 2003, a plurality of women in astronomy are graduate students, but this fraction is decreasing with time. Male astronomers in 2003 are evenly divided between graduate students and full professors; they show a similar trend with time toward fewer graduate students and more full professors, so that the disparities in the distribution of men and women between these two ranks are not changing significantly. The percentages of men and women occupying the middle levels are approximately equal.
institutions to distinguish between "research" and "faculty" professors
in their responses. Figure 4 shows the percentages of faculty
who are men and women; Figure 5 shows the same for research astronomers.
|Overall, women are better represented among
faculty than among researchers.
This suggests that women are not more likely than men to hold
soft-money positions. In fact, we find that among assistant professors
women are more likely than men to be classified as "faculty" (60% of
assistant professors are faculty, compared with 40% of male assistant
professors; the distributions are similar at all other ranks).
|Other interesting results from this survey:
|=>||The percentage of women among current postdocs is
the same (22%) as the percentage of women among graduate students in
among Ph.D. recipients in astronomy in 2000 and 2001 (PhD statistics
the NSF 2001 Science
and Engineering Doctorate Awards report). But the percentage of
in graduate school appears to be increasing faster than the percentage
women at the postdoctoral level.
|=>||There were a third as many female assistant professors in
female postdocs in 1999; for men, the fraction was one half.
|=>|| Female graduate students are better represented at public
than at private schools, but the opposite is true for female full
|This survey had several limitations. We encountered
in standardizing the professorial ranks and faculty/research
institution to institution. Though we attempted to keep the sample as
as possible to the 1992 and 1999 samples, this occasionally proved
as well; it was not alway clear which criteria had been applied in the
or even which people at a given institution should be considered
Statistical complications included small numbers and the possibility of
counting people with multiple affiliations more than once. However, we
this survey provides a robust view of the overall progression of women
men into our profession.
Like any good scientific study, this survey raised many new questions. For example, what factors contribute to the persistent decrease in the percentage of women with rank? Is there significant attrition of women during graduate school? Future studies can complement this one by focusing on more narrowly-defined groups and seeking more detailed information.