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Zakya H. Kafafi Director, Division of Materials Research (DMR) National Science Foundation [email protected] 2010 WISE Career Development Conference, A&M University, College Station, TX. Women in Science and Engineering Research & Education: Looking Back, Racing Forward. Outline of My Talk.

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women in science and engineering research education looking back racing forward

Zakya H. KafafiDirector, Division of Materials Research (DMR)National Science Foundation

[email protected]

2010 WISE Career Development Conference, A&M University, College Station, TX

Women in Science and Engineering Research & Education: Looking Back, Racing Forward

women in science and engineering research education looking back racing forward1

Outline of My Talk

Shirley Ann Jackson

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


  • Status of Women in Science & Engineering
  • Past: Looking Back at the last decade
  • Present
  • Future: Racing Forward to the next decade
  • The MIT Report (1999): A Case Study
  • The Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT
  • Its major findings
  • Its impact
  • Their Career Paths
  • Are they similar or different than the career paths of men
  • presidents? What are the characteristics of these leaders?
  • What are the efforts at NSF and DMR in this regard?

Women in Science and Engineering Research & Education: Looking Back, Racing Forward

Maria Klawe

Harvey Mudd College


Drew Gilpin Faust

Harvard University


the first woman president of an ivy league university
The First Woman President of an Ivy League University
  • Judith Rodin was the first permanent woman and 7th president of the University of Pennsylvania at the age of 49
  • She is widely recognized for her ground-breaking research in obesity, eating disorders, aging, and women’s health
  • 1972-1994: a Yale faculty member who helped pioneer the fields of behavioral medicine and health psychology
  • She also served as the Department of Psychology Chair, Dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, and Provost of Yale University
  • 2005-present: She is president of the Rockefeller Foundation, one of the world’s oldest, most influential, and innovative foundations*

1994 – 2004


BA Psychology, Univ of Pennsylvania

Ph.D. Psychology, Columbia Univ

* Many of the 20th century’s big breakthroughs—Social Security, the Green Revolution, the discovery of

DNA, and family planning—can be traced to early funding from the Rockefeller Foundation

The % women faculty in the School of Science has not increased for at least a decade!!

As of 1994, there were 22 women and 252 male faculty

A Study on the Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT

Committee Chaired by Nancy Hopkins

% Women Faculty in the School of Science at MIT


Status and equitable treatment of women faculty in the School of Science



Statistics on Female Undergraduates at MIT

The Percent of Female Undergraduates at MIT stayed below 5%

over the first 60 years of the last century and increased by almost

an order of magnitude from 1966-2006


exclusion and marginalization
  • Committee collected data and conducted interviews with women faculty and Department Heads
  • Difference in salary
  • Exclusion of women faculty in positions of power and administrative responsibility within departments or within the broader MIT community
  • Apparent discrimination
  • Unequal access to space and resources
  • Non-democratic practices and administrative procedures, known only to a few, lead to unequal access to the substantial resources of MIT

Difference in treatment among tenured faculty!!

mit report 1999
  • Make the Committee on Women Faculty a standing committee
  • Establish an open communication between Department Heads and women faculty
  • Collect equity data
  • Raise community consciousness
  • Seek out women for influential positions
  • Advise Department Heads to place senior women faculty on search committees
  • Review the compensation system
  • Replace administrators who continue discriminatory practices
  • Watch for, and intervene to prevent, the isolation and gradual marginalization
  • Promote integration of junior women faculty
  • Address the childbearing issue for junior women faculty
ruth jean simmons brown university 2001
Ruth Jean Simmons

Brown University


Drew Gilpin Faust

Harvard University


Shirley Marie Tilghman

Princeton University


Amy Gutmann

University of Pennsylvania


  • At present, 50% of the presidents of Ivy League
  • universities are WOMEN
  • The presidents of Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, and
  • Yale are Men


mary sue coleman univ of michigan 2002

Shirley Marie Tilghman

Princeton Univ


Susan Hockfield



Amy Gutmann

Univ of Pennsylvania


Drew Gilpin Faust

Harvard Univ


Mary Sue Coleman

Univ of Michigan


  • At present, >50% of the “MIT-9” presidents are WOMEN
  • The presidents of Cal Tech, UC Berkeley, Stanford, and Yale are Men
percent of women presidents
Percent of Women Presidents

Type of Institution 1986 2006

Doctorate-granting institutions 4% 14%

Master\'s institutions 10% 22%

Baccalaureate institutions 16% 23%

Associate\'s institutions 8% 29%

Special Focus institutions 7% 17%

American Council of Education, 2007, American College President Study, Washington, D.C. Note: institutional types based on the Carnegie Classification 2005

university presidents
  • According to the data collected by the American Council
  • on Education, the typical president in 2006 was:
  • a white male
  • age 60
  • married
  • with a doctorate degree
  • had been in office 8.5 years
  • served previously as a chief academic officer or provost

Do women presidents fall under the same characteristics of a typical men president?

women university presidents

Let’s take a look at the careers of some women university presidents

Did they follow similar career paths to

those of men university presidents?

maria klawe
  • The first Woman President of Harvey Mudd College, at the age of 51
  • A renowned computer scientist
  • Husband: Nick Pippenger

– Theoretical Computer Scientist

  • They have two children, Janek and Sasha
  • B. Sc. Mathematics, University of Alberta
  • Ph.D. Mathematics, University of Alberta
  • Dean of Engineering and professor of Computer Science at Princeton University
  • Dean of Science, Vice-President of Student and Academic Services, and Head of
  • Computer Science at the University of British Columbia

July 2006 – Present

maria klawe1
  • Klawe has been active in many organizations promoting women and leadership in science and technology
  • Chair of the board for the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, Palo Alto, California
  • Became the 10th member of the Microsoft Board in 2009
  • Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Trustee for the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics at UCLA, the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, and the American Mathematical Society
  • Honorary doctorates from Dalhousie University (2005), Queen\'s University (2004), the University of Waterloo (2003), and Ryerson University (2001)
maria s art

"I\'ve been painting and drawing for as long as I can remember. I found it hard to

choose between a career in art and a career in math/science. I eventually opted

for math/science, because I thought it would be easier to do art on the side than

math/science on the side."   

maria s art1

"I took a number of fine arts courses while in university but was quite discouraged by

the attitude of the faculty toward students majoring in science (they felt science students

shouldn’t be allowed in courses for those majoring in fine arts). As I became a professional

mathematician and then a computer scientist, it became clear that also being an artist would

diminish my credibility (already in question because of being female), so I kept my painting

secret. When I turned 40, I decided to come out of the closet and I hung several of my paintings

in my office as well as in my home."

maria s art2

"Today, I show paintings whenever I try to recruit students to engineering. I want them to know

that many leading engineers and scientists are artists, musicians, dancers, or writers.

Engineering and science are creative disciplines. It shouldn’t be surprising that the creative

energy, passion, and talent cross into other areas. I can’t imagine living without painting. It’s a

form of expression of ideas and emotion that I cannot express through any other medium.”

shirley ann jackson
First Woman President of Rensellaer Polytechnic Institute, at the age of 52 (July 1999 – Present)

Husband: Dr. Morris A. Washington – Physics Professor at RPI

They have one son, Alan

shirley ann jackson1
  • In July 1999, Shirley Ann Jackson, became the eighteenth president of Rensellaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), the oldest technological university

in the United States

  • A renowned theoretical physicist, who studies the subatomic world, Shirley Ann Jackson became the first woman president of RPI


  • B. Sc. Physics, MIT
  • Ph.D. Physics, MIT


  • Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • Theoretical physicist at AT&T Bell Laboratories
  • Professor of theoretical physics at Rutgers University

July 1999 – Present

aim for the stars
  • Shirley’s passion for science blossomed during her childhood, with bumblebee experiments and go-cart races
  • Her talent for math and her drive to succeed have taken her career in amazing directions
  • Growing up in Washington D.C. in 1960s, little Shirley absorbed her father’s principle: “Aim for the stars”
  • By the age of eight, Shirley Ann Jackson was developing her passions for science, knowledge, and accomplishments
  • She graduated as valedictorian from the segregated Roosevelt High School in D.C. in the 1960s
  • She then joined the first wave of African American students to be accepted at MIT
shirley ann jackson2
  • One of only two African-American women in her undergraduate class
  • First to earn a doctorate degree from MIT
  • One of the first two African-American women in the United States to earn a doctorate in physics
  • Shirley Ann Jackson was both the first woman and the first African-American to serve as the Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • She is the first African-American woman to lead a top-50 national research university
  • In April 2009, Barack Obama appointed Dr. Jackson to serve on the President’s Council of Advisors of Science and Technology
drew gilpin faust
  • First Woman President of Harvard University, at the age of 59
  • Husband: Charles E. Rosenberg

– Historian of Medicine and Science at Harvard University

  • They have two daughters, Jessica and Leah

July 2007 – Present

drew gilpin faust1
  • Became the twenty-eighth president of Harvard in July 2007
  • A renowned historian and scholar of the Civil War and American South, Gilpin is the first woman president to lead Harvard, the oldest university in the United States, founded in 1636
  • She is the first president since 1672 without any degree from Harvard
  • She is Lincoln Professor of History in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences


  • BA in History, Bryn Mawr University
  • MA in American Civilization, University of Pennsylvania
  • Ph.D. in American Civilization, University of Pennsylvania


  • Founding Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
  • Annenberg Professor of History and Director of the Women’s Studies Program, University of Pennsylvania, where she served for 25 years on the faculty
rebellious daughter
  • What were the odds that the president of Harvard would be a woman?
  • Raised in the Shenandoah Valley, VA.
  • Drew was told repeatedly by her mother: “It’s a man’s world, sweetie, and the sooner you learn that, the better off you’ll be.”

In October 2007, upon her appointment as Harvard’s new president, Drew,

was given a brown manila envelope that had been entrusted to the

University Archives in 1951 by James B. Conant, Harvard’s 23 president,

and to be opened in the 21st century. It was addressed to “My dear Sir”…

drew gilpin faust2

“One of the things that I think characterize my

generation – that characterizes me, anyway, and others

of my generation – is that I’ve always been surprised by

how my life turned out,”… I’ve always done more than

I ever thought I would. Becoming a professor – I never

thought I would have imagined that. Writing books – I

never would have imagined that. Getting a Ph.D. – I’m

not sure I would have even have imagined that. I’ve

lived my life a step at a time. Things sort of happened.”

women university presidents1

Amazingly, they did not “plan or dream to become university presidents”

They seized the opportunity, when it occurred

They chose this path to make a difference and to show that they can do the job

At the same time, their spouses did not sacrifice their careers, and did not become high-profile volunteers, who served as informal leaders

Their Career Paths

What struck me is the similarities among such a diverse group

of women, in terms of their education, career paths,

leadership styles, and philosophies.


bachelor s degrees awarded in s e and non s e fields by gender 1966 2007
Bachelor\'s degrees awarded in S&E and non-S&E fields, by gender: 1966–2007

Women have earned approximately half

of S&E bachelor’s degrees since 2000

  • The number of bachelor\'s degrees earned by women have increased since 1966reaching
  • 244,000 in S&E and 642,000 in non-S&E in 2007
  • The number of bachelor\'s degrees earned by men in S&E fields remained fairly flat for
  • much of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s before rising through 2007


doctoral degrees awarded to u s citizens permanent residents by gender 1989 2007
Doctoral degrees awarded to U.S. citizens & permanent residents, by gender: 1989–2007

Women earned increasing numbers of doctoral degrees

throughout the period in both S&E and non-S&E fields

  • In 2007, women earned 47% of S&E doctoral degrees up from 33% in 1989, in contrast to the generally flat or downward trend for men
  • Men earned roughly 10,000 S&E doctoral degrees in both 1989 and 2007


SOURCE: National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics, special tabulations of U.S. Department of Education,

National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, Completions Survey, 1989–2007.


DMR Sponsored Workshops

Ultimate Goal

To Develop a Diversified Materials Research & Education Workforce

  • Materials Science and EngineeringGender EquityWorkshop,
  • Adelphi, MD, May 18-20, 2008
  • Materials Science and Materials Engineering EducationWorkshop,
  • Arlington, VA, September 18-19, 2008
  • Workshop onExcellence Empowered by a Diverse
  • AcademicWorkforce: Chemists, Chemical Engineers and Materials
  • Scientists with Disabilities, Arlington, VA, February 8-10, 2009

MSE Gender Equity Workshop*

May 18-20, 2008

University of Maryland Conference Center, Adelphi, MD


Goal: Understand key issues of gender equity in MSE departments

and develop strategies to foster an inclusive workplace environment

  • Topics included current status, understanding biases, balancing
  • work and family life, improving the workplace environment, etc.
  • ~100 Participants: from academia, National labs., funding agencies
  • A report was just published

* Held at the annual meeting of University Materials Council

* Sponsors: NSF (DMR & ENG), DOE-BES,UMC, and UIUC MSE department
















Diane O’Connell, Strong Force: The Story of Physicist Shirley Ann Jackson, 2006




exclusion and marginalization comparison between tenured vs untenured faculty
EXCLUSION AND MARGINALIZATION Comparison between tenured vs untenured faculty

Same resources

Same salaries

Same other material benefits

Received good support from their departments in their scientific endeavors

Felt included in departmental activities and intellectual networking

Junior women faculty, who have children, felt that demands of family are a potential obstacle to success in their careers

Committee did not collect data

  • Difference in salary
  • Exclusion of women faculty in positions of power and administrative responsibility within departments or within the broader MIT community
  • Apparent discrimination
  • Unequal access to space and resources
  • Non-democratic practices and administrative procedures, known only to a few, lead to unequal access to the substantial resources of MIT
  • Committee collected data and conducted interviews with women faculty and Department Heads

No apparent difference in treatment among untenured faculty!!