Gender Inequality in STEM Academia: An Investigation of Factors that Influence the Decision to Remain in the Pipeline

Tasha Eisenhower


In our modern day and age most countries, especially the United States, have recognized the importance of gender equality. National statistics show that although women earn 42% of science and engineering doctorates, they hold less than 25% of STEM jobs.  On top of that, women only occupy 21% of full science professor positions and 5% of full engineering professor positions. According to a recent study on faculty retention and survival rates at research institutions, women have comparable success to men once in a tenure track faculty position. This provides evidence that women are somehow lost from the pipeline between earning a PhD and accepting a tenure track academic position. This investigation aims to answer the predicament of why women that are talented and dedicated enough to earn a STEM PhD elect to pursue career paths other than the research academic track. Statistical data have been collected from several high-activity research institutions as well as from top primarily undergraduate institutions to identify trends in faculty demographics by institution and by discipline. One key observation thus far is that the field of chemistry has an average proportion of women in comparison with other STEM departments, and the United States Naval Academy (USNA) has a higher percentage of females in chemistry compared to the other institutions. Thus, USNA was chosen as a case study to examine potential reasons for its success. Faculty in the Chemistry Department and other departments were surveyed to investigate decisions and choices that influenced their career paths. The results of this analysis are presented with the hope that trends identified at USNA might contribute to the implementation of policies at other institutions to attract and retain more women.


Gender Inequality; STEM Academia; Retention of Females

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