From Scientific American:
Women who apply for tenure-track positions at top-tier research universities in math and sciences these days have a slightly better chance of landing the job than their male colleagues, says a new study funded by the National Science Foundation. But that's just for those who apply, which is a good tick lower than those who earn PhDs. In chemistry, for example, women made up 32 percent of newly minted PhDs from 1999 to 2003 but accounted for only 18 percent of applicants to tenure-track positions. The recent report, commissioned by Congress, surveyed 89 institutions and examined PhD and faculty gender distribution in biology, chemistry, civil engineering, electrical engineering, math and physics.
Despite being a minority of math and science faculty overall, the number of women in the academic ranks is on the rise. For example, in 1995, women made up 18.7 percent of assistant math professors and 7.6 percent of the full professors. By 2003, those numbers had increased modestly to 26.5 percent of assistant math professors and 9.7 percent of full professors.
The results also revealed that tenured female professors earned about 8 percent less than male colleagues. “There are still big problems facing women in the science, technology and engineering fields,” says Phoebe Leboy, president of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) and a biochemistry professor emerita at the University of Pennsylvania. Many women get a close look at the academic prospects ahead and say, “This job is not designed for me,” Leboy says.
So what are they doing instead?