Arenson, Karen W. "Study Finds Uneven Progress for Women on Princeton Science and
Engineering Faculty," New York Times, 30 September 2003, p. B5.
Women faculty members in the sciences and engineering at Princeton University feel less job
satisfaction and less of a sense of inclusion than men, according to a new study.
Although women and men received tenure about equally, the study found that women earned less
and took longer to be promoted. And their male colleagues engaged in behavior that they found
offensive. The study provided no specifics.
The study, by a task force appointed by Princeton's president, Shirley M. Tilghman,
recommended that Princeton hire more women, make the university friendlier for women and
take other steps to address the imbalances. The panel also called on Princeton to create a $10
million fund to promote hiring and retention of women in sciences and engineering.
"I'm hoping that this data, in combination with some of the initiatives we are encouraging the
university to take, will make this a premier institution for women," said Virginia A. Zakian, a
professor of molecular biology who led the task force.
"Many of these recommendations will make this a better place to work, not just for women, but
also for men," she added at a news conference yesterday at Princeton.
Dr. Tilghman said she had appointed Joan S. Girgus, a psychology professor and former dean of
the college as well as a member of the task force, to development a plan to recruit faculty women
and improve the climate for women at the university.
Dr. Tilghman said she did not yet know how much Princeton should spend on hiring women,
"but I fully intend to make resources available to meet the recommendations of the task force."
The task force found that Princeton had made some progress in the sciences and engineering. In
2002, women represented 14 percent of the faculty in those areas, up from 9 percent 10 years
earlier. Their share of tenured positions also jumped, to 13 percent from 6 percent.
But the study said that the progress had been uneven. Two departments that had no women in the
faculty in 1992 now have noticeable representation: Women account for 17 percent of the faculty
in chemical engineering and 29 percent in ecology and evolutionary biology.
But several departments showed little change. In molecular biology, the president's own
department, the proportion of women fell to 19 percent from 30 percent.
"It is very easy to become complacent about diversity," Dr. Tilghman said. "In the department of
microbiology there was a sense that the representation of momen was no longer an issue." The
lesson, she added, is that it is "too early to declare victory and go home."
Over all, women accounted for 146 of the 700 faculty slots at Princeton in October, 2002, or 21
percent, the study found. Women were 10 percent in engineering and in the physical sciences, 27
percent in the social sciences and 30 percent in the humanities. Humanities and social sciences
were no included in the study.
But the problems are the same, Dr. Zakian said, "an almost everything we're recommending
could be and should be done universitywide."
The task force commissioned an outside study of salaries, which found that women had slightly
lower pay. But it said that could be explained by departmental affiliations and ranks.
The study also found that while women participated as much as men in universitywide
committees, they were no represented as well in the leadership of their own departments.
Dr. Tilghman said she commissioned the study after meeting with the leaders of eight other
research universities, including Harvard, Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
to discuss gender equity issues. An M.I.T. study had found that its women scientists were not
being treated as well as their male counterparts, and the other universities agreed to examine their
Dr. Zakian, the task force chairwomen, said that when representatives from those universities
met last spring, she and Dr. Girgus "were just amazed at how similar the finds were in the
Since Dr. Tilghman became president two years ago, she has appointed women to many top
posts, sometimes to the consternation of some alumni and students. Besides the president,
Princeton's provost is a women, as are the deans of admission, the college, the Woodrow Wilson
School of Public and International Affairs and the school of engineering.
The task force, composed of nine women and two men, said that hiring more women and
improving their status would make women students and professors feel more comfortable and
help Princeton recruit the best graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. But the president's
committee said it was also "the right thing to do."