A review of previous research at the time the surveys were conducted showed that the proportion of female science and engineering (S&E) faculty at Research I (RI) institutions was rising but had yet to reach parity in reference to the propor­tion of S&E doctorates awarded to women. From 1979 to 2003, the percentage of female S&E assistant professors at these institutions grew from 11 percent to over 35 percent; the percentage of female S&E associate professors rose from 5 percent to 24 percent; and the percentage of female S&E full professors rose from about 2 percent to about 11 percent.[119] These aggregate trends masked substantial variability across departments. Some disciplines, such as biology, had attracted many more female faculty than others, and within a specific discipline, some departments had attracted many female faculty while others still have no women among their faculty members (e. g., Ivie and Ray, 2005; Kuck et al, 2004; Nelson and Rogers, 2005). Additionally, there had been some concern that while earlier efforts beginning around 2000 had increased female representation, those efforts may had stalled out.

Both the overall rate of growth in the percentage of S&E faculty who were women and the variation among departments, disciplines, and institutions may be partly attributable to the hiring process.