The concern that inequities still exist, as well as the need for empirical evidence to conduct a search for disparities, prompted this study. In 2002, Sena­tor Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), of the Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space of the U. S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation convened three hearings on the subject of women studying and working in sci­ence, mathematics, engineering, and technology.[10] Soon after, Congress directed the NSF to contract with the National Academies for a study assessing gender differences in the careers of science and engineering faculty, based on both exist­ing and new data.[11]

To meet this charge, the National Academies appointed an ad hoc study com- mittee—the Committee on Gender Differences in Careers of Science, Engineer­ing, and Mathematics Faculty—to examine this issue under the auspices of the Committee on Women in Science and Engineering (CWSE) and the Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT). (Appendix 1-1 identifies the members of the study committee and describes their areas of expertise.) The committee was guided by the following statement of task:

An ad hoc committee will conduct a study to assess gender differences in the careers of science, engineering, and mathematics (SEM) faculty, focusing on four-year institutions of higher education that award bachelor’s and graduate degrees. The study will build on the Academy’s previous work and examine issues such as faculty hiring, promotion, tenure, and allocation of institutional resources including (but not limited to) laboratory space.