Panel Paper: Gender Differences in the Time to Obtain Tenure-Track Positions in Academic Science: Effects of the Gender Pairing Between Advisors and Advisees

Saturday, November 4, 2017
Horner (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Sang Eun Lee, Arizona State University

This paper examines gender effects in the first academic job attainment outcomes among academic science, technology, engineering and mathematic (STEM) scientists. In particular, this research examines how job applicant’s gender and the gender of Ph.D. advisor and postdoctoral supervisors, together, explain gender differences in the time to obtain the first tenure-track positions.

It takes longer for female STEM scientists to get the first tenure-track positions as compared to male scientists. Longer time being in the job market or having temporary positions until permanent positions disadvantages female scientists because it is associated with negative implications such as lower job security, lower scholarly autonomy in research opportunity, delayed career progress, and lower salary than male counterparts (Long, Allison, & McGinnis, 1993; National Research Council, 2010). Despite concerns about the negative effects, little systematic empirical research has investigated the extent of gender effects on delays in obtaining tenure-track positions in academic STEM. Likewise, little is known as to whether the gender of the advisor and the gender pairing between the advisor and advisee play a role in the initial job attainment in academic STEM while Ph.D. advisors and postdoctoral supervisors have significant impacts when junior academic scientists search for a job.

Social Network and Social Capital Theory are used to explain effects of advising and supervising network. The Status Characteristics Theory, describing how gender as a status characteristic leads to gender inequalities in the labor market, is used to explain the gender differences in time to obtain the first tenure-track positions. Based on the theoretical lens, I establish model and hypotheses for predicting the relationship between the time to obtain the first tenure-track positions among junior academic STEM scientists and (1) their gender, (2) the gender of their PhD advisors and postdoctoral supervisors, and (3) the gender pairing between the advisors and the advisees.

For the analysis, I use the data collected from a national survey, funded by the National Science Foundation, completed in 2011 by tenured and tenure-track academic faculty in STEM fields from higher education institutions in the United States. Ordinary least squares (OLS) regression model is used for data analysis. Findings suggest that it takes longer for female junior STEM scientists than male counterparts to obtain the first tenure-track positions controlling for other individual level factors such as research productivity and family caregiving obligations. Findings also show that female scientists with female Ph.D. advisors have a shorter time to get the first tenure-track positions compared to female scientists with male Ph.D. advisors. The findings shed new light on the current discussions of gender differences in academic job attainment outcomes and present empirical evidence for university administrators. This study will provide insights on how junior scientists’ gender and the gender pairing of the advisor-advisee affects the initial job attainment outcome in academic STEM. The insights contribute to the theoretical understanding of gender inequality, especially in the earlier stages of academic careers and also provide empirical evidence by detailed measures of gender effects on hiring faculty in STEM fields.