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Tenured Women Battle to Make It Less Lonely at the Top

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Science  12 Nov 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5443, pp. 1272-1278
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5443.1272

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CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS-- A new challenge to university administrators is being mounted by respected female professors with tenure who are finding themselves frustrated by the glass ceiling that many male and female academics say still separates the sexes at universities. After nearly 2 decades of struggle, women remain a significant minority on science and engineering faculties, making up only 12.5% of senior faculty in the natural sciences and engineering at all U.S. universities and 4-year colleges, according to National Science Foundation data. Although the percentages of female junior faculty members are roughly double those of full professors, there is disturbing evidence that even the highly successful women who remain in academia and prosper may feel desperately unhappy and out of the loop with their colleagues, a situation that may be most acute at leading institutions. A close look at two of the nation's top universities, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, reveals trends that likely affect women elsewhere but are more acute at these elite schools.