Knowledge Center

Women in the Sciences

North America


United States

Labor Force
Occupation Percent of Women1
Biological Scientists 50.1%
Medical Scientists 52.8%
Chemists and Materials Scientists 44.2%
Computer and Mathematical Occupations 25.6%
Environmental Scientists and Geoscientists 25.7%




  • Women are 20.1% of all science and engineering managers.2
  • Of scientists and engineers employed in business and industry in 2003, men, on average, have 12 subordinates. Women have 9 subordinates.3
  • According to a survey of 42 chemical companies,
    • in 2007, only 9.2% of all 404 executive officer positions were filled by women; this has risen from 8.7% in 2006.4
    • in 2007, women were only 12.0% of the 416 board directors. While it was an improvement since a 2006 survey where only 11.1% of its directors were women, it did not surpass the 12.8% measured in a 2003 survey of board directors at chemical companies.5

Women in Academic Sciences

Women in Academia (by years worked)6
Field of Doctorate Percent of Women in Positions in Academia (Working less than 10 years) Percent of Women in Positions in Academia (Working 10 or more years)
Mathematics/Statistics 33.3% 16.9%
Biological/Agricultural/Environmental Life Sciences 45.0% 30.2%
Health Sciences 70.1% 62.5%
Physical Sciences 28.9% 15.0%
Social Sciences 47.0% 31.5%
Psychology 66.4% 47.1%
Engineering 22.9% 7.2%


  • A National Science Foundation (NSF) longitudinal analysis of the academic career paths of men and women found that marital status and children impact women's chances for earning tenure and maintaining a position as either an associate or full professor. Female doctoral S&E faculty are less likely than their male colleagues (67% vs. 84%) to be married and less likely to have children living with them (42% vs. 50%).7
  • Women with eight or nine years of postdoctoral experience who are employed full time in academia are about 6.9% less likely than men to be tenured, and women with 14 or 15 years of experience are 8.5% less likely than men to be tenured.8
Percent of University Faculty with Scientific Doctorates That Are Women9
Faculty Title Percent
Professor 21.9%
Associate Professor 38.0%
Assistant Professor 44.4%


  • In most fields in academia, men dominate the positions filled by doctoral scientists and engineers.10

Women of Color in Science

  • Women of color are 11.7% of all employed scientists and engineers in the United States.11
Percent of Science and Engineering University Faculty that Are Women of Color12
Faculty Title Percent
Professor 3.2%
Associate Professor 9.5%
Assistant Professor 13.2%


Salaries of Women in Science (As Compared to Men’s Salaries)13
Occupation Women’s Salary as a Percent of Men’s Salary Women’s Median Salary Men’s Median Salary
Mathematical Scientist 87.5% $70,000 $80,000
Biological/Life Scientist 83.1% $54,000 $65,000
Computer and Information Scientist 91.9% $79,000 $86,000
Physical Scientist 78.9% $60,000 $76,000
Social Scientist 81.9% $68,000 $83,000
Psychology 87.0% $60,000 $69,000




Women Nobel Prizes Winners in Science

  • Since the Nobel Prize was established in 1901, only two women, Marie Curie (1903) and Maria Mayer (1963), have won the Nobel Prize for Physics.14
  • Four women, Marie Curie (1911), Irène Joilet-Curie (1935), Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin (1964), and Ada E. Yonath (2009) have won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry since 1901.15

How to cite this product: Catalyst. Catalyst Quick Take: Women in the Sciences. New York: Catalyst, 2013.