Chemistry Faculty's'W-Index' | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 86 Issue 6 | p. 6 | Letters
Issue Date: February 11, 2008

Chemistry Faculty's'W-Index'

Department: Letters

C&EN's 2007 survey of top 50 chemistry departments shows that the representation of women on chemistry faculties has changed very little in the past year and remains quite low (Dec. 24, 2007, page 44). Examining the past eight years, however, shows stronger evidence of progress.

The number of top 50 departments with at least five women faculty has more than doubled, from 10 in 2000 to 21 in 2007. But let's look at a different metric, which I'll call the "w-index," where w is the number of departments with w-or-more women faculty. The w-index was constant at 6 from 2000 through 2005, and drifted to only 7 in 2006 and 2007. Furthermore, the number of departments with 10 or more women has also scarcely changed, fluctuating between 1 and 2 from 2000 through 2004, and holding steady at 3 since 2005.

These barely perceptible increases are stunning, as the number of women receiving chemistry doctorates has increased substantially, and considerable attention has been focused on the importance and value of achieving greater diversity in chemistry faculties. Chemistry departments appear to be relaxing efforts to diversify their faculties once a few women have been recruited.

Robin Garrell
Los Angeles

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