Summary: Feb. 14, 2017 discussion

Locke Rowe presented “A Preliminary Look at Gender Effects in the EEB PhD Program”. Here’s a brief summary:

Locke discussed data on gender equity for EEB and across the university, focusing on four areas: (1) sex ratio in PhD programs; (2) whether gender alters completion rates (the percentage of students in a cohort who have completed their degrees by a particular year); (3) how leave-taking alters completion rates; (4) interaction effects between advisor and student gender. PhD programs are offered in four divisions (Humanities, Social Sciences, Physical Science, and Life Sciences).

  1. The graduate student populations are female biased in each division except the Physical Sciences, the fastest-growing division.
  1. Students in EEB show slightly higher completion rates and shorter median times to completion than the university-average. There is no evidence that gender alters the time to completion. The analysis lumps together students who enter with and without Masters degrees.
  1. Leaves of absence reduce the completion rate, but perhaps less so for parental vs. other types of leave. Female students have slightly but significantly lower completion rates overall, but females appear to have similar (or even higher) completion rates as male students when they do not take leaves of absence. Leaves seem to increase the time to completion, but does that mean that the leaves are too short to be useful or that there were issues that could not be addressed with a leave of absence? More data—e.g., exit surveys—are needed to understand what causes the correlation between leave-taking and reduced completion rates and what interventions could improve outcomes.
  1. Do female students aggregate in labs with female supervisors? Obtaining data is challenging and that limits the number of departments analyzed. We discussed preliminary trends and alternate ways of analyzing the data once more departments have been included.