NCBI Bookshelf. A service of the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

National Academy of Sciences (US), National Academy of Engineering (US), and Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Maximizing the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering. Biological, Social, and Organizational Components of Success for Women in Academic Science and Engineering. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2006.

Cover of Biological, Social, and Organizational Components of Success for Women in Academic Science and Engineering

Biological, Social, and Organizational Components of Success for Women in Academic Science and Engineering.

Show details

Panel 4: Implementing Policies

  • Panel Summary
  • Recruitment Practices, Angelica Stacy, Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley
  • Reaching into Minority Populations, Joan Reede, Harvard Medical School
  • Creating an Inclusive Work EnvironmentSue Rosser, Ivan Allen College, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Successful Practices in Industry, Kellee Noonan, Technical Career Path, Hewlett Packard
  • Selections from the Question and Answer Session Moderated by committee member Nan Keohane


This panel discussed specific practices and policies that foster or discourage the employment and advancement of women in academic science. Angelica Stacy began by questioning whether the entryway to science positions in research universities is inviting to women. Some science departments have noted an “applicant-pool problem” in which the proportion of female applications is lower than that within the total pool of doctorate holders. Departments that have excellent records in hiring women have taken such special steps as selecting diverse search committees and including input from graduate students in the search process.

Like Xie and Drago, Stacy noted that conflict between work and family is a barrier to women, citing statistics that married men with young children are 50% more likely to enter tenure-track jobs than comparable women. Three-fourths of female assistant professors at the University of California, Berkeley have no children, as opposed to 58% of men; and only 9% of female assistant professors have two children, as opposed to 13% of males. Narrow position specifications also disadvantage women, who are 50% more likely than men to do interdisciplinary work and have joint appointments. Berkeley’s new department of bioengineering, for example, is 50% female. Building an entry that is inviting and accessible to women requires proactive recruitment, family-friendly policies, and full-time allocations for multidisciplinary posts.

Joan Reede discussed the special problems of women biomedical scientists who are members of minority groups. Their underrepresentation results from a variety of pipeline issues and barriers, despite the fact that interest in studying science is higher among African American and Asian girls than among white girls. Of African Americans who receive science degrees, 64% are women.

Minority women who do enter academic science careers suffer a double jeopardy, however, because of isolation, lack of mentoring, and the expectation that they will serve as advisors and committee members, Reede added. They have only limited networks for their own guidance. She then described examples of several Harvard University programs (aimed at encouraging and supporting minority science and medical students) that have contributed to the more than doubling of underrepresented minority representation on the Harvard Medical School faculty as well as providing increased opportunities to more than 4800 students.

Sue Rosser examined various approaches to creating inclusive work environments. She used questionnaires and interviews to identify the issues of greatest importance to female science faculty. The top issue, cited by 65 to 88% of respondents, was balancing work with family responsibilities. Next were time management, especially the balance among teaching, research, and committee responsibilities; the low number of women and resulting lack of mentoring and camaraderie; the difficulty of gaining respect and credibility among male peers; and dual career problems, especially pertinent to women scientists since more than 60% are married to men scientists. Reports of harassment, overt discrimination, stereotyping, lack of respect for one’s work, and mere “lip service” to diversity were numerous.

The National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE program is focused on institutional transformation to facilitate the advancement of women scientists into senior faculty and leadership positions in universities. The 19 universities that have received ADVANCE grants are developing an array of models for transformation. Helpful models for making workplaces more inclusive include family-friendly policies and practices and training search committees, chairs, deans, and tenure and promotion committees.

Kellee Noonan, the only convocation speaker from industry, described her company’s Technical Career Program, which is used throughout the company’s worldwide operations. The program aims to recruit and advance the careers of a diverse workforce of highly trained technical professionals. It is designed to break the glass ceiling by making processes fair and transparent, eliminating cumulative bias in selection and promotion, and applying to career advancement the First Law of Diversity: “when bad things happen, they happen worst to people in the minority.”

The career ladder for each position is clearly open and defined, and promotion is based on criteria that are readily accessible on company Web sites and linked to open and broadly available learning resources. This allows employees to know what they need to do to meet each criterion and then to gain the skills required for advancement. A core team works continuously to educate employees about the criteria, using regular forums and other means. A diversity team focuses on goals and metrics, developing mentoring and other programs to help underrepresented ethnic, gender and geographic groups to succeed and advance. Those policies have helped break the glass ceiling for women technologists in some areas of the company, and current efforts continue to “raise the roof.”


Angelica Stacy

Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley

Angelica Stacy focused on recruitment practices, specifically, the structures that are in place in academic institutions and the degree to which they are inviting and accessible to women. As associate vice provost for faculty equity at the University of California, Berkeley, and professor of chemistry, she has been monitoring for a number of years the searches for and the career advancement of faculty and also has been doing general studies of diversity and inclusion on the faculty.

She provided evidence from the Berkeley database on the faculty applicant pool that the entryway to faculty positions is neither inviting nor accessible. Of people who have applied to Berkeley for a faculty position, 75% have filled out a survey indicating their gender and ethnicity. No faculty search had a pool of women that was equal to, let alone above, the pool of women that are in even the most conservative estimate of the PhD pool. Figure 1-10 shows the U.S. PhD pool weighted average across physical science, mathematics, and engineering (n = 12,214). It includes about 15% white women, and 4-6% female members of underrepresented minority groups. Above that is shown the 2001-2004 Berkeley applicant pool (n = 3,952), which is about one-third of the PhD pool. Women are hired as assistant professors in a proportion similar to their representation in the applicant pool.

FIGURE 1-10. Physical science, mathematics, and engineering applicant pool and faculty positions at the University of California, Berkeley.


Physical science, mathematics, and engineering applicant pool and faculty positions at the University of California, Berkeley. SOURCE: UC Berkeley Faculty Applicant Pool Database, 2001-2004; UC Berkeley (more...)

In the biological and health sciences, there are many more women in the PhD pool (Figure 1-11). The applicant pool is about 17% of the PhD pool. Berkeley has been hiring about 50% women into assistant professor positions and now has close to 50% women at the associate professor level. That bulge has not reached the full-professor or leadership ranks at Berkeley.

FIGURE 1-11. Biological and health sciences applicant pool and faculty positions at the University of California, Berkeley.


Biological and health sciences applicant pool and faculty positions at the University of California, Berkeley. SOURCE: UC Berkeley Faculty Applicant Pool Database, 2001-2004; UC Berkeley Faculty Personnel (more...)

What can we do to improve recruitment and hiring of women? Figure 1-12 plots the percentage of women hired against the percentage of women in a conservative estimate of the pool,85 which the departments estimated themselves. The diamonds represent individual departments at Berkeley. The dashed line is a theoretical indicator for hiring equaling the pool. As shown by the bold line, over the entire institution, and even within the sciences, hiring vs. the pool is on the average about even.

FIGURE 1-12. Departmental hiring vs the applicant pool, University of California, Berkeley.


Departmental hiring vs the applicant pool, University of California, Berkeley. Notes: Figures are since 2000; only departments that hired over five faculty during that period are included.

Those data can be used to determine which recruitment and hiring practices correlate with hiring above, at, or below the applicant pool. Table 1-1 shows a ranked list of practices used by departments to enhance the faculty pool; 96% of departments reported listing faculty positions in multiple venues and 84% said that they made it clear that women and members of underrepresented minority groups were encouraged to apply. Dividing the list by those departments that hired at or above the level of the pool of women (Exc.), and those that hired below the level of the pool (Not Ex.) yielded statistically significant differences. The most significant ones—designating an affirmative action officer to serve on the search and saying women and minorities please apply—were highly correlated with those departments that didn’t hire at the level of the pool. Those who are doing excellently are using other kinds of strategies: they are including graduate student input, selecting diverse search committees, and going out to professional meetings and establishing relationships and inviting women to apply rather than assuming that women feel confident enough or included enough to send in an application.

TABLE 1-1. Methods Used by University of California, Berkeley Departments to Enhance Faculty Hiring Pool.


Methods Used by University of California, Berkeley Departments to Enhance Faculty Hiring Pool.

Work-family conflict also affects the applicant pool. Mary Ann Mason and Marc Goulden have found that married women who have children pay a 50% penalty in terms of entering faculty positions, as compared with single women or married men who have children.86 At Berkeley, of female assistant professors, 16% have one child and 75% have no children; 27% of male assistant professors have one child, and only 58% have no children (Figure 1-13).

FIGURE 1-13. Children in households among assistant professors at the University of California, Berkeley.


Children in households among assistant professors at the University of California, Berkeley. SOURCE: MA Mason, A Stacy, and M Goulden. 2003. “The UC Faculty Work and Family Survey.” See (more...)

We now have better policies around the country. Let me assure you that if you get out there and start to say, “This is what we want, this is the way we do things, and this is an entitlement,” which is where a number of our institutions are moving, I think we’re going to see things change.

—Angelica Stacy

Narrow position specifications also affect the applicant pool and numbers of women hired. There is mounting evidence that women are choosing to work at the boundaries of the disciplines. Among the STEM87 faculty at Berkeley, 26% of the women and 15% of the men have joint appointments. Women tend to hold joint appointments in business, biology, law, city and regional planning, economics, and environmental science. In one of the newer departments, bioengineering, 50% of the faculty are women. The biological sciences were restructured. They now include broad, multidisciplinary approaches, and no longer have the old embedded departmental structures of the beginning of the last century. Fifty percent of the faculty are women.

I can’t tell you how many times I have reviewed searches in which the people—predominantly women and minority-group members—were not hired, because they didn’t “fit.”

—Angelica Stacy

As part of its diversity initiative, Berkeley has started to hold full-time equivalent (FTE) faculty positions centrally for groups of faculty and departments that get together proposing new multidisciplinary research areas. This is done to counteract the tendency in departments to hire people who they have always hired, who look just like them, who fill the mainstream slots, rather than moving the institutions forward into new areas. For this, institutional leadership is important. Stacy concluded with four main ideas: proactive recruitment, family-friendly policies, FTE allocations, and leadership. Her motto: build it, so the best will come.


Joan Reede

Harvard Medical School

Joan Reede focused her remarks on reaching into and across minority populations, particularly in the biomedical sciences.

There is a well-known persistent and continuing underrepresentation of African American, Hispanic, American Indian, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian males and females in academic science. The underrepresentation is fueled by limitations in the pipeline and by what Reede termed the “academic black hole” into which many graduates fall, a hole associated with attrition and lack of advancement. Pipeline deficiencies are found in access, achievement, and attitude. Oftentimes, minority-group students are faced with inadequate preparation and awareness of opportunities, underdeveloped relationships with adults and an associated unrecognized potential, and lack of mentoring and career counseling. Minority-group students often have insufficient social supports and resources, particularly financial resources that are necessary to pursue advanced education. As described by Toni Schmader earlier, data show that African American, Hispanic and American Indian students fare less well on high school, college and professional school standardized tests.

In an analysis of the National Educational Longitudinal Survey, Hanson found that there was variability in attitudes toward science for women across racial and ethnic groups.88 For example, African American female students expressed a greater interest in science than did white female students in the 8th and 10th grades.

An important question is what factors sustain, increase, or decrease student’s interests as they move along the educational ladder. Once minority-group members and women enter the academy, they are confronted with barriers and diversity taxes—such barriers as assumptions and stereotypes, including all the “isms”—racism, classism, sexism—and discrimination. They often face cultural, social, and intellectual isolation, and do not have access to formal and informal mentoring.

—Joan Reede

Minority-group women face a double jeopardy associated with their limited numbers and are expected to take on extra service responsibilities associated with counseling of students, residents and fellows and to assume committee assignments. Those activities are not adequately acknowledged within the academic reward system or in the promotion review process.

Minority groups and women often have few research sponsors and opportunities for collaborative research. Their informational networks that can provide input, critique, validation of experiences, and an understanding of organizational rules and bureaucracy are limited. Those issues are cumulative and persist from junior to senior faculty levels.

Adequate numbers of minority-group members, particularly female faculty, cannot be achieved unless pipeline issues are dealt with. Deficiencies in the educational process leading to graduate and professional school disproportionately affect minority-group and poor students. An analysis by the Education Trust89 found that of every 100 white kindergartners, 93% would graduate from high school, 65% would complete some college, and 33% would obtain bachelor’s degrees. The corresponding numbers for black kindergartners were 87%, 50%, and 18% respectively. For Latino and American Indian kindergartners, only 11% and 7% of youth, respectively, would earn bachelor’s degrees. There is also an association between poverty and graduation: the vast majority of students who graduated from college by the age of 26 years come from high-income families.

Of those students who enter college, the National Science Foundation reports that the percentage of Asian, African American, and Latino freshmen who intended to pursue a science or engineering major is higher than that of white freshmen. And for all racial and ethnic groups, the percentage of freshmen females planning to major in science or engineering was higher than the percentage of males. That was true for all science and engineering majors (Table 1-2).

TABLE 1-2. Intentions of Freshman to Major in Science and Engineering Fields, by Race, Ethnicity, and Sex, 2002.


Intentions of Freshman to Major in Science and Engineering Fields, by Race, Ethnicity, and Sex, 2002.

From 1994 to 2001, there was an increase of 27 to 38% in the numbers of science and engineering bachelor’s degrees awarded to all minorities (Figure 1-14). During that period, however, there was a 10% decline in science and engineering bachelor’s degrees awarded to whites. Much of the increase among minorities was fueled by an increase in science and engineering degrees awarded to women. For example, in 2001, 64% or roughly 21,000 of science and engineering bachelor’s degrees earned by African Americans, and 55% or 15,000 of the science and engineering bachelor’s degrees earned by Hispanics were awarded to women.

FIGURE 1-14. Number of science and engineering bachelor’s degrees awarded to minority females, by race and ethnicity, 1994-2001.


Number of science and engineering bachelor’s degrees awarded to minority females, by race and ethnicity, 1994-2001. Note: American Indian/Alaskan Native includes Native Hawaiians and other Pacific (more...)

There is a similar increase in science and engineering doctorates awarded to minority women in the same period, except for Asian Americans (Figure 1-15). Although there was an increase in absolute numbers, the representation of minority-group women as a percentage of all science and engineering doctorates in 2001 was less than 9%, and half of those degrees were to Asian American women. The decrease in Asian American women receiving science and engineering doctoral degrees was not seen in the biological sciences, where the numbers were the same in 1994 and 2001: 268 degrees.

FIGURE 1-15. Number of science and engineering doctorates awarded to minority-group women, by race and ethnicity, 1994-2001.


Number of science and engineering doctorates awarded to minority-group women, by race and ethnicity, 1994-2001. Note: American Indian/Alaskan Native includes Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders; (more...)

For academic medicine and the pipeline of medical students, there was an overall decline in medical-school applications from all racial and ethnic groups from 1997 to 2002. That was followed by a rise in the past two years, with underrepresented-minority applicants finally achieving their 1992 levels in 2004. Associated with the overall increase in applications was an increase in applications from women. However, there was variability in applications across racial and ethnic groups; African American women were nearly 70% of all African American applicants to medical schools.

In looking at applications, matriculants, and graduates, it is important to disaggregate racial and ethnic groups. For example, there was variation in applications among Hispanic subgroups, with a 10% increase in Mexican American applicants from 2002 to 2004, and a 20% decline in Puerto Rican applicants in the same period. That variability was also seen in the percentage of women among the various racial and ethnic applicant pools.

Among medical school faculty, three striking patterns are noted: men and women of color are underrepresented; African American, Hispanic, American Indian, and Alaskan Native women represent a very small percentage of all medical school faculty; and the proportion of women faculty in all racial and ethnic categories declines in advancing up the academic ladder from instructor to full professor (Figure 1-16).

FIGURE 1-16. Medical school faculty by rank, gender, race, and ethnicity.


Medical school faculty by rank, gender, race, and ethnicity. SOURCE: AAMC Faculty Roles Survey, 2004.

Among science and engineering doctorate holders employed in colleges and universities, similar patters of underrepresentation of racial and ethnic minorities, low numbers of women faculty, and aggregation of women among lower academic ranks are also seen (Figure 1-17).

FIGURE 1-17. Number of science and engineering doctorate holders employed in science and engineering occupations in universities and 4-year colleges, by race, ethnicity, and faculty rank, 2001.


Number of science and engineering doctorate holders employed in science and engineering occupations in universities and 4-year colleges, by race, ethnicity, and faculty rank, 2001. SOURCE: Women, Minorities, (more...)

Part of Harvard Medical School’s response to the need for diversity was the establishment of the Minority Faculty Development Program in 1990 and its incorporation into the Office of Diversity and Community Partnership (DCP) that was established in 2002. DCP sponsors almost 20 programs that cross multiple academic levels from kindergarten through college and medical student fellowship and junior faculty programs that provide multiple points of entry, exit, and re-entry. Themes included in the development and implementation of DCP programs include continuity, collaboration and partnership, the building of networks and support systems, formal and informal mentoring, skill building, increasing awareness of career paths and opportunities, and evaluation and tracking.

Using elements of those themes, Reede described three Harvard Medical School programs that are related to organizational structures and policies that deal with collaboration and that address issues that cross multiple levels of the academic and career ladder.

Biomedical Science Careers Program (BSCP). Of the students in this program 60% are women, 47% are African American, and 19% are Hispanic. Founded in 1991 with a group of people from Reede’s office at Harvard Medical School, the Massachusetts Medical Society, and the New England Board of Higher Education, the BSCP quickly grew to a community of individuals and organizations that shared a desire to address diversity. It is now led by a board of directors that includes presidents and CEOs in biotechnology, medical device research, legal, and finance industries; leaders in academe, professional associations, and community colleges; educators; practitioners; and employers. Supported by the community, and without public funding, the BSCP has now reached more than 4,800 high school, college, medical school and professional school graduates, and postdoctoral students and fellows. The more than 500 volunteers who have made the BSCP initiatives work point to the fact that many in the biomedical community are deeply concerned about education, diversity, and the future science workforce. BSCP students have said that experiential opportunities such as internships and job shadowing, contact with minority-group role models, and encouragement from teachers have a large influence on their educational and career goals. BSCP has influenced students to obtain more information, strengthen their interests, and to make them aware of career opportunities and connections with people. Students have been able to identify jobs and apply for jobs, participate in new programs and internships, identify mentors at their schools, and obtain funding.

Visiting Clerkship Program (VCP). More than 700 third- and fourth-year medical students from schools across the country have participated in this 1-month externship program, established in 1990. The program offers travel, housing, faculty advisers, and access to networks and resources. Some 15% of VCP students have returned to Harvard as residents, fellows, and faculty. The students have said the things that are important to them in selecting a residency program are academic training programs, the pre-eminence of those programs, their recommendations and interactions with advisers and mentors, their potential for research participation, and family considerations.

Center of Excellence in Minority Health and Health Disparities. This fellowship program for junior faculty was established in 2002; the first cohort began in 2003. To date, nine faculty fellows have participated. Four have been promoted, one to a division chief. Two are up for promotion now. Eight have obtained external grant funding. An essential component of the program is selected mentors. All fellows have to have letters of support and involvement of department chairs, and the presidents of the participating Harvard Medical School hospitals are involved in the selection. Built into this program are accountability and recognition of and support for excellence.

What issues need to be addressed if we are to achieve racial and ethnic diversity? Responsibility at multiple levels. There needs to be top-down and bottom-up activity that provides vehicles to ensure the success of minority and women students, trainees, and faculty. And this activity must extend beyond verbal acknowledgment of the need for diversity. Recognition of the need should be incorporated into the institutional missions, reiterated in the setting of policies, and integrated in the design of programs. Data should be disaggregated to ensure that issues that disproportionately impact certain racial and ethnic groups are appropriately addressed and outcomes of interventions are adequately tracked. Diversity is not just about minorities and women. Diversity is about how we can improve and advance science for all.

—Joan Reede


Sue Rosser

Ivan Allen College, Georgia Institute of Technology

Sue Rosser began with an emphasis on the need for practical institutional approaches, as suggested by the MIT report.91 Almost simultaneous with the release of the MIT report, the National Science Foundation launched its ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Initiative. For many years, there had been successor programs such as visiting professorships for women, career advancement awards, and professional opportunities for women in research and education (POWRE). Although some of them had a component for institutional transformation, they largely gave money to individual women researchers. In contrast, ADVANCE focuses on institutional changes, especially for women on the academic tenure track to senior and leadership positions. The first round of ADVANCE awardees occurred in 2001 and the second in 2003, and the third round will be announced in early 2006.92 From these grants will come several models of what has worked and what has not worked for different institutions.

Rosser studied the NSF POWRE awardees and the Clare Booth Luce professors to understand the most significant issues, challenges, and opportunities facing women scientists today as they plan their careers.93 She received about 450 responses to e-mail questionnaires and conducted 40 in-depth interviews. Respondents were distributed among all the disciplines, and each of the different years the awards were made are represented.

The first question—an open-ended question—was, What are the most significant issues, challenges, and opportunities facing women scientists today as they plan their careers? People could have said anything. What amazed me was that balancing career with family was the overwhelming response—65 to 88% for all 4 years.

—Sue Rosser

After balancing career with family, a second major issue was time management: balancing work with research, teaching, and service. The third issue was isolation: low numbers, and lack of camaraderie and mentoring. The fourth issue was gaining credibility and respectability. And then the fifth major issue was the dual career problem. All those issues have come up previously in this meeting.

Many of these issues are centered around the fact that the life cycle is based on what I call the white male model. There is nothing wrong with that, unless you’re not white and male; if you are not then it does not work very well for you, particularly the competition between the biological clock and the tenure clock.

—Sue Rosser

Another way of presenting the data is by dividing the responses into four groups:

  1. Pressures women face in balancing career and family (~30%).
  2. Problems faced by women because of low numbers and stereotypes held by others regarding gender (~10%).
  3. Issues that are faced by both men and women scientists and engineers which, because of the current environment of tight resources, may pose particular difficulties for women (~7%).
  4. Overt discrimination and harassment (~5%).

Included in the first category are issues related to the dual career family, which is a particular problem because most women scientists and engineers are married to men scientists and engineers.

The second category has to do with being taken seriously and having increased visibility. The latter is particularly important for women of color, who are very visible because of their low numbers in faculties. If things go well, that’s remembered and can put you on a quick career trajectory. If things go badly, it is not forgotten.

The third category contains issues that are faced by everyone but that have particular angles for women, such as the assumption of being available.

Finally there are overt discrimination and harassment, including slow promotions, lack of women in senior positions, and placement of women into difficult situations because they must buffer the bad behavior of their male colleagues.

Effective models for countering some of those issues have been developed and tested at some of the ADVANCE institutions, including

  • Family-friendly policies and practices, including family-work initiatives, tenure-clock extension, childbearing and family leave, active service modified duty, and daycare facilities.
  • Training of search committees.
  • Training of chairs and deans to manage search committee results and to foster a welcoming departmental environment.
  • Speed mentoring.

Rosser explained that the Georgia Institute of Technology, an ADVANCE institution, has focused on training of tenure and promotion committees. It developed an ADEPT model, an interactive CD-ROM with which people can participate in a tenure and promotion meeting. It developed nine case studies and nine virtual CVs to go with them. The player of the game can participate with three virtual people in the tenure meeting; and depending on what the player says, ADEPT sends the conversation in a particular direction. In addition to research expertise, ADEPT includes such issues as gender, disability, race, ethnicity, and sexuality. The deans were the first to use ADEPT, and then it moved to the department level, the chairs, and all the promotion and tenure committees. All faculty are now using ADEPT.

Rosser and her colleagues are now developing a “navigate your career” section for junior faculty, with frequently asked questions, such as, Should I serve on that NSF review panel, or should I be writing my own proposal? How do I decline gracefully to serve on that committee that my senior colleague has asked me to serve on?

“Speed mentoring” is another popular program at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Junior faculty take their CVs to a meeting with senior faculty who have served on tenure and promotion committees, but who are not currently on tenure and promotion committees. The junior faculty meet with four or five senior faculty in an hour to get a quick take on their CVs and what they might need to do to get ready for promotion to the next level. The senior faculty may suggest another publication or two in a refereed journal, beefing up their teaching, more service on national committees, and so on. Junior faculty like this very much, and say that they get an impression of the different perspectives that different people have. These are the people who have served on tenure and promotion committees, so it is quite realistic.

Rosser is doing some research on older women scientists because she has become concerned that many of the policies put into place through ADVANCE are primarily for younger women. It is very important for more junior women to achieve tenure, but there are different problems for senior women that need to be addressed.


Kellee Noonan

Diversity Program Manager, Technical Career Path, Hewlett Packard

Kellee Noonan explained that about 5 years ago, when Hewlett Packard (HP) merged with Compaq, they found that they had noncompatible technical career ladders. They took the opportunity to step back and say, “Can we take the former HP program and the former Compaq program, do some industry benchmarking, and put together a framework that gives us a place for technologists to be able to see where they are in terms of their skills and abilities, and what they need to be able to do to move to the next level?”

In creating the Technical Career Program (TCP), the goals were to make the promotion process fair and transparent and to eliminate the cumulative bias in selection and promoting. The TCP appears to be helping in terms of moving women and, in the United States, members of underrepresented groups up the career ladder.

The first law of diversity is that when bad things happen, they happen worse to people who are not in the majority.

—Kellee Noonan, quoting Alan Fisher, iCarnegie, Co-author of “Unlocking the Clubhouse”

In developing a promotion policy, HP is faced with some challenges different from universities. For example, because it is a global company, the framework needs to apply to all its businesses in the whole world. HP has research laboratories in the United States, Israel, the United Kingdom, China, Brazil, and India. And it has researchers in outposts in many other places. The program has to be able to address all those areas.

The TCP has clearly defined steps, and they are criteria-based. An employee can go to the TCP Web site in the company portal, and ask, What are the criteria to get to the next step? What kinds of things do I have to do? The criteria are balanced around three areas: impact on the business, depth and breadth of knowledge, and technical leadership skills. It’s a balance of all of them. You don’t have to be perfect in every one. You might have a technologist who is an inch deep but a mile wide. Or you could have a technologist who is an inch wide and a mile deep. What’s the difference? How do you evaluate that? The difference is in the impact they have on the business. How are they applying what they are doing to move the business forward and to get the best products, the best technology, and the best services out to customers in a way that matters?

In addition to the criteria, which are specific, there are career development road maps, examples at every level of what it means to meet a criterion. An HP team works diligently to go through the company’s workforce-development resources to find the exact resources that match a criterion for each level, and publishes them on the company Web site.

If my manager told me that I need to increase my ability to influence a negotiation when there is technology involved, I can go to the TCP Portal Web site and look it up under “influencing” or “negotiation”for my level. And I can find classes that are geared toward improving that skill. We have review boards in place at the higher levels of our ladder. If you get to what we call our strategists’ level, you are reviewed by a cross-business review board to make sure that we maintain consistency in the application of the levels across the company.

—Kellee Noonan

The TCP program core team has a representative of every chief technology office (CTO) to ensure consistency of policy and interpretation. The core team has an information technology function and a research and development function, called the Office of Strategy and Technology. It organizes quarterly TCP information forums, called “airing the dirty linen time,” for employees, HR, managers, and review boards. People can get to the really hard questions. This year, one major focus is the worldwide diversity team. Now, diversity goals and metrics are presented to the CTO every quarter.

HP has also instituted technical leadership curriculum94 which is for distinguished and master level technologists. Those leadership programs have taken traditional leadership out of the management curriculum. These new programs are focused on leading by influence and engagement, because most of the people on the technical career path don’t have a direct staff that can work with them or for them. They have to convince people that it’s worth working for them, they have to convince their manager, they have to convince their manager’s manager.

We have broken the glass ceiling at some of our levels, but we still need to continue raising the roof.

—Kellee Noonan


DR. REED: Alyson Reed with the National Post-Doctoral Association. I was hoping that Sue Rosser could elaborate briefly on the speed mentoring model.

DR. ROSSER: This is a neat program that one of our ADVANCE professors, Jane Ammons, invented. In an hour, junior faculty meet with four or five senior faculty—who have served on tenure and promotion committees, but who are not on tenure and promotion committees at the time of the meeting—and get a quick take on their CV and the senior faculty member’s concept of what they might need to do to get ready for promotion to the next level, from another publication or two in a refereed journal, to teaching, or service on national committees. It’s been very popular. We have done it now three or four times, and we have calls for more. I highly recommend it. The only issue is getting it organized, but we have not had trouble getting senior faculty to do it, and the junior faculty really, really like it.

DR. FLETCHER: Hi, my name is Mary Ann Fletcher at the University of Miami. I would like to speak just briefly about the problem with recruitment of faculty. In my opinion, this problem frequently lies in the fact that at many universities, including my own, have a very severe shortage of women in higher positions in the administration. We have few women as deans, few women as chairs of departments. And so, this leads to search committees that I think frequently have an inborn bias.

I serve on the faculty senate, and we recently had a provost search. I was able to convince our senate to set up a search committee that had one-half female faculty members, and one-half males. Some of the senators said, well, the faculty is not that way. And I said, but the student body is. There are more women than men in our student body. It takes work all the time, and I think the search committees are really key.

DR. AGOGINO: Alice Agogino from the University of California at Berkeley. Do you have any recommendations on how to improve the climate for women faculty in those departments that haven’t reached this magical 18% number?

DR. STACY: We really do need to start taking action at the department level, especially when we start to hear that they are not being managed well, or the interactions aren’t productive, and that they are not an inclusive environment for all the members of that unit, including students and staff, as well as faculty. I think we just need the wherewithal to say that mismanagement is not acceptable at our institutions.

DR. ROSSER: One of the things that’s been helpful to us at Georgia Tech with the ADVANCE institutional transformation grant is in each college we have an ADVANCE professor. This senior professor gets paid extra money from the grant, on the order of $60,000 a year—it’s like an endowed chair—to do activities and build mentoring networks. That has united women in each college, so that for example in engineering, where there are something like 415 tenure track faculty and where women may be isolated in departments, they now don’t feel as isolated, because they now know each other across the college. I have also encouraged department chairs to encourage their women faculty to join women’s studies, which most science chairs think, huh? Why would they do that? I say that may be what makes women hang in.

DR. REEDE: I just want to speak a little bit related to that question, and the comment before about representation of women on searches, et cetera, because one of the critical issues here is oftentimes what gets left out of these discussions: minority representation.

What ends up happening is that one minority person in that department gets rotated for everything. My challenge to the committee and to all of you, as you go back to your institutions, as you think about issues of women, don’t ignore the issues of women of color. When you think about putting women on committees, also think about who will be attending to issues for women and men of color. If you are waiting until women and men of color reach a critical mass on faculties, then I’ll have to look at my great-grandchildren. Oftentimes with minorities, issues are not going to bubble up to the top. They are so isolated and so alienated you may not hear about it.

DR. HAZELTINE: Florence Hazeltine, National Institutes of Health. You said that that there was a bias that women would get short listed or interviewed, but not get past the next step. This reminded me of some business models where if a woman at a high level lost her job, it took her twice as long to get a job as a man. What I want to know is when women do get interviewed for high-level academic jobs—and I see women presidents and chancellors—how many times have they gone up for it versus how many times the successful men have. If the women knew that in advance, we might be able to get them better coaching, a better feel for the system, when they are just going for practice, and when they are just going for real.

DR. KEOHANE: Having had prior experience either in a coaching setting or having been through another interview is very important. I know that this is true for many men as well as women. Since our particular focus here is for women, I think that the suggestion that was implicit in your question is that you prepare in advance for a job interview in the same way you did as a graduate student when you were going for your first assistant professorship, and you learn from these experiences.

I don’t know that there is any evidence that women in most of the really top positions are more likely to be short listed and not chosen. I think that was often true in the past. I think women are more often getting into top leadership positions when they are on the final choice set. What I worry about is that not enough women in academia are seeing high-level leadership positions as an appropriate ambition for themselves. One of the things I find most encouraging about this congregation today is the number of women of strong faculty backgrounds who have been willing to say I will be an associate dean, I will be an associate provost, I will be a provost or a dean or a president.



The pool was calculated on the basis of on PhDs granted to US residents, 1997-2001 (Survey of Earned Doctorates, National Science Foundation) at the 35 top-quartile rated doctoral programs (National Research Council reputation ratings) producing the most PhDs.


M Mason and M Goulden (2004). Marriage and baby blue: Redefining gender equity in the academy. The Annals of the American Academy of Political Social Science 596:86-103.


At Berkeley, biology and health sciences are not included in the category “STEM”, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.


SL Hanson (2004). African American women in science: Experiences from high school through the post-secondary years and beyond. NWSA Journal 16(1):96-115.


Education Trust, Inc. (2002). US Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, March Current Population Surveys, 1971-2001. In The Condition of Education. US Department of Education.


For more details, figures, and references, see the paper by Rosser in Section 2.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1999). A study on the status of women faculty in science at MIT. The MIT Faculty Newsletter 11(4):14-26, http://web​


Several of the meeting posters presented research from ADVANCE grantees; see the poster abstracts later in this volume (p. 175).


SV Rosser and J Daniels (2004). Widening paths to success, improving the environment, and moving toward lessons learned from experiences of POWRE and CBL awardees. Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering 10(2):131-148.


The curriculum is based in part on Robert Kelley’s Star at Work (Three Rivers, MI: Three Rivers Press, 1999) and a program developed in-house called TCP Catalyst.

Copyright © 2006, National Academy of Sciences.
Bookshelf ID: NBK23773
PubReader format: click here to try


  • PubReader
  • Print View
  • Cite this Page
  • PDF version of this title (1.7M)

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...