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Investigation Of The Underrepresentation Of Women In The G.R. Brown Teaching Awards At Rice University

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Focus on Faculty

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.819.1 - 14.819.12



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Paper Authors


Charlie Law Pennsylvania State University, Schuykill

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Charlie Law is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Penn State Schuylkill. He received his Ph.D. in Psychology from Rice University in 2008.

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David Younger Rice University

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David Younger is a junior student at Rice University with a major in Bioengineering and a minor in Business. He is interested in working for a non-profit biotechnology company that delivers health care solutions to developing countries.

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Ann Saterbak Rice University

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Ann Saterbak is Professor in the Practice and Associate Chair for Undergraduate Affairs in the Bioengineering Department at Rice University. She received her B.A. in Chemical Engineering and Biochemistry from Rice University in 1990 and her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in 1995. In 2007, she won the ASEE Robert G. Quinn Award for Excellence in Laboratory Instruction.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Investigation of the Underrepresentation of Women in the G. R. Brown Teaching Awards at Rice University


During 2000-2007, only three of the 28 unique winners (11%) of the G. R. Brown Award for Teaching at Rice University were women. In addition, none of the winners were women in the science or engineering faculty, whereas eight men in these areas were winners. The purpose of this project is to investigate the reasons for the underrepresentation of women faculty, particularly the women faculty in science and engineering, in the most prestigious teaching awards at Rice University.

We explored the process for administration of the G. R. Brown Teaching Awards. Only tenure- track and tenured faculty are eligible for this award; seven total awards are given each year. Rice University alumni who graduated two and five years ago vote on the award winners. The voting is done by mail through ballots. During the last four years, 11-14% of alumni have participated. The selected winners are simply the faculty members with the most votes.

Considering the ranks of Full Professor and Associate Professor (likely ranks, given that alumni vote), 16% of the faculty are women. Thus, on a percent basis, women are underrepresented as winners in the G. R. Brown Teaching Awards. While excluded from the G. R. Brown Teaching Awards, 31% of the women faculty are at the Lecturer rank. Thus, the exclusion of non-tenure- track faculty disproportionately disadvantages women faculty members.

Considering the number of unique winners (28 total in 8 award years), there is an overrepresentation of winners in Humanities (36% of winners vs. 28% of total faculty) and Social Sciences (32% vs. 12%). There is an underrepresentation of winners in Engineering (11% vs. 24%), Natural Sciences (18% vs. 22%), Architecture (0% vs. 5%), and Music (4% vs. 8%). The situation is even more pronounced when considering the total number of awards given (54 in 8 award years). In this case, Social Sciences receives three times more awards on a percentage basis than its faculty represents, and Engineering receives about half of awards that would be expected, based on the number of faculty in each school at the university. Thus, one explanation for the absence of women award winners who teach in science and engineering is that all faculty in the areas of Science and Engineering are underrepresented.

One distinguishing feature between winners and non-winners is the average number of undergraduates taught per semester. Winners teach statistically significantly more students than non-winners (t-test, P<0.0005). Investigating the large courses in the Colleges of Natural Science and Engineering, 71% of male faculty (32 of 45) teaching large courses are tenured or tenure-track, whereas 72% of female faculty (10 of 14) teaching large courses are Lecturers or Instructors. Thus a second possibility for the absence of women award winners who teach in science and engineering is that most female faculty who teach large numbers of undergraduate students are disqualified from the award due to rank.

Recommendations to modify the selection process to ensure equitable recognition are given.

Law, C., & Younger, D., & Saterbak, A. (2009, June), Investigation Of The Underrepresentation Of Women In The G.R. Brown Teaching Awards At Rice University Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5220

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