Who’s using statistics and advanced math more frequently?

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14 April 2016

On March 10 at the National Science Foundation, assistant director of the Statistical Research Center Susan White gave a talk highlighting the newest findings from the PhD+10 study. The study surveyed 1,544 of physicists employed in the United States who were working in 2011, some 10 to 15 years after earning their PhDs in the United States in the four years 1996, 1997, 2000, and 2001.

White’s lecture examined differences in the job activities of male and female physicists working in various employment sectors. The survey included questions about 25 different job activities, such as “using advanced physics principles” and “managing people.”

percentage of those who use advanced mathematics 

While men and women often reported doing the same activities at work, there were differences between them in almost every employment sector. Out of the 25 items, there were differences in six of the activities for men and women employed in academic departments other than physics or astronomy departments. These physicists are typically faculty members in engineering and mathematics departments. No other sector saw as many differences. For example, men in these departments reported using sophisticated computer modeling and statistics/advanced math more frequently than their female counterparts.

We cannot determine whether the differences are actually in the activities or in the individual’s perception of the activities; either way, there is a difference between men and women: in the work they do or in the way they perceive the work they do, White said.

The Division of Graduate Education in the Education and Human Resources Directorate at NSF sponsored the talk.