Only about one-eighth of the physics professors at Harvard are women, a statistic that might seem to support the recent assertion by its president, Dr. Lawrence H. Summers, that fewer women than men are willing to make the necessary sacrifices. He also suggested that a difference in “intrinsic aptitude” between the sexes might help explain the disparity.
A report released Friday by the American Institute of Physics offers a contradictory conclusion: after they earn a bachelor’s degree in physics, American women are just as successful as men at wending their way up the academic ladder.
Physics continues to be the most male-dominated field among the sciences. Men hold 90 percent of physics faculty positions and earned 82 percent of the doctoral degrees in 2003.