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Women in Science Project
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Alumnae Survey 1996

Looking Back: A Retrospective Study of Dartmouth Science Alumnae, 1973-96

The Women in Science Project completed a major research report, "Looking Back: A Retrospective Study of Dartmouth Science Alumnae, 1973-96," which presents findings from the September 1998 Dartmouth Women in Science Alumnae Survey. This report culminates a three year Electronic Alumnae Connections initiative made possible with grant support from the AT&T Foundation.

The survey was sent out in September 1998 to over 1,300 women who majored in science, math or engineering while undergraduates at Dartmouth. An electronic version was also posted on the web. Over 700 completed surveys were returned for an extraordinary response rate of 55%!

The three major research questions for the study were:

  1. Did these women persist in science after graduating from Dartmouth?
  2. What factors in their college experience encouraged or discouraged them?
  3. What recommendations do alumnae have to best prepare women in science?

Highlights of Findings

  • A substantial majority of respondents (80%) reported that their current or most recent job was in the sciences, while 20% reported being in the nonsciences. Most were in health care and medicine (31%), followed by math and computer science (17%), and life sciences (13%). Almost one-half (45%) of the respondents felt that their current or most recent job related very much to their undergraduate training in the sciences.
  • 81% of respondents were currently employed.
  • 72% of respondents went on to receive postgraduate degrees. Of those, 39% obtained doctoral degrees, while 33% attained masters' degrees as their highest level of graduate training.
  • 28% of respondents offered reasons why they did not pursue careers in the sciences or were strongly considering leaving the field. Over one-half of these women graduated in the eighties (i.e., out of college for 9 to 19 years). Their reasons for leaving science careers included:
    • The advantages of nonscience careers and/or concerns with science careers,
    • The sense of one's own interests and abilities, and
    • The formative experiences in college, graduate school or the workplace.

For more information, see the Executive Summary of Looking Back: A Retrospective Study of Dartmouth Science Alumnae, 1973-96. Excerpts of the Quantitative Data Frequency Report are also available.

An additional report, WISP Alumnae Survey Report on Undergraduate Research, was prepared in Spring '99 to specifically support the work of the Dartmouth College Reaccreditation Subcommittee on Undergraduate Research and focuses on the value of undergraduate research. The Executive Summary of the Alumnae Survey Report on Undergraduate Research is also available.

Last Updated: 8/18/11