As for January 2008, there were 12,354 geoscience faculty employed in geoscience departments at US colleges and universities, compared to 13,554 in 1999. The numbers of Emeritus and Assistant Professors remained the same over this time, but the number of all other faculty dropped. Currently, 56% of all faculty are tenured, while 19% are untenured, but in tenure-track positions.
Females make up 14.2% of tenure-track faculty in geosciences departments compared to 28% in tenure-track positions in all science and engineering elds. In the geosciences, 18.6% of non-tenure track positions are held by women. The level of female participation in faculty positions has not changed signicantly in recent years.
In contrast, the number of female students in the geoscience pipeline has steadily increased over the past several decades, with overall percentage of degrees granted to females at 43%.
College graduate workers with their highest degree in the geosciences comprise 23% of the mining industry, 11% of the petroleum industry, and 3% of the basic research industry. If a worker has multiple degrees, only their highest degree (bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate, or professional) is represented in these charts.
Individuals who hold terminal geoscience master’s or doctoral degrees have similar academic backgrounds. Both groups have comparable percentages of bachelor degrees in business (~ 1%), engineering (12-17%), geosciences (50-56%), other science & mathematics (18-19%), and other degree elds (12-14%). Also, 9% of geoscience master’s degree recipients have an associate’s degree, whereas 4% of geoscience doctoral degree recipients have an associate’s degree.
Most geoscience doctorate holders (79%) have a master’s degree.
Tenure-track geoscience faculty progress steadily through the academic ranks from assistant professor to full professor by the age of 60. Full professors tend to work later into their career, and there is a cross-over in the population of full professors and emeritus in the 71-75 age range.
The states with the most geoscience departments are in California, New York, and Pennsylvania. Students in states that have a larger number of universities with geoscience departments will, in general, have a greater diversity of options to major in the field in their region.
Low student to tenure-track faculty ratios have be linked to enhanced educational experiences of university students by allowing more contact hours between students and faculty members. This ratio, interestingly, does not strongly mirror the number of departments per state.
Total federal funding for geoscience research has leveled off since 2003, as have the proportions of funding for atmospheric science, geological science, and oceanography. Since the mid-1980’s however, the percentage of geoscience research funding applied to interdisciplinary geosciences has steadily increased.
The states with the lowest percentage of under-represented minorites have relatively small populations with more than 50% of the people living in rural areas. The under-represented population includes Black and African American, American Indian and Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiian and other Pacic Islanders, Hispanics, and people identied with “Two or More Races”.
The majority of geoscientists in the workforce are within 15 years of retirement age. Data from federal sources, professional societies, and industry indicate the imbalance of the age of geoscientists in the profession. The percentage of geoscientists between 31 and 35 years of age is less than half of geoscientists between 51-55 years old.
A common assertion is that the number of geoscience degrees granted is dependent on the price of oil. However, this metric requires a response lag greater than oil price change velocity. A more responsive mechanism would likely be the rate of degree completion – that students would be incentivized to complete their geoscience degree by improved economic prospects.