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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

The 1988–89 Taulbee survey report


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This report describes the results of a survey of the Forsythe list of computing Departments1, completed in December, 1989. The survey concerns the production and employment of Ph.D.s that graduated in 1988-892 and the faculty of Ph.D.-granting computing departments during the academic year 1989-90. All 129 Computer Science (CS) departments (117 U.S. and 12 Canadian) participated. In addition, 29 of 32 departments offering the Ph.D. in Computer Engineering (CE) were included3. Throughout this report, CE statistics are reported separately so that comparisons with previous years can be made for CS, but the intention is to merge all statistics for CS and CE in a few more years. Some highlights from the survey are: The 129 CS departments produced 625 Ph.D.s, an increase of 8 percent over the previous year; 336 were Americans, 35 Canadians, and 248 (40 percent) foreign (6 were unknown). Of the 625, 309 (49 percent) stayed in academia, 181 (29 percent) went to industry, 24 (4 percent) to government, and 56 (9 percent) overseas; 7 were self-employed; and 9 were unemployed (39 were unknown). A total of 1,215 students passed their Ph.D. qualifying exam in CS departments, an increase of 9 percent over 1987-88. No Afro-Americans, 6 Hispanics, and 87 women (14 percent) received Ph.D.s this year. The 129 CS departments have 2,550 faculty members, an increase of 123, or almost 1 per department. There are 938 assistant, 718 associate, and 894 full professors. The increase came entirely in the associate professor range. The 129 CS departments reported hiring 204 faculty and losing 161 (to retirement, death, other universities, graduate school, and non-academic positions). Only 9 assistant professors in the 158 CS and CE departments are Afro-American, 24 Hispanic, and 103 (9 percent) female. Only 2 associate professors are Afro-American, 8 Hispanic, and 74 (8 percent) are female. Only 5 full professors are Afro-American, 8 Hispanic, and 33 (3 percent) female. The growth in Ph.D. production to 625 is less than what was expected (650-700). Still, a growth of almost 50 Ph.D.s is substantial, and it will mean an easier time for departments that are trying to hire and a harder time for the new Ph.D.s. There is still a large market. The new Ph.D.s. however, cannot all expect to be placed in the older, established departments, and more will take positions in the newer departments and in the non-Ph.D.-granting departments.Growth of Ph.D. production seems to have slowed enough so that over production does not seem to be a problem in the near future. There will not be enough retirements, however, to offset new Ph.D. production for ten years. (In the 158 departments, 22 faculty members died or retired last year.) We believe that many of the new Ph.D.s would benefit from a year or two as a postdoc, and perhaps it is time for the NSF to institute such a program in computer science and engineering.The percentage of CS Ph.D.s given to foreign students remained about the same at 40 percent. In CE, the percentage was much higher, at 65 percent.The field continues to be far too young, a problem that only time is solving. CS continues to have more assistant professors than full professors, which puts an added burden on the older people, but there was substantial growth this year in the number of associate professors (as assistant professors were promoted). But the ratio of assistant to full professors in CS has not changed appreciably in four years. As we have mentioned in previous Taulbee Reports, no other field, as far as we know, has this problem. In fact, most scientific fields are 80 to 90 percent tenured in many universities. In CS, this problem is more severe in the newer and lower-ranked departments. In fact, the top 24 departments now have 223 assistant, 176 associate, and 290 full professors. The CE departments have far more full professors than assistant professors, mainly because many are older EE departments offering CE degrees.As we have indicated, Afro-Americans and Hispanics simply are not entering computer science and engineering. It is high time that we did something about it, and we hope the CRB will take the lead in introducing programs to encourage more participation from these minorities.There was a slight growth in the percentage of female Ph.D.s in CS, from 10 to 14 percent. Still, there are far too few women in our field, and our record of retention of women in the faculty is abysmal. There are only 33 female full professors in the 158 CS and CE Ph.D.-granting departments! Again, we hope the CRB will help introduce programs to encourage more women to enter computing and to remain in academia over the years. The signs are that the NSF is interested in this problem as well.

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