The characteristics of 273 male science teachers were compared with 72 female science teachers randomly selected from a fourteen-state region in the USA. A multivariate analysis of variance found differences between the two groups significant at the p ⩽ 0.0005 level. Female teachers were higher on measures of interest in science and receptivity to change. Males scored higher on science knowledge indicators and on their perceptions of the teaching support they received. No differences were noted on measures of professional development or their perceptions of teaching effectiveness, curriculum, workload, or facilities. The implications of the findings are discussed in terms of science career selection by women.