AAUP Faculty Gender Equity Indicators 2006

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The barriers for women in higher education not only raise questions of basic fairness, but place serious limitations on the success of educational institutions themselves. Colleges and universities are not taking advantage of the widest talent pool when they discriminate on the basis of gender in hiring or promoting faculty. When women are hired, they are often paid lower salaries than men of equal rank, again shortchanging both women faculty and educational institutions by discouraging women graduate students from pursuing academic careers. The nature and scope of academic research is, in turn, affected by the lack of gender equity. When women are missing from faculty ranks, the research questions they would raise—whether or not those questions relate to matters of gender—are not asked and the corresponding research is not undertaken. American higher education as a whole suffers because of the lack of gender equity in the faculty. 

The extraordinary expansion of women’s enrollment in graduate programs has not translated greater  women’s presence on university and college faculties. Women’s integration into the faculty ranks, however, has occurred much more slowly. In 1972, women made up 27 percent of all faculty in higher education. By 2003, women comprised 43 percent of all faculty, 39 percent of full-time and 48 percent of part-time faculty. Women occupied about 9 percent of full professor positions at four-year colleges and universities in 1972, and still only 24 percent of all full professors in 2003.

The AAUP has been tracking this uneven progress of women in the academy for many years and reports faculty data by gender as part of its annual compensation survey. Due to the persistence of faculty gender inequity at U.S. colleges and universities, it is time to look more deeply into the situation women face on individual campuses and among different types of institutions. Reviewing comparative data across a large number of higher education institutions, it becomes more obvious that women’s status varies greatly. Accordingly, AAUP has developed a new set of numbers, gender equity indicators, for individual colleges and universities to illustrate women’s progress (or lack thereof) in pursuing academic careers. The four indicators represent different aspects of the overall status of women faculty, which at current levels amount to a series of accumulated disadvantages: Women faculty are less likely than men to hold full-time positions. Women in those full-time positions are underrepresented in tenure-track positions, and have not attained senior faculty rank (represented here by the full professor rank) at the same rates as men. At each full-time faculty rank, women earn less than men, and the accumulated disadvantages of position are exemplified by the comparison of overall average salary in the final indicator. 

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