New trends show a disparity between female and male professors as well as fewer tenured faculty being hired in lieu of more part-time teachers across the nation.
MN Daily Editor’s Note: This is the second in a two-part series looking at faculty trends in higher education.
The data comes from the American Association of University Professors as a part of its annual “On the Brink” report on the profession.
One woman enters the highest professor rank for every four men, according to the data. Still, this is compared to 1995-96 when the ratio was one woman to every seven men.
When looking at the lower rank of assistant professor, the numbers have stayed constant. Currently, one woman becomes an assistant professor for every 1.2 men. This is slightly better than in 1995-96 where it was one woman for every 1.4 men.
At the University of Minnesota, 80 percent of full professors are men with 20 percent women, Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs Arlene Carney said.
She added the numbers are closer to equal for both associate and assistant professor ranks, where 60 percent of those are men, 40 percent are women.
The University aims to even the numbers at the highest level, Carney said, with more women being promoted there’s a “pipeline to change that big number.”
Although the numbers appear equal when looking at the faculty as a whole, some departments such as the sciences are still heavily male dominated.
“It’s not even close to being equal,” University microbiology professor Leslie Schiff said.
“When I took the job there was one senior female faculty member and me,” she said, “then there was another, and now there is another, but it is still predominantly male.”
Schiff, who was hired in 1990, said while there may not be many women present in her department, she didn’t face problems finding a job after graduation. She applied to three schools and received two offers.
Schiff said she believes one reason for the lack of women as professors is the tough choices they need to make about family.
“The perception is that young women in their 30s are going to have to make hard choices about their careers versus their families,” Schiff said. “That was the biggest barrier and that’s still the biggest barrier.”
For University English department chair Paula Rabinowitz , finding a job after graduate school took more work.
Rabinowitz applied to more than 50 programs, receiving 18 interviews and three job offers when she first looked at becoming a professor in 1986.
“If you go up the ranks and you start going from assistant professor to associate professor to full professor, you’ll see that the numbers of male professors over female professors continues to be disproportionately high,” Rabinowitz said.
A member of the Executive Council of the Modern Language Association , which deals with the humanities, Rabinowitz said while the field currently has more women undergraduate and graduate students, men still out-number them as professors.
Rabinowitz said many times when a profession becomes more feminized it loses its prestige.
According to the data, there are also differences in pay for both genders at the same level.
For a man who is a full professor rank at a public institution, the average salary is $117,840, while the average for women at the same rank is $106,977.
Another trend in the United States is the hiring of more part-time, non-tenured track instructors as opposed to professors.
Carney said the University has not followed this trend, staying committed to hiring tenure-track professors.
Still, the proportion of non-tenured, part-time faculty at the school grew 10 percent between 2003 and 2007.
Although Rabinowitz acknowledges the University’s commitment to tenured professors over part-time positions, she said she doesn’t believe it can be sustained, especially with the current hiring pause.
She pointed to the fact that while the University hires more professors, the departments are smaller than at peer institutions.
“”Essentially they are doing this as a labor speed up. I mean they are saying we can maintain the level of quality on half the faculty,” Rabinowitz said, adding that the English department is 50 percent smaller than it was in the ‘60s, but that has been stagnant for two decades.
The University, she said, is also able to hire fewer part-time instructors since, as a research school, professors train graduate students who in turn do a lot of the teaching.
So, when considering who will get promotions in the future, Rabinowitz considers it a non-issue.
“Tenured professors are an endangered species,” she said. “The whole question of who gets promoted is becoming a sort of moot question.”