Faculty women who are mothers experience overwhelming pressures associated with meeting their institutions' standards for tenure and fulfilling their responsibilities as parents. In this article, I draw on personal experience and scholarly debate to demonstrate that while many academic institutions have made considerable progress in accommodating academic parents' practical concerns—i.e., accessibility to quality childcare and reduced time for teaching and research—they still fail to recognize how thoroughly motherhood can alter a female academic's career. I argue that the psychological adjustment to motherhood required of female academics who bear children early in their careers calls for serious reconsideration of the timing and requirements associated with the tenure process. In response to this psychological and emotional consideration, I suggest a triplet of modifications to the standard research-driven tenure model intended to emphasize individual academics' experiences and interests, in general, and the ways in which the experiences of academic mothers, in particular, might positively transform academe.
As a Black assistant professor, April L. Few discusses the challenge of balancing the demands of tenure and her commitment to community, diversity, and social justice. In this story about her journey toward tenure, she reflects upon how racism and sexism within the classroom have defined her professional identity as an activist scholar. She also poses questions for feminist scholars who struggle about whether moving toward the center or mainstream of an institution means having to lose pieces of oneself in the tenure process. In order to provide additional perspective on this issue, Fred P. Piercy, the department head, and Andrew Stremmel, the departmental chair of the tenure and promotion committee, also reflect on this dilemma and suggest ways of turning teaching and service into scholarship that counts for tenure. Although it may be said that all new faculty face transitions, this story discusses additional challenges that are often negotiated by untenured ethnic faculty at predominantly White universities.
In the case of Desert Palace v. Costa (2003), the Supreme Court's liberalization of evidentiary standards in proving discrimination helps women building cases of discrimination along the legal frame of disparate treatment theory. Desert Palace v. Costa clarifies and effectively expands the type of evidence that can be used to prove sex discrimination in cases where legitimate and illegitimate reasons are used to curtail employment opportunities. Now direct and circumstantial evidence can be used to build a case of sex discrimination in these mixed-motives cases. Given the nuances of faculty evaluation processes and the subjectivities therein, this legal development is particularly beneficial to women in academia. Nevertheless, while Desert Palace v. Costa is a progressive step forward, the law of sex discrimination remains limited in its ability to provide remedy in cases where similar treatment results in outcomes that vary on the basis of sex.
The importance of teaching evaluations to the tenure and promotion of women faculty cannot be underestimated. Administrators routinely consider classroom teaching in hiring, tenure, promotion, and salary decisions and increasingly rely most heavily on quantitative student ratings. Scholars who have attempted to determine whether/how gender enters into students' evaluations of their teachers generally fall into two camps: those who find gender to have no (or very little) influence on evaluations, and those who find gender to affect evaluations significantly. Drawing on insights developed from sociological scholarship on gender and evaluation, we argue that the apparent inconsistency on the question of whether student evaluations are gendered is itself an artifact of the way that quantitative measures can mask underlying gender bias. We offer concrete strategies that faculty, researchers, and administrators can employ to improve the efficacy of the system of evaluation.
Women's tenure rates are widely and justifiably considered critical indicators of women's status within academia. In this article, however, we question the meaning of this indicator. We find that Ph.D. career path data show women's likelihood of getting tenure is equal to or better than men's in fields dominated by men. Most literature on gender and tenure focuses on family/work balance and academic climate issues, but a review of common labor market explanations in relation to Ph.D. career path data suggests that we need to view the academic labor market as just one segment of the broader labor market. In conclusion, we argue that understanding women's tenure status requires "widening the lens" to include the role of labor market alternatives to academic careers.
Previous research has found that the problem of sex inequity in higher faculty ranks may result from women taking longer to advance past associate professor. While statistical reports can isolate trends, they cannot identify reasons why women advance more slowly or suggest solutions for the situation. In this study, we conducted focus groups to learn how women tenured associate professors perceive their status as faculty women and their progress toward advancement to full professor. Questions explored career-related beliefs and practices, feelings about career progress, issues encountered while in the academy, and strategies used to manage these issues. Qualitative analysis of recurring themes and self-narratives of participants suggests that women associate professors are an overlooked or "forgotten" group. Evidence refutes the common wisdom that the number of senior women faculty will grow if more women are hired at the junior levels. Women in the study expressed lack of agency and resignation to their status and felt demoralized based on their experiences in the academy. Recommendations to address the "accumulation of disadvantages" are proposed including consistent application of promotion policies, development of workshops educating women about issues regarding their advancement, and equitable support for the activities of women faculty.
Despite increasing access to some faculty ranks, women faculty members continue to encounter a glass ceiling when it comes to achieving the rank of full professor. In this article, we introduce the 13+ Club Index as a way to understand, document, and resist patterns of non-promotion for women. Despite the utility of metrics for documenting issues in women's advancement, many are difficult to come by and hard to interpret. As a result, women at an institution may feel that they can make no real progress because they do not have access to the data required to make their case. Using the concept of the 13+ Club—the faculty cohorts at an institution who are thirteen or more years past degree—we have developed an index to document patterns of non-promotion that overcomes these difficulties by relying exclusively on publicly accessible data. In the first part of this article, we introduce and describe the 13+ Club Index and detail some of the logistics of acquiring and constructing an index of non-promotion. Then we describe the way we have used this index at Rensselaer first to initiate and then to monitor change. We conclude with thoughts about how the 13+ Club Index can challenge institutions to examine the full scope of improving women's advancement.
To position Canada as a world leader in the "knowledge-based" economy, in 2000, the Canadian government established a multi-million-dollar initiative to appoint 2,000 scholars as Canada Research Chairs (CRC). Women are seriously underrepresented among CRC research "stars," and no data are kept for other equity groups. Eight women initiated a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission in 2003 in an attempt to remedy inequities, and a national discussion has ensued over excellence and equity. We provide a brief outline of the CRC Program and demonstrate how it perpetuates a narrow conception of innovation and excellence, which further institutionalizes inequalities for women and faculty members from other equity groups in Canadian universities. We describe the strategy of the human rights complaint and remedies negotiated in the settlement of 2006. We argue for a broader conceptualization and contextualization of "excellence," and for research not in the private, but the public good.
Reflecting on the legacy of the late Carolyn Heilbrun, and on her own experience as director of Women's Studies at a small liberal arts college, a forty-something feminist academic asks, what did my generation learn about mentoring from the women's studies pioneers who taught us? And what could we do better? Self-awareness, abstinence, and a healthy sense of irony may help.
This report addresses the ADVANCE initiative at Georgia Institute of Technology, aimed at improving the conditions and the chances for advancement of science and engineering women faculty. This initiative, funded by a five-year National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, was motivated by local findings of gender differences in curriculum vitae (CVs), the quality and quantity of mentoring, and the knowledge of and responses to tenure and promotion expectations and requirements. ADVANCE entails covering topics of interest and concern to all faculty, such as case studies of promotion and tenure; training to remove possible subtle gender and racial biases in promotion and tenure decisions; and developing ADEPT, a web program for faculty and administrators, as well as family-friendly policies and various practices that assess, promote, and guide the advancement of women faculty.
This article outlines the negative impact of California's anti-affirmative action initiative, Proposition 209, on the hiring of women faculty members throughout the University of California (UC) system. Martha West viewed with alarm the widening discrepancy between the increasing percentage of women Ph.D.s in the United States and the declining percentage of women faculty hires in the UC system after Prop 209 passed in 1996. The UC data indicated that serious discrimination against women was occurring in the faculty hiring process. Perceiving the urgency of the situation, she and other faculty advocates approached a state legislator for assistance in putting pressure on the UC administration. The legislator initiated a state audit of UC's faculty hiring process and held three hearings in 2001, 2002, and 2003, inviting testimony from faculty and administrators at all nine campuses and the UC's central administration. The proceedings of the hearings, the obstacles faced by faculty women, and recommendations for change are highlighted in this article.