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  • Introduction:Women, Tenure, and Promotion
  • Ines S. Shaw, Sharon Leder, and Betty J. Harris

This special issue of the NWSA Journal focuses on several key challenges women faculty face in higher education—obtaining tenure-track positions and tenure; contending with gender and racial prejudice and biases that foster inequality and inequity in treatment, recognition, and rewards; advancing through the academic ranks on a timely basis; breaking the academic glass ceiling by reaching the rank of full professor; and achieving parity in representation at different ranks. In their groundbreaking studies of the "chilly climate" for women, Bernice Sandler and Roberta Hall (1982; 1984; 1986) identified characteristics of campus cultures that affect women and institutional barriers to women's equal participation and success in higher education. Sandler and Hall paved the way for many of the changes that have improved the campus climate for women and their opportunities to succeed. Affirmative action and legal measures have provided women and minorities with greater access to higher education and have allowed faculty to fight against different types of employment discrimination.

Nevertheless, academic discrimination on the basis of race, sex, and other categories covered by law has persisted, and the obstacles women still face have become more complex. Many changes have not been adequately implemented and monitored, and others have not been sufficient to prevent women faculty members' careers from being thrown off course. Family formation often coincides with the assistant or the associate professor phases of their careers, creating formidable challenges as they attempt to balance the requirements of tenure and first promotion with the demands arising from family responsibilities. Not infrequently, women faculty are stymied by inadequate mentoring, exclusion from the departmental culture, and institutional policies and tenure and promotion requirements shaped to suit the ideal male worker. Moreover, although tenure-track positions are preferable for the advantages of salary and security they provide, as well as their promise of academic freedom, the number of contingent positions with less security and lower pay, staffed primarily by women, has been gradually increasing.

The authors in this volume have written articles and reports that offer various analyses and solutions for these and many other problems and challenges, suggesting ways for the academy to welcome, retain, tenure, promote, and equitably reward women faculty. To acquaint readers with the articles, reports, and book reviews included in this volume, the Introduction is divided into three sections: (1) Issues Before and Leading to Tenure and First Promotion; (2) Issues after Tenure; and (3) Women's Future in Higher Education: Directions for Future Research. In the first [End Page vii] section, Sharon Leder introduces readers to articles and reports that focus on hiring, tenure, and first promotion. In the second section, Ines S. Shaw introduces readers to articles and reports that focus primarily on issues after tenure. In addition, Shaw discusses articles and reports mentioned in the first section of the introduction to highlight aspects of these works that are relevant to the promotion to associate professor and full professor. In the third section, Betty J. Harris focuses on several points deserving of attention and future research, referring to previously mentioned articles and reports, as well as to book reviews. While some of the same articles and reports are discussed in each section of the introduction, each discussion is framed according to a different stage of the academic career or to the need for future research on women, tenure, and promotion.

The eight full-length articles included in this special issue of the NWSA Journal track the journeys of women in academia—first as they prepare for tenure and first promotion; then as they consider moving to the ranks of associate and full professor and compete for honors and awards. The first series of five articles includes two first-person narratives by faculty preparing for tenure, a legal scholar's account of the subtle biases that affect a woman faculty member's tenure journey, a study of bias that influences teaching evaluations, and an analysis of how the larger labor market affects the granting of tenure to women in academia. The second series of three articles includes two campus-based studies of factors slowing down women's advancement to the...


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pp. vii-viii
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