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Report: Brandeis tenure track shows gender disparities

Published: December 1, 2006
Section: News

The American Association of University Professorss (AAUP) gender equity statistics comparing professor status by gender at various universities, including Brandeis, have been released. The Nov. 3 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education highlighted the AAUPs gendered breakdown comparing different higher education institutions overall salaries, tenure-track status, part-time professor status, and non-track status from 2005 to 2006.

The statistics on Brandeis University reflected some surprising findings, including that Brandeis pays female professors on average 105.2% the salary of male professors. Seemingly, female professors at Brandeis are paid more (or at least the equivalent salary) of male professors. However, this is not wholly the case.

The number is affected by the discipline people happen to be in. On the one hand we have no women in the Computer Science department, but a lot of women are in our biology department, which is a highly paid discipline, stated Dean of Arts and Sciences Adam Jaffe.

A lot of women are also in the English department, which does not pay as well.

It is not comparing apples to apples, Jaffe explained. We [at Brandeis] have historically made special efforts to attract women [professors] and to have them be successful here. Those numbers [of high womens salary] indicate that women have been successful. Pay is based on merit.

However, the AAUP found that only 25.7% of Brandeis's tenured faculty are women, and only 23.3% of full professors are women.

Were not unusual. It is largely historical. Many faculty members were hired in the 1960s and 1970sand not many women were hired into academia at that time, and those numbers are a result of that, stated Jaffe.

According to the AAUP, Tufts University, an institution of comparable size and prestige to Brandeis, has 31.1% women in its tenured faculty, a number higher than Brandeis, but about the same amount of female full professors at 24.3%.

At Brandeis, since part-time faculty was typically hired much more recently, the impact from the trend of few women in academia from the 1960s and 1970s is not as prevalent.

At Brandeis, only 37.6% of full-time professors are women and 62.4% are men, but 49% of the part-time faculty are women and 51% are men.

The more egalitarian part-time faculty ratio is largely affected by discipline differences. The areas with the most part-time faculty members are disciplines where interests vary from year to year such as foreign languages and the arts, which typically have a relatively equal number of men and women.

Professors are hired on the tenure-track, or outside the tenure structure as something like a lecturer or an artist-in-residence. Within the tenure track, a professor is first hired as an assistant professor and then receives tenure once s/he becomes an associate professor. Then a professor may become a full professor, potentially achieving more status and usually higher pay.

Statistics of Brandeiss assistant professors, which were hired at Brandeis within the last six years, reveal that there are slightly more women than men. This number indicates that if these women are given tenure then there will be a more equal gender breakdown of faculty members at Brandeis overall.

The AAUP reported in its Gender Equity Indicator for 2006 that only 25.7% of Brandeiss tenured faculty were women.

Brandeiss success rate of women in the sciences is believed to be an attractor for new assistant professors who come to the science faculty at Brandeis.

One thing that is distinctive about Brandeis is that we have been particularly successful at having women succeed in sciences, explained Jaffe. Many women at other Universities do not make it to tenure.

At Brandeis there are six departments within the sciences, three of which are chaired by women: math, biology, and physics.

Still, the gender breakdown is far from equal, as the current chair of the physics department is the only tenured woman within that department.

Although only 25.7% of our current tenured faculty are women and 74.3% are men, 48.9% of professors are on the tenure track and 51.1% of men are on the tenure track.

Since 2003 Brandeis had 30 male faculty members and 13 female faculty members leave the university due to retirement or seeking a job elsewhere. In most cases, explained Jaffe, the departures were largely due to retirement but the greater number of male (retirees) reflects the male-dominated university environment of the 1960s/1970s.

In that same time frame, Brandeis hired new professors for 51 full-time positions 34 of which were tenure or tenure-track. Of the 51 new professors hired, 30 are men and 21 are women. The net increase is 8% more female faculty and about the same number of male faculty members. This seems to reflect a move towards gender equality in numbers.

In certain fields where were far behind, we probably do make special efforts to recruit women. In final analysis, however, we hire the best person for the position, which isnt based on gender, race, ethnicity, etc., stated Jaffe.

Brandeis aims its recruitment efforts by placing ads for professors in venues where women/minorities will see them. Placement of these ads varies by discipline. For example, in economics, there is a group called the Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession that maintains job listings where Brandeis would be sure to place an ad for an Economics professor opening, explained Jaffe.

Nationally, the AAUP report stated that, women held 44.8 percent of tenure-track positions in 2005-6 and only 31 percent of the tenured positions.

Jaffe responded to these numbers, stating that nationwide, even today, that reflects we havent received gender parity in terms of numbers. I suspect that conceals quite a bit of variation by discipline.

According to Brandeiss Form 990 Disclosure from 2004, which states the top five paid employees other than directors, officers, and trustees, the highest paid professor on campus was James Lackner, the Riklis Professor of Physiology and Director of the Ashton Graybiel Spatial Orientation Laboratory, who was paid $203,733, then Laurence Abbott, a professor within the Biology Department at $201, 817, but the highest paid female professor (the fifth highest paid employee other than directors, officers, and trustees) was Eve Marder of the Biology Department, who was paid only $195, 172.

Jaffe stated that there is not a gendered division by salary on this campus and that he cannot comment on individual salaries.