Female professors at Yale are on par with their counterparts at peer institutions in terms of receiving tenure, but not in terms of their paychecks, according to a report released Thursday by the American Association of University Professors.
According to the Faculty Gender Equity Indicators 2006 report, 20.2 percent of tenured professors at Yale are female, and women hold 40.8 percent of tenure track jobs. Harvard and Princeton have similar proportions of female tenured professors, but lower percentages of women on the tenure track — 34.4 percent and 29.9 percent, respectively. The AAUP report also indicated that female professors at Yale earn less than their male counterparts at every professorial rank.
Jon Butler, the dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, said substantially lower numbers of tenured women than men are not unique to Yale. Butler said the ongoing tenure review will likely propose changes to try to reduce the gender gap in the faculty.
“This is a problem that all American universities have and that we are trying to rectify,” he said.
The data presented in the report were generated from the AAUP’s 2005-06 Faculty Compensation Survey. The report includes information on all “full-time instructional faculty” — not including administrators, librarians, counselors and medical school faculty — from institutions that responded to the survey. The data in the report fell into four separate indicator categories: employment status, tenure status, full professor rank and average salary of women as a percentage of average male salary.
Women Faculty Forum Research Director Kate Ott said the tenure numbers show a trend among women at major research universities that could have a lot to do with family life.
“Something happens in the pipeline between becoming junior faculty and becoming senior faculty,” she said. “That could be all kinds of factors, but obviously it does coincide with the time in one’s life when you usually are choosing to have a family or your family is suddenly requiring more of your time.”
She said universities must employ creative solutions, such as the child care and baby-sitting services that the WFF has been trying to improve at Yale.
The report’s data on faculty salaries showed that women who are tenured professors at Yale earn an average salary that is 92.4 percent of the average for male tenured professors. For associate professors, the ratio is 90.9 percent, and for assistant professors it is 94.1 percent.
Physics Department chair Ramamurti Shankar said that although the number of tenured women is low overall, the fact that the salaries of female professors are lower than those of their male peers makes sense in context, because salary differences often can be attributed more to age, not gender. He said female professors tend to be younger than male professors, so men tend to make more money on average.
But Shankar said he thinks these numbers have already started to change and will do so even more rapidly in coming years because the administration has committed resources to hiring women and underrepresented minorities.
For example, he said, the number of female professors in the Physics Department — which Shankar said has one of the most serious gender disparities — has grown from one to four in the past five years. Although the numbers themselves are low, the growth rate is very impressive, Shankar said. The situation is especially hopeful given the growing percentage of female undergraduates, who will soon make up for what seems to be a dearth of women in academia, he said.
“Just give [women] five years, and they’re going to rule the world, and we’ll do the numbers again,” Shankar said. “I think the situation is going to change, and we’re going to be a big part of the solution.”
English professor Elizabeth Dillon, a member of the WFF’s Steering Committee, said the numbers presented in the study cannot be used effectively to compare Yale with other schools because the University does not have a tenure track, instead hiring on a contract basis. She said the AAUP is putting Yale professors into a category that does not exist.
The report shows that female professors in the Ivy League are relatively equal in terms of both tenure and salary, Dillon said, but collectively fall below the averages for doctoral institutions around the country. The numbers are important because they could serve as a “wake-up call” for these institutions, she said.
“I think it’s very valuable to continue to put these statistics and these indices in front of people’s eyes so that no one imagines that the question of gender equity is a thing of the past,” Dillon said. “The problems really require concentrated efforts to rethink the systems that have kept gender inequality in place.”
The study reported that in addition to Harvard and Princeton, Yale is also ahead of Stanford, Columbia, Duke, Brown, the University of Chicago and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in terms of the proportion of tenure-track professors who are women, but is behind all of these schools, except for Chicago, in terms of salary parity. The University of Connecticut stands out as having a higher percentage of women on track for tenure than does Yale, at 47.6 percent, and more women in the ranks of tenured professors, at 27.6 percent.