According to never-before-seen data on junior faculty hiring trends and tenure rates among women and underrepresented minorities, the last 10 years have been a “lost decade” in Yale’s ongoing push for faculty diversity.
A new draft report by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Senate — which includes newly compiled statistics from the Office of Institutional Research, a survey of current FAS professors and a historical analysis of diversity initiatives at the University since the late 1960s — paints a stark contrast between the “golden years” of 1999 to 2006, when faculty diversity was a top priority, and the last 10 years. Anthropology professor Doug Rogers, who serves on the senate subcommittee that authored the report, said the statistics show dramatically increasing faculty diversity in the early 2000s, and just as dramatically decreasing diversity since the 2008 financial crisis. The report also found through its survey that faculty members’ experiences of Yale’s academic climate differ significantly based on gender and ethnicity.
“Rather than any overt ill will, we see an accumulated pattern of thousands of small decisions at all levels — decisions that persistently, if largely unconsciously, have cast the diversity of the faculty as a lower priority in times of strict budgetary priorities set at the highest levels of the University,” the subcommittee wrote.
The subcommittee, chaired by classics professor and senate executive council member Emily Greenwood, was created in January 2016 to report on the issue of diversity and inclusion in the FAS, with a particular focus on ladder faculty. Because the report is currently in draft form, it is not publicly available, but the committee shared a draft with the News.
The report highlighted a comparison between former University President Richard Levin’s 1999 faculty diversity plan, and subsequent years during which other, less successful diversity initiatives were implemented. From 1999 to 2004, while the size of the Yale faculty expanded by 10 percent, minority faculty in the FAS grew by 30 percent and women faculty in the FAS grew by 43 percent. The number of women faculty in sciences in the FAS also grew by 113 percent.
But that successful push was stunted and virtually reversed after the 2008 financial crisis, when University leadership shifted its budgetary focus to austerity and placed faculty diversity on the back burner. The newly available statistics show that the austerity measures disproportionately affected women and underrepresented-minority, also known as URM, assistant professors.
Although women have received an ever-increasing share of all the Ph.D.s granted in the last decade, the number of women hired as assistant professors at Yale has remained largely constant over the same period, at roughly 40 percent of new hires. Additionally, between 2000 and 2004, 14 percent of assistant professors hired were URM, but that number dropped to 10 percent between 2005-2009. URM hiring is harder to track after 2012 due to the introduction of a federal requirement that allows faculty to self-report race or ethnicity; some newer faculty did not report a race or ethnicity.
“Things become a little murky after 2012,” Rogers said. “So we have to guess a little on the trends after 2012. In the very best-case scenario we see, however, we are moving back to 2006 levels of underrepresented minority junior faculty in some divisions and some departments … We’ve lost a decade.”
An analysis of the overall junior faculty body, not just new hires, mirrors the recent stagnation in diversity efforts.
The report also contains new statistics about tenure rates broken down by gender, URM background and FAS division for all cohorts of assistant professors hired since 1985. Tenure rates for women in the FAS as a whole have consistently been 3 to 6 percent lower than they have been for men.
Although the report shows a nearly identical tenure rate for URM and non-URM assistant professors — 21 and 20 percent, respectively — this number could be skewed due to the small number of URM faculty members as well as the new self-reporting policy. The number may still prove relatively accurate, though, as most professors hired after the policy change have yet to come up for tenure review.
Rogers said the data provided, although extensive, did not allow the committee to fully discuss the issue of retention, especially in recent years. The committee recommended that the FAS dean’s office collect and analyze departmen t-level data and trends, rather than just aggregate data, as the latter may mask imbalances in tenure rates within different departments.
While the report’s historical and statistical analyses focus on faculty hiring and retention, the senate’s survey of over 300 professors helps shed light on more qualitative aspects of climate and experience for faculty members. The survey results show that faculty’s reported levels of satisfaction diverge sharply based on gender, race and gender within division. Levels of dissatisfaction are highest among female faculty; faculty who identify as black, Latino or Asian/Asian-American; and nonladder faculty.
A majority of women and faculty of color said they sometimes, often or always felt excluded from informal networks within the faculty, that they had to work harder to be perceived as legitimate scholars and that they were burdened by more service responsibilities than their colleagues.
“A recurring theme in the literature on diversity in higher education is that numbers and headcounts of underrepresented faculty only tell part of the story,” Greenwood said. “In order for universities to better tackle inclusion, they need to understand and attend to how underrepresented faculty experience Yale at the departmental and divisional level.”
Beyond the immediate analysis of the statistics and survey, the report also highlighted the importance of diversity statistics in general.
The committee wrote that Yale does not systematically collect or analyze various kinds of data about the composition of the FAS. For the senate report, the OIR had to break down existing statistics in a way that it had never done before.
“We believe this lack of systematic data is a serious obstacle to attempts to diversify the faculty,” the committee wrote. “In many cases, Yale’s lack of publicly available data has not been an issue of unreleased data … but rather a lack of systematically tracking or calculating those data in the first place.”
To combat the lack of systematic data collection, the committee recommends that the FAS dean’s office begin tracking and publicly reporting on multiple dimensions of faculty compositions and diversity. This effort may involve the design and implementation of new systems for tracking faculty careers and “vectors of inflow and outflow at each critical juncture of a career.”
The report also contained a shorter section on how faculty diversity and inclusivity impacts the experiences of graduate students at the University.