Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Markets for academics denied 

Courtesy Chumley: A group of female faculty members at Harvard think that too many senior (tenured) appointments are going to men:

The proportion of women receiving tenured job offers went from a height of 36 percent during the 2000-2001 academic year to 26 percent in 2001-2002 and then to 19 percent in 2002-2003. Last year, just 4 of 32 tenured spots were offered to women.

...The drop has prompted 26 professors to sign a letter to President Lawrence H. Summers, who has presided over every year of the decline. Summers has agreed to meet next month with the professors.

"There's no question that hiring as many extraordinary women members of the faculty as we can has to be a crucial priority for the university," Summers, who took over as president in 2001, told The Boston Globe in Wednesday's editions.

...Summers said that some of the responsibility lies with Harvard's academic departments. Departments nominate and review candidates for senior jobs, though all must ultimately be approved by him.

Overall, women currently make up 18 percent of Harvard's senior faculty and 34 percent of the junior faculty, proportions similar to those of peer institutions.

I found the Globe article, which contains these amazing statements:
''When you see statistics like that, you have to wonder whether the president of the university takes women scholars seriously," said Ingrid Monson, a music professor who says she did not sign the letter because she was away when it circulated. ''Anybody in academia who has heard these numbers has been shocked."

Must suck to miss the party. The women faculty concede there could be legit.
The letter suggests that Summers may have inadvertently caused the decline simply by failing to highlight the issue, by concentrating new hires in disciplines with fewer women, and by seeking out ''rising young stars," who are more likely to be at an an age when women pause in their careers to have children.

But of course these market reasons are not legitimate, they reason, and therefore things must change. (The article quotes one woman faculty calling these "unintentional biases".)