Commission sheds light on female professors

Recent studies conducted by the University Commission on Women show that compared to other universities, the number of female faculty members at both the associate and full professor level is lacking.

According to a 2012 Status on Women Report conducted by the UCW, women are underrepresented as tenure or tenure-track faculty at universities across the nation.

“At the assistant professor level, the male-to-female ratio is about 1:1,” said Beverly McPhail, director of the Women’s Resource Center and longtime secretary to the UCW. “At the associate professor level, male-to-female is about 2:1, and at the full professor level, the male-to-female ratio is 6:1.”

The University Commission on Women is responsible for informing and advising President Khator and other senior administrative leaders, as well as the general university community, on issues and concerns that have an impact on women at the University.

“The Commission is currently investigating and benchmarking policies and practices with peer institutions and also aligning our accomplishments and mission with Universities Strategic Initiatives,” said Vince Lee, a newly appointed member of the Commission.

In 2007, approximately 62.4 percent of the faculty members at United States public four-year institutions were male and 37.6 percent were female, according to the U.S. Department of Education in 2007. At UH, 71.2 percent were male and 28.8 percent were female since Fall 2010, according to the Office of Institutional Research in 2010.

“To me, the gender gap in attaining full professor rank is probably the most striking,” said Aimee Chin, associate professor at the Department of Economics and chair member of one of the subgroups of the UCW, the Children on Campus Committee.

“I am an economist who spends considerable time teaching and using statistical methods to separate causal relationships from mere correlations,” she said, “so I very much understand that many factors underlie these observed gender gaps reported there.  But the decrease in percentage of females from the entry level to top level is quite dramatic, and one has to ask what can be done to develop and retain talented female faculty.”

Differences in the numbers of faculty members, both male and female, are not the only staggering statistic UH women currently face.

“The numbers presented in the report also show that men on average out-earn women in almost every category,” McPhail said.

On average, male faculty at UH earn $109,566, whereas the mean salary for female faculty is $89,250, according to Croft & Barlow, 2011. Data from UH Human Resources indicate that salary differences are greatest between male and female full professors, with males earning an average of $1,780 per month more than females.

Differences between the mean monthly salaries for assistant and associate professors were nonetheless still notable, with male associates earning approximately $566 more than females, and male assistants earning approximately $477 more than females.

The Commission is constantly working toward the goal of equality of opportunities for women on campus. Through sponsoring workshops to bring women at UH closer together, advocating for a new child care facility on campus with expanded evening and weekend hours and working toward domestic partner benefits for faculty, the commission is dedicated to helping women succeed.

“We are a hardworking and active commission that is trying to make a difference at UH,” McPhail said. “A Tier One university should be a place of equality and opportunity for all.”

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