Women Winning in Academia, Except for Tenure and Pay

Cristen Conger

Women have outpaced men in academia, comprising a higher percentage of college students and, as of recently, earning more PhDs. But a gender gap persists at the instructor level. In general, male professors are more likely to gain tenure and enjoy higher salaries. The tenure issue is of particular concern, especially in the sciences where women are still underrepresented. For instance, in 2007, only 1 in 25 faculty members granted tenure at MIT was a woman. Since the tenure track often intersects with the "mommy track", striking around the age when women are raising children, putting in those extra research hours can be a major feat to accomplish. And with tenure comes higher pay, which partially accounts for the gender pay gap in academia.

The most recent report from the National Center for Education Statistics at the Department of Education indicates that more women are climbing higher up the academic ladders and becoming professors, but they're still being paid less than their male colleagues. Campus Progress editor Kay Steiger dissected the report and highlighted these mixed bag statistics.

...during this period, the percentage change in the number of professors was higher for women. For example, the number of men at public institutions decreased by 4 percent while the number of women increased by 24 percent; at private not-for-profit institutions, the number of men increased by 1 percent and the number of women increased by 26 percent.


...there's still a pay gap between what men and women earn in pretty much every instructor level at pretty much every type of school.

We're talking a roughly $15,000 per year gap between male and female professors at public and private 4-year institutions, which is nothing to sneeze at. Steiger isn't surprised by the data, for a couple of key reasons. More men pursue sciences at public research universities, which fetch higher paychecks to lure them away from profitable positions at private companies. And, as I mentioned earlier, tenure eludes many women, no matter their field. Conversely, a majority of those tweed-clad tenured male professors are married with children.

Someone say leaky pipeline?

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