Recommendations for Institutions
Research I institutions should:
1. Design and implement new programs and policies to increase the number of women applying for tenure-track or tenured positions and evaluate existing programs for effectiveness. This includes enhancing institutional efforts to encourage female graduates and postdocs to consider careers at RI institutions. In each of the six disciplines studied, women were underrepresented in the applicant pool relative to their representation in the pool of recent Ph. D.s (Finding 3-3). This critical gap must be narrowed to expand the number of female faculty in research-intensive institutions. Most departments reported using a very small arsenal of recruitment strategies (targeted advertising was the most cited), and 43 percent reported using only one strategy (see Finding 3-7). Significant change in the applicant pool will not come from such minimal efforts.
2. Involve current female faculty in faculty searches, with appropriate release time. The proportion of women on the search committee and whether a woman chaired the committee were both significantly and positively associated with the proportion of women in the applicant pool (see Finding 3-8). Such engagement may signal to prospective hires that the institutional climate is supportive and inclusive.
3. Investigate why female faculty, compared to their male counterparts, appear to continue to experience some sense of isolation in subtle and intangible ways. Finding 4-7, for example, reports that female faculty are less likely to engage with other faculty in conversations about research or salary. Creating informal opportunities for faculty to engage within a department or across an institution might help to address this issue.
4. Explore gender differences in the obligations outside of professional responsibilities (particularly family-related obligations) and how these differences may affect the professional outcomes of their faculty. Our findings focused only on the climate within academic institutions, but factors outside the institutional environment may be equally important. (Findings 4-6 through 4-8).
5. Initiate mentoring programs for all newly hired faculty, especially at the assistant professor level. As described in Finding 4-12, the mentoring of female faculty had a striking impact on their ability to secure grant funding. Institutional mentoring programs could help to ensure that female faculty acquire grant funding, which in turn should have a positive effect on their promotion rates.
6. Make tenure and promotion procedures as transparent as possible and ensure that policies are routinely and effectively communicated to all faculty. While 81 percent of male faculty know their institution’s policies on promotion, only 75 percent of female faculty do (see Finding 5-5). Departments in particular need to review their communication strategies, as only 49 percent of all faculty surveyed reported that their department had written procedures. And only 78 percent of departments reported that they had written tenure and promotion policies.
7. Monitor and evaluate stop-the-tenure-clock policies and their impact on faculty retention and advancement. Where such policies are not already in place, adopt them and ensure effective dissemination to faculty members.
Only 78 percent of assistant professors reported that their department or university had a formal family or personal leave policy that allows stopping or extending the tenure clock. At those institutions that do, 19.7 percent of female and 7.4 percent of male assistant professors avail themselves of these policies, as well as 10.2 percent of female and 6.4 percent of male associate professors (see Finding 5-10). As use of these policies will likely grow, institutions need to review the careers of faculty who use these policies to understand their impact on career progress.
8. Collect data encompassed in this study (including applications, interviews, first offers, hires, time in rank, tenure award, and promotion) disaggregated by race, ethnicity, and gender. Many of the departments surveyed have made significant gains in their numbers of female faculty at many of these critical junctures, yet these results are not well known. The collection of data can allow departments and institutions to focus their scarce resources on transitions that need the most attention. Also, our findings do not address race and ethnicity, but this information is essential as institutions work to increase diversity.