REPRESENTATION OF WOMEN IN DEPARTMENTS
The committee hypothesized having a larger proportion of women in a department might be taken by female potential applicants as a signal of a “woman – friendly” department. Thus, the percentage of women applicants would be expected to be positively correlated with the percentage of women already on the faculty. However, prior research indicated this relationship may not have been linear. In their study of 93 academic positions, Yoder et al. (1989) found “departments with more than half women did not appear to be very willing to hire additional women, while departments with moderate numbers of women were. Ironically, departments with few or no women were almost as unlikely as departments numerically dominated by women to hire a woman” (p. 272). Yoder et al. explained this outcome by noting, in departments with few female faculty, women had little power to influence group decision making, a version of the critical mass hypothesis. In departments with some women—between 16 and 35 percent, women could form alliances and coalitions to influence the group. When women achieved balance in a department, job hires became less about equity, and men and women were hired at equal rates.