TENURED POSTS IN TOP SOCIOLOGY DEPARTMENTS
Judith Glazer-Raymo (1999) reviews the progress made by women in American higher education generally. In part, this advance was due to the growth of women’s studies courses and degree programmes. By 1995 The National Women’s Studies Association had more than 600 women’s studies programmes in higher education listed. However, women were making progress in all disciplines, particularly by gaining the entry qualification to academic life: the doctorate. Some 47 per cent of the PhDs earned by Americans in America in 1994 went to women. In 1995, 16,333 women got PhDs – nearly 10 times more than in 1965 (1,760). In Social Sciences (not including education or psychology) 487 women got PhDs in 1969-70 and 1,313 in 1993-4 going up from 12.6 per cent to 36.1 per cent. The breakdown of social science reveals that women are 61 per cent of the anthropology PhDs, 51 per cent of those in sociology, 27.8 per cent in politics and 24.3 per cent in economics. The fact that women gained 51 per cent of the PhDs awarded to Americans in America in 1995 shows a rapid rise.
However, it is not clear that the increased female percentage of the qualified pool of labour will turn into an equal proportion of women actually holding academic jobs. In the American system there are two types of job: casual versus tenure-track and tenured. Gaining a tenure – track position does not, in itself lead to tenure (Clark et al., 1996). The three grades of posts that matter are assistant professor, associate professor and full professor. Across all the types of higher education in the USA, in sociology, in 1991 women were 29 per cent of all tenured and tenure-tracked posts. However, 46 per cent of the assistant professors were women, 30 per cent of the associate professors and 20 per cent of the full professors. So there were few full professors (Glazer-Raymo, 1999). Even where women sociologists have achieved some parity of appointments in the discipline, they may well be employed in lower status institutions where there are no PhD students to be supervised. In the USA, departments vary widely in prestige, and the institutions themselves are in a hierarchy from community colleges which offer only two years of teaching through places that offer only a bachelor’s degree and
do not have graduate schools through to the elite universities with big doctoral programmes. Women were concentrated in the lower tiers, and relatively scarce in tenured posts in the top two tiers (Glazer-Raymo, 1999). The hierarchy of American higher education institutions is shown below, most prestigious first:
1 Fortune 100 research universities
2 Other doctoral and master’s-granting universities
3 Comprehensive universities
4 Liberal arts colleges
5 Community colleges
In 1970, the USA had 2,525 higher education institutions (HEIs) with 450,000 academic staff, of whom 23 per cent were women. By 1993 there were 3,632 HEIs, with 933,373 staff, 38.7 per cent female. Of the 554,903 full-time staff, 33.5 per cent were female. Between 1975 and 1993 women as a percentage of full professors rose 9.6 per cent to 17.2 per cent. Women still spend more time teaching (58 per cent) than men (46 per cent) and less time on research (16 per cent to 27 per cent) – probably because more women are employed in teaching only HEIs: the lower tiers of the hierarchy. Part-time (PT) and non-tenure-track (NTT) staff do large amounts of teaching in all types of HEI, and it is in those grades that women are concentrated. Women are 33 per cent of tenure – track (TT) faculty and their tenure rate is only 48 per cent compared to men’s 72 per cent. That is, women are less likely than men to get tenure.
Progress for women in the USA would ideally mean the best women getting tenure in the elite schools, such as Berkeley, Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Stanford and Chicago. In the discipline of sociology there has been only a small amount of progress since feminist sociology began, partly because the elite schools had, typically, no tenured women in 1968. At Chicago no woman had ever been tenured in the Sociology Department when feminist sociology became established in the late 1960s. The changes began with Rita Simon, in 1978, who was also the first woman to edit AYR. In 1993-4 Chicago had 20 tenured men and four tenured women. The Berkeley Sociology Department was founded in 1948. It awarded 126 PhDs between 1952 and 1972, 32 to women. These were the department’s golden years, because it was rated the top sociology department in the USA in 1964 and 1969 (Orlans and Wallace, 1994). Berkeley sociology grew after Blumer came from Chicago in 1952. Then it had only nine staff, whereas by 1964 it had 36. From 1948 to 1970 no woman was hired in a tenure-track position. (A few women had temporary posts as NTT adjuncts.) In 1997 women were 12.5 per cent of the tenured faculty at Harvard, 13.3 per cent at Stanford, and 13.8 per cent at Yale (Laslett and Thorne, 1997).
The slow progress of women into tenured posts, especially tenured posts at elite schools, can be traced in the three volumes of published autobiographies. Laslett and Thorne edited a collection, Feminist Sociology, published in 1997, with 11 autobiographical essays. It followed two earlier collections by Goetting and Fenstermaker (1995) and Orlans and Wallace (1994) which used ‘gender’ and ‘women’, rather than the ‘f’ word. The Laslett and Thorne volume was thought important enough to get two reviews in the ASA’s review journal Contemporary Sociology (Hess, 1999; Whittier, 1999). Laslett and Thorne provided essays themselves and commissioned chapters from Evelyn Nakano Glenn, Judith Stacey, Joan Acker, Susan Krieger, Sarah Fenstermaker, Marjorie De Vault, Desley Deacon, the three women who founded The Center for Research on Women at Memphis University (Weber, Higgenbottom and Dill), and one man, R. W. Connell. I have discussed Connell’s contribution to feminist sociology in Chapter 7 on the malesteam. Of 46 autobiographical essays by women, it is striking that only 23 are by women who are full professors in elite American universities. Many of the others taught in lower status places, such as community colleges, and/or never achieved tenure at all.
Britain is rather different from the USA, both in the nature of the higher education system, and in the lack of published analyses of women’s position in and contribution to the discipline. Whereas in the USA there has been a stream of analyses of the place of women in the discipline, Britain has not had that introspection. The status of universities and other HEIs is a matter of tacit, expert knowledge, and in theory, all universities are equal, in that all have the right to award doctorates. However, there are competitions between them for students, for staff, for grants, for prestige, and most of all for research rankings in the quinquennial Research Assessment Exercises. There is evidence that knowledge and understanding of the hierarchies in British higher education are pervasive among large employers (Brown and Scase, 1994) but very unequally spread across potential students and their parents (Pugsley, 1998). Working-class families have little understanding of status differences between HEIs, and suffer symbolic violence at every stage from application to employment after graduation. In the early days of Third Wave feminism there were detailed analyses of women’s place in universities (e. g. Acker and Warren Piper, 1984; Blackstone and Fulton, 1975; Rendel, 1980), although they rarely looked down the data to the level of individual subjects such as sociology. Recently, such work has become sparse, and there is nothing of the detail of the American self-scrutiny. For the 2001 RAE all the data are being made public, and it would be possible for a study looking at the percentage of tenured women in the top ranked sociology departments,
or to investigate whether women were less likely to be returned in the RAE than men. (There were rumours and press stories of this modern exclusion in the months before the 2001 submissions were made.)
It is true that across all the HEIs in Britain women are clustered in temporary posts, in research posts, in part-time work, and in the lower ranks (Lecturer A and B) of the tenured jobs. There is no reason to believe that sociology has a different pattern from other disciplines. It would be possible to count the women returned as research active in the 2001 RAE to give some measure of female involvement in the discipline, but there is no equivalent base figure for 1961, or 1971. However, this research has not been done for publication. The government statistics for higher education publish the data for groups of subjects, making it impossible to disentangle sociology from some allied social sciences. In Britain, in 2000, 11.9 per cent of the full professors in administrative, business and social studies were women. It is not possible to disaggregate this figure except by checking staff lists in every individual HEI. So the official statistical data are not being mined for feminist analysis on the position of women in the discipline. Nor has Britain produced the range and variety of published autobiographical essays by women, or men, which would enable the statistics to be fleshed out.
It would be illuminating to take the ‘top’ departments – for example, the LSE – and see when women got tenure and when they got professorships. However, whereas in the USA there are departments with century-long histories, the discipline in Britain is much younger, and few departments are more than 50 years old.