the more things change, the more they stay the same

At least when it comes to the numbers of women in philosophy in US departments with doctoral programs. The list “Tenured/tenure-track faculty women at 98 U.S. doctoral programs in philosophy” has been updated. For the 2011 version, look here.

With some provisos (the information is only as accurate as department websites, for example) the totals look like this:

Total number of tenured/tenure-track faculty at Top-51 Doctoral Programs in the 2011 Gourmet Report: 1018

Number of women on tenured/tenure-track appointments at Top-51 Doctoral Programs in Gourmet Report: 224

Percentage of women on tenured/tenure-track appointments at Top-51 Doctoral Programs in Gourmet Report: 20.00%

Thanks Julie Van Camp for doing this.

9 thoughts on “the more things change, the more they stay the same

  1. thanks Julie Van Camp! I think it is worth noting something about the issue of some websites being out of date (which Van Camp notes). It seems to me most websites that are out of date are unintentionally out of date and so there isn’t any reason to think that the resulting errors will lead to underestimates of the number of women any more than it will lead to underestimates of the number of men.

    It would be very interesting to see a tenure v tenure-track breakdown but I realize there are problems with this insofar as the meaning of institutional titles varies somewhat (some Associate Professors do not have tenure). Maybe this variances is small enough not to be a problem though.

    I ask because, among other reasons, when TT and tenured positions are lumped together it is, as we know, hard to separate what is the result of past bias and what is the result of contemporary bias. By looking just at TT hires you limit it to a 5-6 year window.

  2. Just to save some head-scratching: How does the math work here?

    The summary seems to say:

    > Total number of [tenured/tenure-track faculty at Top-51 Doctoral Programs
    > in the 2011 Gourmet Report]: 1018
    > Number of women [as ditto] : 224
    > Percentage of women [as ditto]: 20.00%

    But then I get 22% as the ratio… is there something going on with FTE calculations or some other variable that explains the lower 20% figure?

  3. Thanks for this, and thanks to Julie for doing this.

    I very much agree with Peter Kirwan’s remark that “It would be very interesting to see a tenure v tenure-track breakdown”, for another reason: a worry that there is a lot of resistance at the promotion to tenure point.

    The reason that it would be useful if the untenured tenure-track faculty members and tenured faculty members could be tallied separately is that it would tell us whether things are even worse than these numbers say, as I suspect it would. I suspect it is not uncommon for departments to deal with criticisms of gender bias by hiring women into untenured slots to stave off criticism by increasing the percentage of women on the faculty — they get credit for having hired women, even if they are not promoting women to tenure on the same criteria used for men.

    A senior woman philosopher commented to me a few years ago that she thought male philosophers liked having young woman philosophers around to condescend to (this was in the context of a point she was making that it was much harder for women to get tenure than it was for men). I realized then that:
    (i) It is quite consistent with implicit bias to keep hiring woman into tenure-track positions where they are put under more scrutiny and criticism and are more easily denied tenure than their male counterparts, and
    (ii) this strategy of raising the percentage of female to male philosophers actually creates another _very_ misleading statistic, as it increases the ratio of female-to-male “hires” whenever a female is denied tenure/ reappointment and is replaced with another female (but the male counterpart is reappointed and granted tenure).

  4. Some closely related things to consider

    1) A group of people including Valerie Tiberius from The Society for Philosophy and Psychology should be coming out with a relevant APA funding study soon. They are being tight lipped on details of the study but say they have finished it and are in process of submitting it to places.

    2) Solomon and Clarke’s 2007 JFP study has women being hired to tenure track jobs at a rate proportionate to their share of Phds (around 27%) for that year.

    In the absence of better stats, we are all shooting in the dark somewhat. For what it is worth, though, my best guess is that something similar to what Anonymous is talking about may be going on where we get a lot of women coming in at TT level and then getting disproportionately turned down for tenure).

    This is obviously just one year which is why I would really like to see the Leiter tenure-track hires coded

    3) Earlier this year I coded Leiter Report senior hires for the USA between 2003-2011 and got the following results

    • Total Reported USA Hires 245
    Male 190
    Female 55
    Percentage Female 22.4%

    o How many women in the senior pool?

    Richard Zach’s analysis of the National Digest of Educational Statistics number put the overall number of women in full time philosophy is between 9.3% and 23%

    Data from Eric Schwitzgebel’s voting study puts the number of women in senior positions in California, Florida, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Washington State at 21.5%

    So taking into account a combination of earlier sexism and a probable pipeline issue we should expect the number at the top of the profession to be significantly lower than 23%

    So our best guess at the number of women in the senior pool is < 23% and the number of senior hires from the Leiter data is 22.4% which is at least proportionate to the number of women in the pool.

    This is all very very rough and I would be happier than anyone to replace it with better statistics. Obviously Leiter senior hires are not all the hires in the discipline and there are various problems with using them as data points in this way.

    Doubtlessly these numbers will be misused by some people (to suggest there is no problem with bias in the discipline) but it seems that it would be intellectually dishonest of me to only reported the results when they straightforwardly support my own political agenda (which is that there is serious bias and some sort of intervention is needed).

    It would great if someone else would do the same with the tenure track Leiter hires. Surely there is some enthusiastic undergrad who doesn't sleep/has no life?

  5. Peter and all,
    Something about the “senior hires” line of thought is worth reviewing: What we don’t know is how often senior hires amount to musical chairs — a senior woman leaves one position and takes up another. In such cases, what looks like improved gender balance in one department is balanced by poor retention of women in the other. Also, we’d want to know what the *applicant pool* is for senior hires (those who are more or less actively on the lookout for a different position), and this is not the same as the total population of senior faculty…

  6. We’re getting more women faculty in Manila as far as philosophy is concerned. Used to be you’d have to be a nun! So you could just imagine the content of that curriculum. Things are changing slowly here because I have heard that there are still educational institutions (not the university I’m working for) that discriminate against women, giving them lower pay for the same rank and teaching load.
    Sometimes I wonder if that is a hangover from expecting nuns to teach at the college level plus the religious orders involved in our educational institutions.

  7. Elf, musical chairs is good for the players, though. (They get substantial raises.)

    In any case, I think Peter was suggesting that the percentage of women senior hires is a good *sign* rather than a good *thing*. Put it this way: if the percentage of recent senior hires who are men were 95%, that would be a very bad sign.

  8. Again, to be totally clear, I was as surprised as anyone at these figures and I am NOT saying there is no problem with bias against women in the discipline. I think there is a problem and that it is very extensive.

    These stats are just a few pieces of evidence in the middle of a larger pictures which includes everything we know about implicit bias, stereotype threat, explicit bias and history.

    To focus only on the Solomon and Clarke and the Leiter senior hires would (obviously) be a mistake.

    Hopefully the SPP with Tiberius will provide more quantitative context!

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