Women Tenured At A Higher Rate Than Men?:
The Daily Princetonian has an interesting story on gender and tenure in Princeton's humanities and social sciences departments. Of particular interest: It seems that women faculty members in the humanities and social sciences at Princeton receive tenure more often then men. According to a recent report,
34 percent of women hired as assistant professors in the humanities and social sciences eventually gain tenure, compared to 27 percent of men. The difference is due to the significantly higher number of women in the social sciences who receive tenure: 42 percent of women compared to just 23 percent of men. The humanities were more evenly divided, with 33 percent of men and 30 percent of women receiving tenure.
  It's a surprising result, I think. I wonder if the same is true at other universities, to the extent there is any data on this question. Any thoughts?

  UPDATE: Note that the AALS has some data on such questions in the context of law schools, available here.
Given that the article clearly specifies that women only gain tenure at a higher rate in the social sciences (and actually have a lower rate in the humanities), then why have a potentially misleading sentence like "women faculty members in the humanities and social sciences at Princeton receive tenure more often than men"?
10.7.2005 5:08pm
Another interesting statistic presented in the Daily Princetonian article:

"Once promoted to senior professors, women are twice as likely as male senior professors to leave the University — 2.8 percent per year versus 1.4 percent. The report gave no explanation for this phenomenon."

I haven't read the original report from the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, so I don't know if it is statistically significant.
10.7.2005 5:16pm
MarcL (mail):

I'm not sure that that difference is statistically significant with the sample size, but an explanation might be that once given the imprimatur of senior professors, women faculty are that much more vulnerable to theft by departments who wish to acheive numerical gender parity.

There is no question that in hiring and tenure committees there is pressure to hire women and minorities (except Asians.) This pressure comes from the administration and from committee members themselves.
10.7.2005 5:24pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I would ask why give tenure in the first place to someone in esp. the humanities, given all of the underemployed PhDs in that area today. Seems like a big waste of money to me.

Besides, you run the chance that you might want to get rid of them. Here, in CO, we have someone hired without a PhD because he claimed to be a Native-American, then tenured far quicker than ususal. Now, it turns out that he probably isn't Native-American (by blood), and is a serial plagerist, and they are having a really hard time getting rid of him because of his tenure. Oh, and he called those who died on 9/11 "Little Eichmans" or some such thing.
10.7.2005 5:34pm
anonymous coward:
Drawing conclusions from the article is unwise. It doesn't have the raw data by social science department; sub-specialty may be relevant as well.

If they're beefing up programs that have a disproportiate number of women among qualified candidates--surprise!--women will be tenured at a higher rate than men. (Tenure rates are higher when a university feels its department needs to be larger; lower when they feel it is too large already.)

Note: "the percentage of women in individual departments ranging from 10 to 57.1 percent." Is that 57.1% department, and similar, growing or stagnant?
10.7.2005 5:48pm
The article is near useless without comparing tenure rates to some measure of quality. For instance, acceptance rates to colleges alone are misleading. Two schools with similar acceptance rates may differ vastly in quality.

Someone should compare the men and women tenured by certain measures like journal publications per annum, or the like, to add substance to the article.

Do you think government intervention, or specifically financial aid, is primarily responsible for perpetuating the obsolete university infrastructure? Richard Vedder wrote on the effects of financial aid in Going Broke By Degree, but I have not that yet.
10.7.2005 5:57pm
anonymous coward:
It is also not clear, from the article, how often male vs. female professors leave before being considered for tenure. (I'm not sure which way this is likely to cut.)
10.7.2005 6:05pm
why give tenure in the first place to someone in esp. the humanities

This is obviously a complex topic with strong arguments on either side. As a humanities professor (without tenure) I can confidently say that without the possibility of tenure I would never have gone into this line of work. As much as I love my subject, the 8 years or so it took to get a Ph.D (this includes time for the MA and this number is especially high because of a lot of required language work in my field) and the low pay are pretty high barriers to overcome. The fact that I have a shot at life-time job security if I manage to write a lot and get it published is the trade off. Without that trade off, I can't imagine many people would follow this path. There are obviously examples of people who should be fired but can't be because they have tenure. But as much as the media likes to focus on these (and the CO case is about as extreme as it gets), there are thousands of other excellent teachers and researchers who probably would not be doing what they do were it not for the tenure system.
10.7.2005 7:17pm
Andy Morriss (mail):
Chukuang assumes that the only difference between a university with tenure and one without is tenure. There are lots of ways that a university without tenure might differ - people might have long term contracts, higher pay, there might be more jobs, etc. Economic theory suggests that making it hard to reduce numbers means that firms will hire fewer people - see, generally, France. So it might be that in a world of universities without tenure competing with universities with tenure, the non-tenure schools might have to offer compensating benefits to lure good people to take their jobs.
10.7.2005 7:39pm

An interesting point.
10.7.2005 8:23pm
Buck Turgidson (mail):
One more thing to think about--since we do not have raw numbers, there is no indication of what the initial hiring rates are. If the number of women is fairly small to begin with, it is not suprising either statistically or realistically that their rates of tenure would be a bit higher, even if only in a small group of departments.

Furthermore, there is no indication of other factors that may play into this. I would go so far as to say that this article provides fodder for those who believe that statistical comparisons of this kind are not a useful measure. In general, isolated statistical information is fairly useless, except in cases where even without the hard data one can draw similar conclusions (case in point: NCLB).

In general, it is very important to understand what a particular set of statistical data represents before citing it. Somehow, I suspect that college newspapers lack this kind of sophistication.
10.7.2005 10:03pm