Strong Recruiting Efforts Have Worked to Increase Number of Female Professors
by Patricia McBroom
More women are holding tenured faculty positions at Berkeley thanks in large part to the concerted efforts of departmental recruiters.
The ratio of women to men has grown by more than 1 percent per year since 1990.
And the pool of women candidates is increasingly representative of the most highly talented individuals.
The change has come about as senior faculty have retired and newly hired professors reflect a more even balance between men and women.
In the 1990-91 academic year, 16 percent of the faculty were women. For the 1994-95 academic year, 303 of 1,428 faculty members are women, accounting for 21 percent of the faculty.
"Women here were excited when we hit the teens; now we're hitting one-fifth," said Christina Maslach, faculty adviser on the status of women and a professor of social psychology.
The percent of minority faculty has also grown in the past four years. The number of minority faculty has risen from 11.8 percent of the total faculty in 1990 to 14.4 percent in 1994. Most of those gains occurred among minority women professors.
"We have a window of opportunity here to make a difference in gender and ethnic balance, and the kind of trend you would hope to see is happening," said Maslach.
Maslach said she is particularly encouraged by where the changes are occurring.
Women are gaining at tenured levels rather than just among the ranks of new, young professors who have not yet earned tenure.
One-third of associate professors--they make up the first tenured level--are women. At the level of full professor, 14 percent are women.
The percentage of tenured faculty who are women has gone from 13 to 18 percent in the past four years.
Faculty from minority groups has risen to 12.5 percent of all tenured faculty, up from 10 percent in 1990.
"This steady gain at the associate professor level is really encouraging," said Maslach.
"Slowly, but surely, gender balance is moving up the tenured ranks.
"That's not to say we've finished the process and can go back to some other business. Work still needs to be done," she said.
Compared to other leading universities, Berkeley has moved ahead on gender balance.
At the University of Michigan, for instance, 14 percent of the tenured faculty is female; Harvard's tenured faculty is 8.8 percent female and Stanford's is 11 percent female.
The change in the ratio of men to women has occurred along with the retirement of numbers of senior men since 1991.
To help compensate for reduced state funding, the nine-campus UC system instituted voluntary early retirement incentives in three of the last four years.
Subsequently, the number of male professors has declined by 276, while the number of female professors has grown by 33.
In addition to the effects of early retirement, the university has hired a number of new female professors at the tenured level, people who had already published and were well-launched toward establishing themselves in their fields.
"We're getting top people and they are becoming more diverse," said Maslach. "There's no reason that the cream of the crop should always look white and male."
In contrast to these steady changes among the faculty as a whole, some departments on campus have experienced a virtual transformation in gender balance.
The department of anthropology, for instance, which was predominately male four years ago, now has a 50-50 ratio of men to women.
Maslach expects the trend to continue into the next few years as the campus gains the resources to rebuild faculty size.
"Things are really opening up now," said Maslach. "We'll be doing lots of hiring in the next two to three years.
"This is a very special opportunity to build a diverse faculty. We won't have this opportunity again for a long time."