University beats peers for female faculty rates

The University employed 488 full-time female faculty members last year, slightly less than the national average, data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows.

Among all public and private two- and four-year Title IV degree-granting institutions, 42.9 percent of full-time faculty are women, Michael Solomon, the manager of editorial promotion at The Chronicle of Higher Education, said.

GW does beat out its market basket schools for the number of female faculty employed, with females representing 39.2-percent of full-time faculty employed by GW last year, a slight bump from the 38.5 percent in 2009.

The most recent national data shows institutions comparable to GW employ 38.5 percent full-time female faculty.

Female faculty hiring has increased since the early 1990s, but still isn’t proportionate to the student body, Assistant Vice President for Faculty Recruitment and Personnel Relations Annie Wooldridge said.

“The current ratio, 39 percent women and 61 percent men, highlights our progress in this area. Nonetheless, these achievements have not matched our intentions,” Wooldridge said. “As a result, we are redoubling our efforts through a number of activities to increase the presence of women faculty and faculty of color.”

Departments and faculty search committees throughout the University are encouraged to “engage in active and targeted outreach to women and people of color,” Wooldridge added.

Schools must have long-term initiatives to make permanent changes in female hiring, John Curtis, a director of research and public policy at the American Association of University Professors, said.

“There certainly has been a lot of activity in that area. I think what we’re finding now is that it’s not enough to make a one-time commitment to improve the hiring practices. It has to be an ongoing effort,” Curtis said.

Female professors offer several long-term benefits to students, professor of English Caroline Smith said.

“I think it’s important to have women represented in university and college classrooms because you want students – particularly female students – to realize that those kinds of careers are options for them,” Smith said. “You want more equal representation so that the next generation of men and women can see what options are available.”

When part-time faculty are included, 42 percent of the University’s professors were women in 2009, according to the most recent data compiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The University had a slight edge on its market basket schools, as Boston University employed 39 percent women and New York University employed 41 percent, according to the Chronicle report. Meanwhile, GW runs in the middle of the pack for District institutions: American University employs 46 percent women and Georgetown University employs 40 percent women, the Chronicle data showed.

Just 10 of the 80 full-time faculty in the School of Science and Engineering are women, the widest discrepancy between men and women in any school. The Elliott School of International Affairs employs less than a quarter women.

The Graduate School of Education and Human Development and the School of Public Health and Health Services boast more than half female full-time faculty. One-hundred percent of the School of Nursing’s 14 full-time professors are women.

“I think that women professors have a very tough time integrating in some areas like engineering, scientific subjects, but I see the struggle. There’s inequality in those areas, more so than in the humanities, which is in my domain,” professor of Italian Kristin Cassola said.

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