August 4, 2008
Exploring faculty equity
By Carol Clark
The good news: Emory scores well for faculty equity, in terms of both gender and race/ethnicity, when compared to its peer institutions. The bad news: those peer benchmarks aren’t necessarily very high.
“We talk a lot about being a community of excellence, and one requirement for excellence is to be a diverse community,” says Claire Sterk, senior vice provost for academic planning and development, explaining the rationale behind a report on faculty equity completed by the Office of the Provost last spring. “I was extremely pleased and proud when we completed the project to see that the impressions that many of us have are true — that Emory compares well to its peers in terms of racial diversity, as well as the representation of women among faculty.”
The report explored faculty gender and race by rank and appointment track, hiring and retention, career trajectories, salary equity, access to development resources, professional recognition and awards and leadership roles. The data included full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty from every area of the University. Rather than making recommendations, the Office of the Provost posted the full report on its Web site and asked for faculty feedback, to help determine the next steps.
(Read the full report at http://www.emory.edu/PROVOST.)
While Emory’s numbers “look really good in the national landscape, maybe the national landscape doesn’t look so great,” says Sterk, summing up some of that feedback, which she says was positive overall.
This fall, the Office of the Provost will use the feedback to develop an action plan for the University to continue to foster equity, Sterk says, adding that one step will likely be to drill further into the data, looking closer at department and unit levels.
Another step may be looking at ways to recognize faculty service. “It’s clear that a lot of faculty spend an enormous amount of time in service,” Sterk says. “So how can Emory really reward these service activities, particularly those that have to do with institution building?”
“This is an extremely valuable report,” says Nadine Kaslow, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, special assistant to the provost and past chair of the Faculty Council. “The process of providing information, then asking for input and taking responses seriously is a real strength of this institution.”
The report showed no statistically significant salary gap in terms of race or gender. It showed that the number of endowed chairs held by women and racial/ethnic minorities is high compared to benchmark institutions, and has continued to rise over time.
Emory also compared well in terms of the number of women and racial/ethnic minorities who hold tenure-track positions. Kaslow notes, however, that when the data are broken down by rank, disparities show up. For instance, 16 percent of females with the rank of “professor” are on the tenure track, while 32.4 percent of male professors are on the tenure track.
“Even if we look good next to our benchmarks, to me that’s still a serious concern,” Kaslow says. “Emory wants to be a leader, so 16 percent is not good enough.”
She adds that an excuse used by some institutions — not enough women and minorities are in the hiring pipeline — is becoming less valid. “When I was in elementary school, my mom got her Ph.D.,” she says. “That was a long time ago. A lot of women and ethnic minorities are in the pipeline now. I think that the pipeline has leaks, and we need to fix them.”