similiarities and differences among faculty by gender and partnered status

My last post on hiring and retaining faculty generated a spirited Q&A.  Brandy asked about differences by gender and partnered status.  Here are a few relevant snippets from the Stanford dual-couples report:

On partnered academics:

“– Women are more likely than men to have academic partners (40% of female faculty in our sample versus 34% of male faculty). In fact, rates of dual hiring are higher among women respondents than among men respondents (13% versus 7%). This means that couple hiring becomes a particularly relevant strategy for the recruitment and retention of female faculty.
– Women in academic couples report that their partner’s employment status and opportunities are important to their own career decisions. Not only do women more often than men perceive a loss in professional mobility as a result of their academic partnerships (54% for women versus 41% for men), but they actively refuse job offers if their partner cannot find a satisfactory position. In our study, the number-one reason women refused an outside offer was because their academic partners were not offered appropriate employment at the new location. These findings have significant implications for institutions seeking to recruit top women.”

On stay-at-home partners:

“Thirteen percent of our survey respondents have partners who are not active in the paid labor force. Men and women have very different partnering patterns in this regard (Figure 2). Most striking is that 86 percent of academics with stay-athome partners are men. These men face particular trade-offs in their careers. On the one hand, they generally have someone who manages the household. This can be tremendously helpful. They also tend to be more mobile. Even though families, especially those with children, do not like uprooting and making a new life for themselves in a new community, they often do. On the other hand, these families must survive on one salary.

There are some generational issues of note. Among faculty men with stay-athome partners, nearly 40 percent represent the “older generation” (completing graduate work in the 1970s or earlier) and 14 percent are recent graduates (earning degrees after 2000). It is not clear that partners who do not work outside the home do so by choice. Forty-eight percent of men and 69 percent of women faculty with stay-at-home partners report that their partners had difficulties finding an appropriate job in the area.”

As for juggling various work and family responsibilities, a recent Sociological Forum article “Gender, Work Time, and Care Responsibilities Among Faculty” by Joya Misra, Jennifer Hickes Lundquist, and Abby Templar (2012) uses a survey and focus group discussions to examine how UMass Amherst faculty, including lecturers, tenure-track, and tenured faculty,  allocate their time.  Respondents reported working 65 hours/week, with an average of 12 hours on the weekend, with female faculty taking on more household and family responsibilities at the expense of research time.  Male faculty work the same amount of hours as the female faculty.  Not surprisingly, participants felt that service were the most taxing (and least rewarding) of responsibilities.

Interestingly, although the authors make several recommendations on how to redress imbalances,  other than a recommendation to  make service “dovetail” with research interests, none note how to make service more manageable from the organizational side.  For instance, introducing sufficient staff support or resources can help expedite necessary tasks such as getting rec letters and grant applications out.  With some institutions cancelling office phone service as a cost-cutting measure or not offering sufficient office space or equipment for faculty, basic resources for getting the work done can no longer be taken-for-granted.

The ASA also has its own report on the career paths of male and female faculty, with a focus on sociologists.  Roberta Spalter-Roth and Nicole Van Vooren use data collected from surveys of those who earned PhDs in the past 10 years to see whether respondents were able to get tenure, publish peer-reviewed articles, and assume leadership positions in their professional discipline.  Read the short report here: Mothers_Ideal_Acad_Careers_2012.

Written by katherinechen

August 23, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Posted in academia

7 Responses

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  1. It bears noting that the Clayman report’s sample is fairly large (9,000 faculty), but limited to full-time faculty at 13 of the top research institutions — in other words, elite Ivy “plus” (to include Stanford and Chicago) and flagship publics. It’s likely that different patterns emerge, and different processes operate, for the majority of faculty, who aren’t at well-endowed universities and/or in tenure track positions. We know that women are overrepresented in both of these groups relative to their proportion of PhDs earned in a field.



    August 24, 2012 at 12:35 pm

  2. Katherine, thanks for writing this up. Do you know if there is a gender difference in the amount of service faculty members do?

    “Interestingly, although the authors make several recommendations on how to redress imbalances, other than a recommendation to make service “dovetail” with research interests, none note how to make service more manageable from the organizational side.”

    Sadly, I just don’t see if there is any way to make service more manageable, except to hire more staff, but that is increasingly not an option for schools (especially if they are now at the point of cutting off office phone service).


    brayden king

    August 24, 2012 at 2:18 pm

  3. Brayden, there is a lot of evidence that women do more service work than men. See, for example, more from the Misra et al research here: I’ve heard various reasons for this, including the fact that there are fewer women than men at the associate and full professor levels. Given that most committees try to include women, the math ends up being such that women are asked more often than men to serve. By the way, this is not only an issue for women; the same dynamics are at play for minority faculty members.



    August 24, 2012 at 4:40 pm

  4. Thanks Rene. That makes sense and certainly confirms the anecdotal evidence I’ve seen.


    brayden king

    August 24, 2012 at 6:01 pm

  5. This is one case where I am really sad that my anecdote based “hunches” statistically bears out.



    August 24, 2012 at 11:46 pm

  6. I only skimmed the report so I might have missed it, but do they take the nationality of academics into account? These schools have surely a non-negligible proportion of non-US citizens as faculty, so maybe legal issues (I don\’t know whehter H-1B and other visa allow partners to work ?) as well as selection issues of who actually comes to the US as grad students/faculty might explain certain aspects of the patterns.



    August 27, 2012 at 10:50 am

  7. Thanks for this data and summary. When reading, I was reminded of a convo on my blog about academics having a stay-at-home spouse. To my surprise, the consensus among readers was that it is better to have a stay-at-home spouse than two salaries.

    Your data that 86% of academics with stay-at-home spouses are men means that men are much more likely to have this privilege.



    September 3, 2012 at 5:56 pm

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