Where Are Female Professors?

The lack of female professors in the Claremont McKenna College Government and Economics departments is glaringly obvious to most anyone. Out of 69 total professors (associate and assistant included), the two departments have only nine female professors: five in Economics and four in Government.

The lack of female professors at CMC is an issue that the administration must address for several reasons. Since the school's primary departments are Government and Economics, it is crucial that the professors - the role models - of these departments represent both genders so that both men and women feel comfortable pursuing majors or careers in these areas. I do not, however, think females are overwhelmed or particularly deterred by the lack of female professors in these departments, but the gender imbalance does create a skewed understanding for female students.

Dean Garris, Senior Associate Dean of the Faculty, agrees, noting that it is "very clear that the college has an interest in hiring more female faculty. It is clear that the students would prefer to have professors reflect the diversity of the student body."

However, Garris also notes that it is illegal to discriminate when hiring. The school cannot hire based on gender. The school is committed to hiring the very best, whatever gender that person may be. Garris hopes that the number of females applying for these jobs increases, so there is a greater selection to choose from and thus a greater likelihood that a female will get chosen.

According to Garris, female professors comprise about 25% of the faculty. This is is consistent with national trends. According to research conducted by the American Political Science Association (APSA), females make up 24% of full time faculty. CMC is not an anomaly, and the problems facing CMC regarding female hires are generally problems other universities face.

According to Professor Busch, the department head of the Government department, the lack of female professors can be attributed to the lack of females in academia in the past 40 years. Busch notes that the integration of women into the academic world has been gradual, which is certainly the case at CMC.

The Economics and Government departments have 16 and 18 full professors, respectively. Busch asserts that the number of full professors directly correlates with the number of male professors. Since full professors have generally been teaching for longer, they are most often male since men have historically been better represented in academia. Over the next 20 or 30 years, the departments will begin to look more "gender equal" as more women become involved in academia.

In fact, Busch already mentions that he is seeing changes. Busch has been at the school since 2004 and became the department head last July. Since he's been here, there have been eight new hires for the Government department, five of which are male and three of which are female. These numbers already show an improvement in the gender disparities present in the department.

However, Garris admits that the school has a hard time retaining female faculty members in the Economics department. Garris notes that there are "...various reasons for that...recruitment by other institutions... (and) the amount of females in that department is modest, so people don't always feel comfortable."

Since Economics is a very mobile field, it is hard to retain Economics professors. More so than other academics, economists generally have higher-paying options outside of academia. The mobility of the field, as well as the preexisting minority of female professors, makes it exceptionally hard to recruit and retain female professors in the Economics department.

As more females obtain their PhD's, more females will enter into the academic pool. Professor Appel, Associate Dean of the faculty and a Government professor at CMC, notes that women are already leading the field in certain departments. "There are plenty of women candidates in international fields," says Appel.

However, Garris notes that "the ability to make rapid changes in an academic institution is not easy for anyone." While more women than ever are earning PhDs, the process of integrating these women into academia remains gradual.