UC Hiring Fewer Women Professors After Prop. 209
SACRAMENTO, Calif. The University of California has hired fewer female faculty following passage of anti-affirmative action ballot measure Proposition 209, creating a gender gap that needs bridging, women professors from across the 10-campus system said recently. “We are in serious discrimination mode at the university,” says UC Davis law professor Martha West, one of more than a dozen professors who spoke at a state Senate hearing on UC hiring. In 1994, women made up 37 percent of UC’s new hires, a record high. But the numbers have been falling since then. In 1998, women accounted for 27 percent of UC’s new hires, a year when women earned 48 percent of doctorates awarded to U.S. citizens, according to data prepared for the Senate Select Committee on Government Oversight. The decrease comes at a time when UC is engaged in a huge hiring surge to keep up with an anticipated enrollment increase. The declining number of new women faculty follows the 1996 passage of Proposition 209, the ballot measure dismantling most state affirmative action programs. That measure killed some UC hiring programs but did not override federal regulations on hiring equity. Still, several professors say it seems to have chilled enthusiasm for hiring women. “We’ve gone back to normal, and what is normal? Normal is hiring men,” West says. Professors testifying offered a number of different factors contributing to the hiring drop-off, ranging from bias and an “old boys’ network” to not offering childcare and keeping applicant pools too small. The hearing came two days after leaders of nine top universities, including UC Berkeley, acknowledged that barriers exist for women faculty in science and engineering and promised to address the inequity.The university presidents met at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where officials admitted discriminating against women after a group of female professors produced an analysis two years ago showing unfair treatment (see Black Issues, Feb. 15). UC officials defended their track record, saying they have hired more women than other major universities — for the year 1997-98, UC’s faculty was 23.5 percent female compared to Harvard’s total of 12.9 percent. They also contend that in some fields the number of qualified female candidates is small. In addition, a recent report commissioned by the University of Colorado-Boulder found that university’s female employees continue to face job segregation, salary differences and other inequities, despite recent gains in some areas. “Despite some improvements, women are still under-represented in positions of power and feel deprived of voice and opportunity,” said the report, conducted by the Chancellor’s Committee on Women. The third annual Status of Women Report for 2000 found female full professors earn 91 percent of what male counterparts earn. Tenured and tenure-track female professors earn 2 percent less than their male colleagues with all other factors being equal, such as rank, field and length of time at CU-Boulder, according to William Kaempfer, associate vice chancellor of academic affairs. Other findings of the report include: new tenure-track and tenured faculty members are predominantly male, but new instructors are predominantly female.
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