Women in the Academy: Challenges, Barriers, Promising Practices, and Policies

Women in the Academy: Challenges, Barriers, Promising Practices, and Policies

Copyright: © 2024 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/979-8-3693-1371-8.ch003
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The underrepresentation of women in higher education faculty positions is widely acknowledged and a complex issue that involves numerous multifaceted elements. In this chapter, the author will examine the current status of women faculty in institutions of higher education in the United States including their representation in general, across faculty ranks, and in positions of leadership. The author will then examine initiatives for advancing women in higher education, beginning with research and evaluation actions for assessing institutional gender equity climate, followed by an examination of structural and positional initiatives and policies for advancing women in academia. Finally, the author will conclude the chapter with a discussion of potential funding sources for transformative university practices and policies regarding women faculty.
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When an individual begins an academic job search and locates a position that matches their expertise, they often search the website of the institution posting the advertisement for information about the university in general, its policies related to hiring, tenure and promotion, benefits, information related to the department housing the position, courses in relevant programs, etc. The information present or not present on the websites can influence whether or not a potential candidate moves forward with a formal application for the position. In addition, how position descriptions are worded can impact whether or not women choose to apply for them. Women who might be qualified for a position may opt out of applying for various reasons related to the position description or information found (or not) on the website. Common reasons women choose to pass on applying for positions include (1) position descriptions with masculine wordings that allude to competitiveness, independence, strength, etc. (Gaucher et al., 2011; Lester, 2008); (2) the lack of readily locatable website information related to equitable structures and policies unique to women in university settings such as tenure clock extension for childbirth or adoption reasons and family-friendly policies (Lundine et al., 2018); (3) mistakenly thinking they must meet 100% of the advertised qualifications to apply for the position– interestingly, males will apply for a position if they believe they meet only 60% of the posted qualifications (Mohr, 2014); and (4) inequities in compensation between male and female hires (wage gaps) (DesRoches & Zinner, 2010).

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