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As we begin our joyriding journey toward gender equity on college and university campuses, let's look at the history and then assess the current road conditions for women at the wheel. Over the years, American women have come a long way both as passengers and drivers of higher education.
Once we admit that higher education was based on the Germanic model and invented by and for men, it's easy to understand why the present American system remains so narrow and dated, and thus increasingly unsuccessful and irrelevant, and why women must lead the way in retooling it for the new century.
Traditional higher education was designed in the horse-and-buggy era to serve the young, rich, white, able-bodied sons of aristocrats: the leisure class. Its culture was patriarchal, competitive, and linear, and its approved teaching method was Socratic. Students lived at their schools; corporal punishment was acceptable discipline; and creativity was actively discouraged, as all were expected to fit one mold of the serious scholar. No wonder it doesn't work in the era of super-highways.
According to the Women's College Coalition in Washington, D. C., four societal trends in the mid-to late nineteenth century increased the demand for higher education for women:
The first U. S. college chartered to confer degrees to girls in 1836 was Georgia Female College, today Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. It is considered the oldest women's college.
Exclusively women's colleges offered a respite from some of the patriarchal aspects of higher education. Often started as teachers' colleges and sources of religious and health education, women's colleges continued to grow until, at the height of their popularity in 1960, they numbered 296. By 1999, all but 73 had closed, merged, or become coeducational. Of the elite Seven Sisters colleges sometimes called the Women's Ivy League, only 5 remain single sex today: Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Smith, and Wellesley.
Founded in 1636, Harvard University is the oldest and most prestigious U. S. university. Because Harvard steadfastly refused to admit women, in 1879 a group of very refined women, who certainly didn't want to harm Harvard in any way, founded Radcliffe College to provide women with a Harvard education. To reach the seats in a heavily curtained back room where Harvard professors taught them, the female students had to climb through windows. Harvard began admitting women in 1943 and fully included them by 1965; Radcliffe College itself merged into Harvard in 1999. Its only remnant is the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Research, which doesn't even have the words gender or women in its name!
In 1933, Oberlin College in Ohio became the first formerly male college in the United States to officially admit women. The last known bastions of male exclusivity are four private colleges whose combined enrollment is less than five thousand students: Deep Springs College in California, Hampden-Sydney College and Morehouse College in Virginia, and Wabash College in Indiana.
In the mid-1990s, two public military colleges spent about $5 million each to continue their 150-year-old policies of excluding women as cadets: The Citadel in South Carolina and the Virginia Military Institute. In 1996, the Supreme Court told the Virginia Military Institute that it must admit women. After a federal appeals court order, The Citadel had reluctantly admitted Shannon Faulkner as a cadet in 1995, but she was drummed out of the corps within six days. Finally in fall 1996, The Citadel admitted four women as cadets amid much planning and fanfare. Two quit after a semester and sued for illegal hazing, and the other two graduated in 1999 and 2000, respectively.
In the last thirty years, women students have become the statistical majority on many college campuses, but they still do not have the rights they deserve. The cultural tradition of male dominance still prevails in academic leadership, teaching, curricula, and standards for promotion and tenure. Here's a snapshot of today's women on campus.
The percentage of students who are women has been steadily increasing since the 1970s. Female students were 55.6 percent of all undergraduates in 1999, a change that affects social patterns, gender equity in athletics, and virtually all other aspects of campus life. In fact, in 1999, higher education leaders actually held a conference to address the change in their market's gender, asking where the boys had gone, why, and what to do about it.
In graduation rates as well, women are steadily gaining, now surpassing men in earning bachelor's and master's degrees. Historically, women earned 19 percent of all bachelor's degrees in 1900, 40 percent in 1930, 43 percent in 1970, 55 percent in 1994, and 57 percent in 1999. Of master's degrees awarded in 1999, women earned 52 percent. Among doctoral degrees earned by U. S. citizens in 1999, women earned almost half, 48 percent compared to men's 52 percent. Unless the trend reverses, soon U. S. women will earn more doctorates than U. S. men.
The demographics of today's students continue to favor women. College and university students are more likely than in an earlier era to be older (age twenty-five and up), attend part-time, live off campus, and have other responsibilities like a job and a family. Older females are most apt to return to the classroom when their relationships end due to death or divorce, believing it's their turn to do something for themselves.
With the increasing feminization of the student market, those campus leaders involved in marketing—admissions, student services, public relations departments, development—have been adapting their strategies and their product to appeal to the new demographics. Because these are the same offices on campus most likely to be led and staffed by women, it's working.
Research indicates that, in the classroom, female students prefer a style of learning that includes discussion, favors an inclusive process, and values experiential learning. This preference still meets resistance by traditional academic leaders who favor the lecture and "the sage on the stage" over the "guide on the side."
The number of women in administration has been increasing steadily since 1970, fueled by the women's movement, affirmative action, feminists, women's strong work ethic and abilities, and the goddess herself.
Five percent of all presidents of colleges and universities in 1975 were women, according to the American Council on Education's Office of Women in Higher Education. The percentage had increased to 12 percent by 1992, 16.5 percent by 1995, and 19.3 percent by 1998. The largest percentage of women presidents lead private two-year colleges, 27 percent. Next comes private four-year colleges at 15 percent and public universities at 14 percent. Women are most likely to head smaller schools: 71 percent lead schools with three thousand or fewer students. There is also a trend toward more women being hired to lead public schools; the percentage of presidents of state schools who are women increased from 11 percent of presidents in 1975 to 36 percent in 1984 and 48 percent in 1995. Women are now being tapped to lead community colleges, which traditionally emphasize teaching over research; those troubled schools considered at risk that are more likely to take a chance on a woman; and colleges that require interim presidents, where a free trial period allows both sides to test the fit. According to The Third Sex by Patricia McBroom, women leaders have become like Amazons: they dress and act like males and do not marry or bear children. Women presidents seem to fit the mold: the American Council on Education's 1991 data indicate that only 53 percent of female college presidents were married, compared with 91 percent of male presidents.
In other top administrative jobs, women are increasing in the ranks of provosts, vice presidents, and deans. Women are an estimated one-third of department chairs. Unfortunately, women are also increasing in dead-end administrative jobs, such as directors of programs and affirmative action offices, where their skills have a minimal chance to affect policy and they have virtually no chance
Despite recent gains, the gender of the faculty in higher education has remained predominantly male, as have the standards by which faculty are judged for hiring, salary, and promotion. From 1925 to 2000, the percentage of full-time faculty that is female has increased just 5 percent, from 19 percent to 24 percent. Many women now in their fifties recall having never had a female teacher in college.
In gaining tenure, women are making slow progress. In 1989, 22 percent of tenured faculty were female. By 1998, that percentage had increased to 26 percent. The percentage of faculty on the tenure track who are female increased over those years from 38 percent to 45 percent.
Women hold 39 percent of all faculty positions, but women are more apt than men to fill part-time and adjunct positions. Part-time positions held by both men and women have increased to more than 40 percent of faculty; they are more likely to teach in private four-year schools or in two-year public community colleges, whose faculty averaged 65.5 percent part-timers in 1999. There has been a similar increase of those women full-time faculty not on the tenure track, from 45.5 percent to 50.1 percent.
According to an AAUW report, 48 percent of female faculty were tenured in 1999, compared to 72 percent of male faculty. The rate of tenuring women has not increased as fast as the rate of tenuring men. Over the last twenty years, there has been an increase of 1.5 percent in the rate of women gaining tenure, compared to an 8 percent increase for men.
In salaries, women faculty are paid less. According to the AAUW, women college professors earn 77 percent of what male college professors earn. Part of this discrepancy is due to women being concentrated in the lower-paying social sciences (nursing, education, and teaching), whereas men are in the higher-paying hard sciences (engineering, computers, and math). But part is also due to gender bias; studies repeatedly show that schools discriminate against women, as the 1999 MIT salary and resources survey proved.
Women faculty are increasing at all ranks across the country. Although they tend to earn less and work for smaller and less prestigious schools, women are on the increase in teaching roles. And more women are joining the tenure track, having increased from 34 percent of those on the track in 1983 to 42 percent in 1991. But women are still less likely than males to gain tenure, especially in male-dominated departments, because the real rules are unwritten and the good old boys are reluctant to let women join their game.
Meanwhile, many schools are reducing the number of new hires who are on the tenure track, instead offering yearly contracts and hiring adjunct professors, of which the clear majority are women, to teach a few courses. At Harvard University in 1997, only 13 percent of tenured faculty were women. A 1993 report indicated that the rate of women gaining tenure over the previous ten years had increased only 0.4 percent per year, and the general climate for women at Harvard was still unequal and sometimes hostile.
Women faculty continue to get unequal pay for equal work. According to the 1999Ð 2000 salary survey of the American Association of University Professors, there are significant pay discrepancies based on gender. At schools that grant doctorates, male full professors earn 9.8 percent more than women, controlling for time at that rank. At private schools, male full professors earn about 14 percent more than females. At public schools, the genderÐ pay gap increased from 10.5 percent in 1982 to 13 percent in 1998.
Athletics is considered a fertile ground for developing leaders, and women are having mixed success in becoming equal partners. Since the passage of Title IX of the 1972 Educational Amendments, the federal law requiring gender equity in educational programs in schools receiving federal funds, things have changed dramatically for women in athletics. At some schools, women are beginning to get a fair shake, thanks to investigations by the federal Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, individual lawsuits against schools that perpetuate bias against women, and concerned individuals in leadership positions who know it's the right thing to do. Some schools take the law more seriously than others. The following figures come from Women in Intercollegiate Sport, a longitudinal study and twenty-three-year update (1977Ð 2000), by R. Vivian Acosta and Linda Carpenter, emerita professors at Brooklyn College, New York.
Born of a patriarchal tradition, higher education continues to marginalize women at every turn as students, administrators, faculty, and athletics leaders. Whether the bias is conscious or unconscious, women are being penalized consistently for their gender. The culprits are tradition, the good old boys' network, glass ceilings, tokenism, and a society that teaches men to disrespect women and women to settle for second best. The goal of this book is to help women reach gender equity in colleges and universities, plain and simple. Subsequent pages will help readers do just that, with practical solutions to challenges and the theoretical bases to explain them.
Bill of Rights for Women in Higher EducationAbbreviations.
Current Road Conditions for Women Drivers.Driver?s Ed: Developing Leadership Skills.
Reading the Map of Your Career 101.
Roadblocks and Road Rage.
Sex on the Road.
The Driver Within.
Are We There Yet?