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Only a small fraction of the
University's faculty is female.
For them, teaching in such an
environment is often lonely,
By Rachel Gottlieb
Graphics by Bill Marsh
say they are dedicated to excellence.
But not everyone believes their claim.
"Any university that has as few
women on its faculty... as this one
should be embarrassed to talk too
loudly about excellence," said one
In virtually every college and department of the
University, dramatic disparities exist in gender representation
on the faculty. Wages for men and women professors are also
Executive officers, deans, and department heads say more
women need to be recruited. But women faculty members say
the prevalence of the "old boys network," coupled with
traditional mores and a general acceptance of the status quo,
impede women's entry to high level academic appointments.
Out of 2,283 University professors, 386 are women - a
scant 16.9 percent of the faculty. According to the
University's 1985-86 Affirmative Action report, the
percentage of female assistant professors is at its lowest in
nine years: 27.9 percent. It peaked in 1981 at 31.4 percent.
"In the past year I've heard a lot of lip service to the
notion of excellence, but I have a serious doubt that people
are giving proper thought to the notion," said linguistics
prof. Donna Jo Napoli. "There is no sense of excellence that
can be devoid of social responsibility. Life cannot be of
terrific quality as long as there is racism and sexism and any
other number of social injustices.
"Eradicating these injustices is just as much the job of the
University that strives for excellence as engineering a gene
that will eat toxic wastes."
On the average, men receive more Ph.Ds, publish more
often and in what are considered to be more prestigious
journals, receive higher salaries and tenure appointments, and
are more highly respected among colleagues. Some
administrators say this trend is reversing itself, but many
faculty members are calling for more aggressive and creative
affirmative action policies.
"Historically there are scenarios of discrimination against
women in academia," said Regent Paul Brown (D-Petoskey).
"Maybe we need to hire more women to make up for past
wrongs. I don't think any regents or anybody in the
administration is satisfied with the numbers."
Many women say they have been victimized by sexist
discrimination at the University, but they were afraid to talk
for fear of retribution. Some professors said if they get a
reputation for being uncooperative or a troublemaker, it could
affect them as long as they remain in academia - even if
One professor who left a tenured position at the
University and is now teaching at a university in New York
said she left because she didn't get respect from her male
colleagues, simply because of her gender. She refused to say
One tenured professor, who spoke on the condition that
she not be identified, reports a phone conversation with her
superior in which he "accused me of trying to get away with
things by smiling and looking pretty." The superior,
questioned by the Daily, said he cannot recall the
Wagetcomparisons are difficult because there are no
University studies that compare faculty at the same point in
their career. Napoli said she would like to see a study
comparing the salaries of third year assistant professors, third
year associate professors, and third year full professors.
According to Patricia McIntosh, personnel information
analyst, this year the average salary for a full male professor
is $55,914, and female $46,914; male associate professors
earn an average of $42,484, while females make $37,343;
male assistant professors average $36,004, females $31,941.
Associate LSA Dean for Academic Affairs and Affirmative
Action Coordinator Jack Walker believes "the problem (of
recruiting women) is slowly solving itself." Martha Vicinus,
head of the women's studies program, said that view was
"A lot of people think the problem has been solved, but it
is a considerable problem here," said Vicinus.
Gottlieb recently finished her term as the Daily's Managing
Editor; Marsh is Weekend Magazine Editor.
James Duderstadt, vice president for academic affairs and
provost, said it is "getting harder to recruit women because
they have more opportunities, and the qualified applicant
pool is limited."But he added, "This doesn't mean we can't
or shouldn't be doing a better job."
Vicinus said: "I'm very suspicious when people say the
applicant pool is so small. To recruit women you have to
broaden the definition of what you're looking for. You have
to cast a wider net."
Duderstadt said the University is "deeply committed to
Indeed, during the last decade the number of women
students, faculty, and administrators has increased, leading
some academics to believe women are well on their way to
achieving parity with men. Elizabeth Douvan, director of the
Residential College, sees a "great danger" in this view.
"Affirmative action is on its way out. There's no moral
leadership of affirmative action on the national level - they
think affirmative action is quotas. At research universities
it's going to get harder for women," Douvan said.
"Affirmative action" refers to any policy that goes beyond
being just non-discriminatory. Selective recruitment
programs are an example of affirmative action which does not
Occasionally the provost's office appropriates special
funds to recruit "superstar" women and minorities who do not
specialize in a subdivision that has an opening in a
department. This is called the Target of Opportunity
But The Senate Assembly Committee on University
Affairs proposed an affirmative action initiative in February
for hiring women and minority faculty members. It charges
that the Target of Opportunity Program ineffectual.
The proposal says, "Hiring is often selectively targeted to
specific disciplinary specialties thus decreasing the
probability of finding appropriately trained women and
Once they get here, the high pressure to publish, coupled
with family and teaching demands, drives some women to
leave research institutions like Michigan.
Virginia Nordby, director of affimative action programs,
described what she calls the "book or baby dilemma." In the
seven years before a woman is reviewed for tenure, she is
pressured to publish often. The decision to have a child
during this time may become a decision on whether to leave
"You can't expect your colleagues to take over your
classes and put your research on hold while you take
maternity leave," she said.
But Beth Reed, a former co-chairman of the Academic
Women's Caucus, said most women she knows either have
children early or as soon as they get tenure, rather than during
the six years before tenure review.
Vicinus believes there are so few women executive
officers at the University because they are not being trained
for leadership positions, not because the applicant pool is
limited. "More women should be trained for leadership
positions. More women should be moved into chairmanships
and deans positions," she said.
Echoing Vicinus, Napoli described a situation in which
she said she was passed over for a chairmanship because of
William Bright, editor of "Language" and a linguistics
professor at Stanford University, was part of a team of
outside experts who evaluated the University linguistics
department before it was disbanded. He said said he and his
colleagues recommended that Napoli or linguistics Prof. Pete
Becker be named department head.
"Donna Jo or Pete could have saved the department and
brought it back to the strength it once had. I think it's a
shame the University did not see fit to follow the
"I think she's absolutely tops in her field and I follow her
work," Bright said.
Becker opted for early retirement, but English Associate
Prof. Thomas Toon was appointed to the leadership role
instead of Napoli.
Napoli, a tenured full professor, earns $36,000 - a sum
that is less than the average salary for a male assistant
Because there are fewer female professors than male, it
follows that in real numbers fewer women receive tenure. But
according to Douvan, "when a minority member or a woman
does not make the tenure test, it is a blow to minority and
women students who continue to exist in a environment
dominated by a white male presence, in which they are
'outsiders' and have no meaningful adult models."
"The turning back of women and minority faculty is
highly demoralizing to women and minority faculty who feel
again the low priority the institution places on diversifying
its population and opening opportunity," she said.
As relative academic newcomers, women and minorities
are bringing different experiences and perspectives to
academia. They are exploring previously unresearched
subjects, and their work does not always fit into traditional
But .specializing in non-traditional areas makes it more
difficult for women to get published and qualify for positions
in departments seeking specialists in specific traditional
Many faculty members say academic institutiots need to
redefine traditional conceptions of academic excellence and
accepted fields of study in order to include more women.
"The University has a lack of committment to real
affirmative action, not just non-discrimination," said
Jacquelynne Eccles, assistant vice president for research and a
psychology professor. "If you want to recruit women you
have to be more sensitive to women's issues and allow them
to do their best work."
Vicinus said people who give tenure and encourage your
work often have a notion of what high quality work is.
Serious work on rape, for instance, might be seen as a
women's issue rather than mainstream research.
"In order to succeed, we must be like the white men."
According to Eccles, "women's articles don't get
published as often because women choose to study different
things than the men on editorial boards, and the editorial
boards don't always have female representatives."
Peer review panels that decide which articles to publish
are supposed to be blind, but a former co-chairman of the
Academic Women's Caucus said: "If a name and gender is on
the article it is probably biased. The peer review process
probably favors men."
How frequently and in which journals faculty members
publish is strongly considered by tenure revue boards.
"Serious work that is published in women's magazines,
rather than mainstream journals, is devalued," Vicinus said.
ECAUSE THERE ARE SO FEW women
in each department, extra curricular
demands on their time often exceed those of
their male colleagues. Women are
consistently asked to serve on departmental
committees or to represent the department
on interdepartmental panels.
While the male junior faculty members work in their labs,
the women are required to attend meetings.
Many women said they felt compelled to join the
committees in the spirit of cooperation and out of a sense of
obligation to ensure that a woman's perspective is heard by
Once on the committees, Eccles said, women are often
confronted with sexist attitudes. She related a story of a
woman who served as the only woman on a committee.
When she requested a later meeting time than 6 p.m. in order
to cook dinner for her children, the men simply smiled and
set the meeting for 6 p.m.
Several female professors said women spend more time
giving students extra help than their male colleagues. The
extra hours spent with students takes time away from
research that is critical during the time before being reviewed
Reed said people often assume women are more
approachable than men and are more often interrupted by
students seeking extra help, so they keep more office hours
and "are more often sought out even after office hours."
She added that "people are more likely to bang on her door
even if it's closed."
Biology Prof. Beverly Rathcke said "I tend to be more
available and it's a big drain on my time."
Penetrating the firmly entrenched "old boys' network," or
the "information network," as it has come to be called by
inclusive language advocates, is critical for achieving
"Connections to the whole social enterprise of science and
See WOMEN, Page 12
'My getting the job was dependent on women recruiti
Women comprise a small fraction of LSA facu
Men and women full professors in selected departments
O Men Wome
2 Political Science
...and that of other 'U' colleges
Education 29 5
Engineering I/m 3
Law 3 3 2
Public Health 4 3
Source: University of Michigan 1985-1986 Affirmative Action Report
I don' t think the University
is committed to increasing its
percentage of women.'
assistant vice president for research
and psychology professor
WEEKEND/MARCH 13; 1987