Women are dominating university classrooms but still struggling to get to the front of them.
New research by two Ontario sociologists shows that, while the majority of Canadian university students are now female, when it comes to faculty it remains very much a man’s game.
"There are qualified women; they’re just not getting a fair shake," co-author Janice Drakich of the University of Windsor said.
Drakich and co-author Penni Stewart of York University analyzed the most current Statistics Canada data on students and faculty on Canadian campuses and found that though women represent 58 per cent of those taking classes, they make up fewer than one-third of full-time faculty and 18 per cent of full professors.
Their research, which is to be published in next month’s issue of Academic Matters, also found that, despite the increase in female students in recent decades, there has been little change in the gender composition of academic disciplines. Women account for two-thirds of all humanities students and nearly half in faculties of education but just one-quarter of those in mathematics, computer and information sciences, and only 11 per cent in engineering.
Still, Drakich rejects the long-held defence for university faculty gender inequity — there just aren’t enough qualified women. With PhD students split evenly between the sexes, she said one of the biggest problems in translating that into a professorial balance is the lack of "fair and equitable" hiring guidelines that take into account the paths of women’s careers. "It’s not malicious but it is happening," said Drakich.