Responding to notable declines in female faculty following the 1996 implementation of Proposition 209–the amendment to the California constitution prohibiting affirmative action in public employment, education, and contracting, the University of California (UC) recently launched new initiatives to increase the number of tenured women professors, according to the San Francisco Chronicler. Included in the new measures were delayed probationary periods for tenure as well as lightened teaching loads after the addition of one or two children. Still, some women leaders criticized that UC continues to inadequately publicize the changes, in turn preventing more women from taking advantage of the options.
Low numbers of female faculty is not just limited to CaliforniaÑ- it is a phenomenon witnessed by colleges throughout the nation. According to a study done by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), women comprised just 36% of overall faculty in 2001. Of that number, only 21% held full professorships. At Northwestern University, lectureships– positions with lower salaries that do not receive research compensation or support– are most widely held by women while full-time professorships are held by a small female minority. At the University of Illinois, the faculty gender gap prompted a group of female graduate students in 2000 to address the Board of Trustees, saying that “the low number of female University professors isolates graduate students because fewer female role models are able to set an example,” according to The Daily Illini.
The gender gap remains prevalent in other areas of the workforce. Despite constituting almost 47 percent of the US labor force, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, women in 2002 account for only 15.7 percent of corporate officers in Fortune 500 companies, reported Catalyst, a New York-based women’s advocacy and research group. More over, women working full-time earn only 73 cents for every dollar earned by men, according to statistics released by the US Census Bureau on September 25, 2001. Minority women earn even less, with African-American and Latina women earning 65 cents and 53 cents, respectively for every dollar earned by white males.