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ERIC Number: EJ874631
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2003-Jul
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 18
ISSN: ISSN-1541-6224
Emerging from the Academic Pipeline: Senior Women Faculty Members
Hamrick, Florence A.
Journal of Women in Educational Leadership, v1 n3 p217-235 Jul 2003
Twenty-six women with professor rank at a large, public, research extensive university were interviewed for this study in which respondents discussed the meanings and significance associated with full professorship. Major themes included: the promotion event and the accompanying title of professor, anticipated and actual changes in their status and working conditions, and their identities, goals, and contributions as professors. Conclusions address issues such as dilemmas of senior professorship, effective participation in institutional governance, and progress of women through the faculty ranks. Women's promotion and career advancement has been the subject of extensive study and remains a central focus in feminist research and writing as well. Benjamin (1986) described a three-pronged approach to women's progress as illustrated by various tasks undertaken by those doing feminist work: "to redeem what has been devalued in women's domain, to conquer the territory that has been reserved to men, and to resolve and transcend the opposition between these spheres by reformulating the relationship between them" (p. 78). Each of these tasks has direct relevance to research on women faculty in terms of, respectively, pursuing scholarship of and about women, increasing the demographic representation of women in faculty and administrative ranks, and challenging the sociocultural assumptions and structures that allow gender discrimination to continue. The goal of this study was to ascertain the significance of professor rank and status as understood by women professors at the rather elite academic setting of a large, public, ("Camegie-classified") Research I university. In accordance with this goal, the study was theoretically framed using women's standpoint epistemology (Harding 1986, 1991) both in order to avoid reliance on men's experiences as standards or norms (Harding, 1993), and to explore the potentially silent or silenced aspects of the lives (McLaughlin & Tierney, 1993) of women who have reached professor rank. Learning more about the experiences of women who achieved success in careers and work settings typically dominated by men will shed light on problematic elements of organizational and cultural structures within which individuals' career advancement and success continue to be measured. Demographic trend studies document some improvement yet persistent clustering of women in less prestigious disciplines (Moore & Sagaria, 1991) and in lower ranks as assistant professors, instructors, and adjuncts at research universities (e.g., Simeone, 1987). Proportions of women professors at research universities continue to be much lower than at smaller and less prestigious institutions (Moore & Sagaria, 1991). Indeed, Valian's (1998) research identified a trade-off between rank and institutional prestige for women faculty, with higher rank most often being achieved at less prestigious universities. Additionally, studies have documented persistent chilly climates for women professors in terms of collegial relations and barriers to promotion (e.g., Hall & Sandler, 1983; Sandler, 1986), and explored how traditional academic norms and cultures serve to exclude or devalue women and their scholarly contributions (Aisenberg & Harrington, 1988; Grumet, 1988; Pagano, 1990). In terms of demographics as well as institutional climate and support, extant literature on women faculty reveals lingering uncertainties about their full membership in academe. This study clarifies aspects of the senior professor role and meanings associated with professorial rank and status from the point of view of women who, by virtue of their senior rank, have successfully emerged from the proverbial academic pipeline. The results of this study inform aspiring women professors as well as faculty members and administrators who are involved in promotion and tenure related processes within academe. (Contains 1 table and 3 endnotes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A