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The Humanities, Arts, and Education

New Findings on Administrators and the Composition of Humanities Departments

What is the relationship between the gender and disciplinary background of senior administrators and the composition of the faculty at their institutions? Ron Ehrenberg (Cornell Univ.), an economist and member of the Humanities Indicators advisory committee, uses data from the Academy’s Humanities Department Surveys to explore this question.

April 11, 2016

Does the Gender or Disciplinary Background of Presidents, Provosts, and Deans Influence Humanities Departments’ Faculty Employment Patterns?

posted by Ronald G. Ehrenberg1

I have long been interested in whether the characteristics of academic leaders influence faculty employment patterns in higher education. In one recent study, colleagues and I collected panel data on the gender of trustees, presidents, and provosts of academic institutions and studied whether, holding constant other variables, the gender of academic leaders influences the speed with which academic institutions diversify their faculty across gender lines.2 We found that institutions with female presidents and provosts increase their share of female faculty over time at a more rapid rate. The magnitude of the effects of these female leaders was larger at smaller institutions, where central administrators typically play a larger role in faculty hiring decisions. We also found that a critical share of female trustees had to be reached before further increases in the share of female trustees were associated with more rapid increases over time in the share of female faculty at the institution.

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences granted me access to a restricted-access version of the two waves of the National Humanities Departmental Survey (NHDS), conducted in 2007–2008 and 2012–2013, which enabled my colleagues and me to explore two questions related to faculty employment patterns in the humanities departments of colleges and universities. First, does the gender of presidents, provosts, and deans influence the shares of humanities faculty who are women among tenured and tenure track, full-time nontenure track, and part-time nontenure track humanities faculty? Second, does the academic background of key senior administrators influence the shares of humanities department faculty with tenured or tenure track, full-time nontenure track, or part-time nontenure track appointments? Put simply, does the gender of academic leaders or their disciplinary backgrounds influence faculty employment patterns in humanities departments?   More... 

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