Mothers find it harder to get tenure
By Kim Kelly
Daily Cougar Staff
Both male and female professors who have children early in their academic
careers have the exhausting task of juggling the responsibilities of academic
and parenthood. But according to a recent report published by the Chronicle
of Higher Education, it is women, not men, with families who hurt their
to achieve tenure.
The report, titled "Do Babies Matter: The Effect of Family Formation
on the Lifelong Careers of Women," found that "women who had at least one
completing five years of post-Ph.D. work were 24 percent less likely
in the sciences and 20 percent less likely in the humanities to achieve
tenure than men
who became fathers during that time." The report also stated that men
who started families early in their academic careers were more likely to
get tenure than
men who did not.
One reason women don't achieve tenure is because some of them quit the
tenure track, said Ann Christensen, an associate professor of English who
tenured at the University.
"This is the great unseen number: women who leave before coming up for
tenure because the system is too brutal for them," Christensen said.
The Presidential Commission on the Status of Women addressed some of
these concerns. In its final report to UH President Arthur K. Smith, the
suggested implementing a "stop-the-clock" program to assist men and
women with children who are on the tenure track.
The program would give professors an additional year to fulfill the
requirements for tenure, which typically include six published articles
and a book.
However, the University has not adopted a "stop-the-clock" program
or implemented any kind of family leave policy, Christensen said.
The University has not awarded tenure to female professors in the past
simply because they were not published or not published enough, said Martha
associate professor of communication and director of undergraduate
studies. With three daughters of her own, Haun knows the challenges many
faculty face when balancing family and academic life.
"We had no relatives closer than 300 miles, so juggling family and work
required strong organizational skills and sometimes the ability to survive
minimal amount of sleep," Haun said.
So much time is spent taking care of family obligations that many professors
struggle to find the time to write and get published.
"I just do not have the time or the energy to write a book ... the work
I do — lots of service (committee work, mentoring students) is not rewarded
recognized by the college as merit-worthy," Christensen said.
The final report prepared by the Presidential Commission on the Status
of Women also noted that many female faculty members were hesitant to take
numerous committee assignments for fear that it would detract from
teaching and research duties — two factors that determine promotions and
In addition, many females are underrepresented in higher-level staff
and faculty positions — only four out of 41 department heads are women.
University does seem to be making efforts to hire more females. In
2001, women accounted for more than 40 percent of new faculty hires, according
Despite the progress, many faculty members think the University still
has a long way to go, but Christensen says she is grateful for the change,
slow though it
may be. "I feel very privileged I am faculty. I think there are staff
women that have it way worse," she said.