Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Is Gender Parity Imminent in the Professiorate? Lessons from One Canadian University

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Is Gender Parity Imminent in the Professiorate? Lessons from One Canadian University

Article excerpt

This article examined issues and implications associated with gender parity in the professoriate. The findings, based on the results from one Canadian institution's most recent women's committee report, emphasize the importance of monitoring progress toward gender parity by examining potential indicators of gender imbalances such as gender differences in applicant pools, starting rank and salary, and promotion application and attainment. This article addresses implications for recruitment, hiring, and formalized reporting mechanisms that can contribute to ultimately attaining gender parity in academia.

Key words: post-secondary education, faculty hiring, status of women

Cet article porte sur les problemes et les incidences lies a la parite hommes-femmes dans le corps professoral universitaire. Les conclusions des auteures, basees sur les resultats d'un rapport recent prepare par un comite de femmes dans une universite canadienne, soulignent l'importance de suivre l'evolution de la question de la parite hommes-femmes en etudiant les indicateurs potentiels des desequilibres en la matiere, notamment les ecarts entre le nombre de femmes et d'hommes dans les bassins de candidats, le salaire et le rang de depart ainsi que les demandes de promotion et leur obtention. Cet article traite notamment des procedures de communication d'information sur le recrutement et l'embauche pouvant favoriser la parite hommes-femmes dans les universites.

Mots cles : education postsecondaire, embauche des membres du corps professoral, statut des femmes


Within the academic community, women are trying to achieve equity in terms of salary, rank, and status. Although some evidence exists to show improvement in the status of women at Canadian universities, evidence also suggests that inequities persist (e.g., Benschop & Brouns, 2003; Hannah, Paul, & Vethamany-Globus, 2002; Kite et al., 2001). On average, women continue to earn less than men, are employed in substantially lower numbers and ranks than men, and receive fewer promotions and tenured contracts than men (Canadian Association of University Teachers, 2006). Drakich and Stewart (2007) noted that, prior to the current situation in Canadian universities, where large numbers of retiring professors will be replaced, the 1960s was the last time that there were extensive faculty hirings. At that time, despite the fact that the number of full-time faculty members increased by more than 10,000 positions, there was a drop of one per cent in the number of female faculty members. The purpose of this article is to explore the potential for gender parity in academia drawing on information from one Canadian university. Although we recognize gender parity is not synonymous with gender equity (Rosenfeld, 2007), we believe a balance of male and female professors will create a context to achieve equitable treatment. Within a gender-balanced professoriate, there is increased likelihood both males and females will be involved in the establishment of practices intended to promote equity.

University equity and women's committees provide vehicles through which dialogue on gender equality and equity occur. However, based on data collected by the Canadian Association of University Teacher's (CAUT) women's committee, of the 62 Canadian universities, 25 (40%) do not have women's or equity-related committees at all. Only 18 (34%) Canadian universities have Status of Women Committees through their faculty associations (L. Rumleski, personal communication, February 19, 2007).

As Drakich and Stewart (2007) noted, the potential exists for significant change in the coming years. For example, Simpson's (2006) perspective regarding the "feminization of Canadian universities" highlighted the movement toward a closing gender gap in post-secondary senior administration. He noted that women lead (as university principals or presidents) half of the largest universities in Canada. …

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