Gender and the sociology faculty

In an earlier post, I reported on gender and the American Sociological Association’s (ASA) leaders, PhDs received, subject specialization, editors and editorial boards. Here is a little more data, which I’ll add to that post as well as posting it here.

Looking at the gender breakdown of PhDs, which became majority female in the 1990s, I wrote: “Producing mostly-female PhDs for a quarter of a century is getting to be long enough to start achieving a critical mass of women at the top of the discipline.” But I didn’t look at the tenure-ladder faculty, which is the next step in the pipeline to disciplinary domination.

To address that a little, I took a sample from the ASA’s 2015 Guide to Graduate Departments of Sociology, which I happened to get in the mail. Using random numbers, I counted the gender and PhD year for 201 full-time sociology faculty in departments that grant graduate degrees (that excludes adjuncts, affiliates, part-time, and emeritus faculty). This reflects both entrance into and attrition from the professoriate, so how it relates to the gender composition of PhDs will reflect everything from the job market through tenure decisions to retirement and mortality rates.

The median PhD year in my sample is 2000, and women are 47% of the sample. In fact, women earned 52% of sociology PhDs in the 1990s, but they are only 40% of the faculty with 1990s PhDs in my sample. After that, things improved for women. Women earned 60% of the PhDs in the 2000s, and they are 62% of current faculty with PhDs from the 2000s in this sample. So either we’re doing a better job of moving women from PhD completion into full-time faculty jobs, or the 2000s women haven’t been disproportionately weeded out yet.

Here is the breakdown of my sample, by PhD year and gender:

soc-prof-gender

With 15 years or so of women earning 60% of the PhDs, they should be headed toward faculty dominance, and that yet may be the case. If men and women get tenure and retire at the same rate, another decade or so should do it, but that’s a big “if.” I don’t read much into women’s slippage in the last few years, except that it’s clearly not a slam-dunk.

5 Comments

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5 responses to “Gender and the sociology faculty

  1. krippendorf

    One of the wild cards here is the extent to which “computational sociology/social science” will impact the distribution of jobs & PhD slots within the discipline in the next 5-15 years. Right at the moment, this subfield is pretty much all men, with very few exceptions. (E.g., ICCSS 2015 had 13 plenary speakers, 12 men.) The ratio doesn’t seem to be all that much different among PhD students.

    As a share of all sociology faculty, computational sociology (or whatever you want to call it) is small and concentrated in the elite institutions. But, the subfield is growing rapidly, and it will benefit from having comparatively large pots of public and private dollars to draw on at a time when most other subfields are scrambling for NSF-SBE/NIH scraps.

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  2. Chris Wienke

    That’s assuming tenure will still exist a decade from now.

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  3. Pingback: Quick correction on that 90-percent-of-faculty-are-White thing | Family Inequality

  4. Pingback: Year-end report | Family Inequality

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