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Monday, May 23, 2005
Women: Can't Live With Them, Can't Hire Them
So says a new study out of UC Davis covered by the Daily Cal (and here's the New York Times article that inspired the piece). All of the UCs schools, with the exception of Berkeley, are found to be lacking in females hirees. After a significant drop after the passage of Proposition 209, women now make up 37% of new system-wide faculty, reaching 1993-94 levels.
While Berkeley continues to improve faster than the UC system as a whole, two major points are still concerning. First, while Berkeley has had some progress, the administration's hiring practices are far from perfect, and there is a great disparity between departments. The article cites an interesting statistic: in the last ten years, 28 new faculty members have been brought into the UCB Math Department - none of them are women.
The reality of the matter is that the academic diversity of a university is one of the factors that make it exceptional. Campuses like Berkeley are supposed to be vast markets of new ideas, and a flood of the same ideology is not what anyone wants. The administration should be making it a priority to try to bring more women faculty on to campus, as well as applicants from lower income backgrounds, from different schools, from different states, from different political ideologies, etc. This is one of my pet issues, and will probably continue to be,
Secondly, while diversity is important, arbitrary quotas and numbers destroy whatever positive benefits that might have been brought from such a system. From the NYT article:
"U.C. should not be satisfied unless faculty hires contain at least 40 percent women, which would represent only a 4 percent increase over the 2003-4 hires," Professor West said. "As long as the percentage of women hires remains significantly below women's proportion of the Ph.D. pool, the data indicates that women continue to experience discrimination in the U.C. hiring process."
This is a dangerous path to walk down. First, not all people who complete Ph.D. programs go into education. Claiming this number for a guideline is basically affirmative action, and is a similar guideline to that in place for those trying to reinstitute the program on an undergraduate level. Both for political and practicality reasons, building quotas like these inhibits success. Some of the report's other suggestions have a much lower cost/impact ratio, and could help stimulate academic diversity in the UC system.
Here is a copy of the actual report: "Unprecedented Urgency: Gender Discrimination in Faculty Hiring at the University of California"Email This Post!
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