Inside Higher Ed, Productivity or Sexism?:
In discussions about the gender gap among tenured professors at research universities, there is little dispute that there are far more men than women with tenure in most disciplines. But why? Many have speculated that men are outperforming women in research, which is particularly valued over teaching and service at research universities. With women (of those with children) shouldering a disproportionate share of child care, the theory goes, they may not be able to keep up with publishing and research to the same extent as their male counterparts.
A study presented here Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association finds that those assumptions may be untrue in some disciplines. [Kate Weisshaar (Stanford), Measuring the Glass Ceiling Effect: An Assessment of Discrimination in Academia.] The study compared tenure rates at research universities in computer science, English and sociology -- and then controlled for research productivity.
Not only are men more likely than women to earn tenure, but in computer science and sociology, they are significantly more likely to earn tenure than are women who have the same research productivity. In English men are slightly (but not in a statistically significant way) more likely than women to earn tenure. ...
In sociology, she found that the odds of a woman earning tenure were 51 percent lower than for men, when controlling for research productivity. In computer science, the figure was 55 percent. Those gaps are "highly significant," she said. These figures suggest, Weisshaar said, that it's not that women have to find ways to become as productive as men, but that women must be more productive than men if they want to earn tenure at a research university.
The gap may be particularly striking given that studies have in the past found that female faculty members tend to face larger service burdens than do their male counterparts and that they spend more time on teaching. So in theory, men who do better in the tenure process should be doing so on the basis of research output.