Thursday, November 29, 2018
Inside Higher Ed, The Impact of Female Chairs:
It’s common advice: to increase faculty gender diversity, increase the gender diversity of institutional leaders. But what about department chairs, a kind of middle-management position -- do they make a difference? And beyond gender diversity, does having a female chair help improve the success of female academics?
The answer to much of the above is yes, according to a new working paper finding that in departments with female chairs, gender gaps in publication and tenure rates are smaller among assistant professors [Female Managers and Gender Disparities: The Case of Academic Department Chairs]. The pay gap also shrinks. After departments replace a male chair with a female chair, they see an increase of about 10 percent in the number of incoming female graduate students, with no change in students’ ability levels.
Yet the takeaway is not that it’s “always necessarily better for a woman to work in a female-chaired department, or that chairs show favoritism towards individuals of their own gender,” the paper cautions. Rather, it says, the results reinforce other findings suggesting that “managers from different backgrounds often take different approaches, highlighting the value of diversity among decision-makers.”
Further work is needed to understand the management practices that may “help all individuals and academic departments achieve their full potential, regardless of gender or other characteristics.”
The paper, “Female Managers and Gender Disparities: The Case of Academic Department Chairs,” was written by Andrew Langan, a Ph.D. candidate in economics at Princeton University who has previously foundthat graduate economics programs with better outcomes for women tend to hire more female professors, enable adviser-student contact, offer “collegial” research seminars and employ senior faculty members who are aware of gender issues.