The Status of Women (especially anthropologists) in Universities:
Some Notes and Bibliography

By Jane H. Hill

[Prepared for 1996 AAA COSWA Roundtable Luncheon for Graduate Students]

Bad News

Women get: less support in graduate programs, are more likely to be hired in less prestigious institutions, are more likely to be hired in temporary positions, face discrimination in promotion and opportunity to move into administration, in recognition of professional reputation, in funding. The "chilly climate" means subtle discriminatory treatment daily by students and colleagues, facing double binds about normal forms of professional self-assertion.

Good News

Gap at hire seems to be closing (national surveys and numbers below).

What to do?

Grad School and Job Search: Network with fellow students (reading and writing groups, etc.). Use your faculty advisors: don't hesitate to ask for help, provide appropriate materials to advisors for grant application and job search support in a timely way. Keep them informed of what you are doing, give them good papers even if papers weren't for their class. go to meetings, including local ones, give papers, meet people, develop strong profile of professional commitment early. Present a positive image (brag in a nice way, don't whine, don't behave in ways that could be construed as neurotic or difficult).

Come to job interviews and job offers prepared: Be ready at interviews with fluent raps on your research and teaching plans, your teaching philosophy, why you would be an asset for dept. x, intelligent questions about department and campus resources (e.g., "Will the library be able to get the books and journal subscriptions I will need for my research?" "Will I be able to teach a graduate seminar in my area?"). At offer time, be ready with requests. It's appropriate to ask for (a) more money, (b) a longer-term contract, (c) equipment and space, (d) moving expenses, (e) T.A.'s/R.A.'s to help you, (f) a reduced teaching load the first term/year, (g) a job for your partner (this should come up at the early stages of your contact with a hiring institution) (h) a mortgage or rent subsidy, (i) assistance with child care, (j) pilot funds for research, etc. The more you have on your list, the more negotiating room you have (e.g., "Unfortunately, our offer to you is already at the cap for a first-year assistant professor, so we can't move on salary." [Note: you should have information so you can catch lies. Thus, this might be answered by, "Oh, but I was talking to Jack Smith, and I know that last fall he started above the cap. Can we look into the procedures for above-scale hiring?" I for one would try for more salary above all things; entry base is really important, since raises are few and are determined as a percentage of the base.] But instead, how about $2000 in research funds for three years?") Of course, the prospective employer may say "No" to everything you ask for (actually, lost of schools really don't have much in the way of resources), at which point you have to ask yourself how much you want this particular job. But don't let them see fear! If you are lucky enough to have other interviews or offers, either active or potentially coming, let them know ("Oregon told me they'll call me by Sunday; I felt very good about my interview there"). don't be afraid to ask for a delay in accepting an offer if you think another one will be forthcoming. Don't be afraid to tell college A what university B has offered you (unless it's lousy).

On-the-job strategies

Network with other faculty members, male and female, including outside your department. Associations of women faculty, women's gender studies study groups and colloquium series are an excellent way to meet other women faculty. Use university resources for support (e.g., small grants, teaching improvement services, development office). Keep track of what is the norm in your department and institution for salaries (in state schools these will be public information; for private schools, annual salary issue in the AAUP journal Academe will be helpful), teaching assignments, committee assignments. Be sure you understand your school's rules about tenure clock, family-pregnancy leave policies, opportunities for research leave ("junior sabbaticals"), etc. But it's not a good idea to overuse these opportunities (that is, don't be gone all the time--they hired you because they needed you!) Don't hesitate to make your desires (for instance, about teaching or committee assignments) known, including in writing. Ask for an informal conference with your department head or dean; once a term is not too often for discussions of your plans and concerns. Cultivate senior members of your department, especially those with whom you share common interests. Don't hesitate to include yourself in lunch groups, volley-ball games, etc. Be reliable and solid about your committee work, and don't hesitate to contribute in faculty meetings (but be ready to hear that your idea actually came from a male colleague). Be sure you have good relationships with your departmental staff; be friendly and professional with them, give small gifts or nice cards at appropriate seasons for special favors. Keep regular and ample office hours, but don't ever be afraid to tell students to make an appointment if they come by outside those hours (an "open door" policy is not a good idea for a junior woman). Be sure that students know your status (e.g., assign one or more of your own publications, introduce yourself as "Dr.", etc. It's probably a good idea to err on the side of formality in dress and classroom manner). Know your school's code of conduct for students and don't hesitate to use it if you face behavioral or academic problems. Be sure you use T.A./R.A. support appropriately. Discuss departmental customs with senior faculty, plan what T.A./R.A. can do that will support you best, make your needs clear, be supportive but firm. Be careful about accepting "low-status" assignments (e.g., being faculty advisor for a student club, reviewing books). Don't be afraid to ask your department head to protect you from too much committee work or from unreasonably demanding class assignments. Find out about the local balance of teaching and research. Solid teaching, which you can document with good syllabi, imaginative assignments, innovative techniques as well as with decent evaluations, is increasingly important, even in the "research universities," but there are very few places where it is not also important to publish. Research funding is wonderful if you can get it, and you should keep trying, but don't believe stories that you can't get promoted if you don't have it (the major federal agencies are mostly funding at such low percentages that nobody would ever get tenure if this were true). Brag--if you get a teaching award or a nice grant or an article accepted, let your department head know in writing with copies of the award or letter. He or see will be delighted to have materials to use with people higher up. Don't get caught unawares by the stages of the tenure clock. Be sure you know the schedule for when your materials will be required (for instance, your "2-year review" files may be required by October of your second year!). keep good files (save copies of all syllabi, evaluations, correspondence with granting agencies and journal and press editors, reprints, notifications of special awards or commendations, etc.) so that you can be ready to prepare materials for review. Two-year, 4-year and tenure (usually in the 6th year) are usually the major formal reviews, but your school is likely to require annual evaluations also. Start thinking early about who your "outside reviewers" for tenure might be. This is different from job applications, where your dissertation committee is serving as your references. At tenure time the majority of your evaluators must be people who are "neutral," that is, people who were never your teachers or departmental colleagues (although you will want support also from insiders with whom you have co-taught, collaborated in research, etc.). They should be people from other institutions with whom you share interests, correspond, see at meetings, etc., in ranks at or above the one to which you aspire. Your department will choose some of your evaluators, but they will usually ask you for a list of appropriate people as well. If you realize that you might want to have your tenure clock delayed (e.g., you have a new baby, you get sick, your kid gets sick, your partner gets sick), start negotiations immediately, and know local policies (get info from Women's Faculty Association, or the local AAUP chapter).

What if you experience discrimination in salary, teaching and committee assignments, office space?

Use your networks. Get a reality check with a trusted female colleague. Start with relatively informal measures--make appointments with department head or dean, and be armed with documentation and ideas for how to solve the problem (e.g., "You may not have been aware of this, but I've discovered that my salary at hire was $3000 less than that of the other three assistant professors who were hired last year in this college. I know I wouldn't normally be eligible a special merit increase, in the first year, but that might be an avenue we could look at to solve this problem, especially since I've done good thing X, Y, and Z.") Keep a record of these early contacts, in case you need to move to more formal grievance procedures. See if other female colleagues share your concerns and might be willing to join you in seeking change.

What if you face sexual harassment?

Again, check with a trusted colleague (maybe Joe has been hugging everybody, male and female, for years). Bernice Sandler recommends starting with humor. "I can't believe you did/said that!" Escalate to "I want you to know that I really don't appreciate that kind of attention. I'd like for us to have a solid collegial relationship, and you are making that very hard for me." (In writing, perhaps, and keep a copy, dated). Keep a private record of incidents, in case you have to more into more formal grievance procedures. Fortunately, the law is now on your side.

if you begin to think that your problem will probably only be solved by more formal procedures, it is worth the money to consult very early with a reliable attorney with a reputation in employment discrimination cases. Your women's faculty association or AAUP can recommend such a person. Such a consultation has three functions: First, to be sure that you know what steps are required by, for instance, your state civil rights commission, in case you should ultimately have to sue. Second, to determine whether a lawsuit is appropriate and to plan for it if it is. Last, as a weapon: you should let it be known that you are consulting an attorney. It is amazing how this will focus the attention of a foot-dragging institution. Sometimes a mere letter of inquiry from a lawyer to your school's attorney will solve your problem immediately.

Some Statistics from the 1996 AAA Guide

Ten major 4-field Ph.D. Departments (U Arizona, UC-Berkeley, U Chicago, Columbia U, Emory U, Harvard U, U Illinois, U Michigan, NYU, U Pennsylvania)

Ten Desirable Liberal Arts Colleges with Anthropology Departments (not Anthropology/Sociology) offering B.A. in Anthropology (Amherst, Beloit, Colby, Colorado, Dartmouth, Franklin and Marshall, Grinnell, Hamilton, Ithaca, Macalester)

Ten Institutions offering M.A. in Anthropology (Alabama, Ball State, CSU-Fullerton, Cincinnati, Colorado State, E. Carolina, Idaho State, Maryland, Nevada-Las Vegas, New Mexico State U)


Lutz, Catherine. 1990. The erasure of women's writings in sociocultural anthropology. American Ethnologist 17:611-627.

Nelson, Margaret C., Sarah M. Nelson, and Alison Wylie, Eds. 1994. Equity Issues for Women in Archaeology. Archaeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association, number 5. Arlington, VA: American Anthropological Association.

Sandler, Bernice R. 1986. The Campus Climate Revisited: Chilly for Women Faculty, Administrators, and Graduate Students. Washington, DC: Project on the Status of Education of Women. Association of American Colleges.

____________. 1993. Women faculty at work in the classroom, or, why it still hurts to be a woman in labor. Washington, DC: Center for Women Policy Studies (202/872-1770).

SCIENCE Vol. 255 (1992). Women in Science Issue. (Repeated in subsequent years).

Webster, Cynthia M., and Michael L. Burton. 1992. Summary report on the academic employment of women in anthropology. Anthropology Newsletter 33(2). (AN publishes statistics regularly; Chronicle of Higher Education is another good source).

Zuckerman, Harriet, Jonathan R. Cole, and John T. Bruen, eds. 1992. The Outer Circle: Women in the Scientific Community. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Committee on the Status of Women in Anthropology

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