- Some 28% of women working for colleges believe they have been passed over for a promotion because of their gender, according to new survey data from Gallup.
- Hispanic and Asian women were more likely to say they missed an opportunity for career advancement due to gender than others, with 33% and 30% saying they thought they'd been passed over, respectively.
- A lower share of women also reported they were being paid fairly for their work than men. Only 35% of women agreed or strongly agreed they were paid fairly, versus 47% of men.
The new Gallup data comes at a time of high concern about whether higher ed treats women employees fairly and gives them adequate opportunities to advance in their careers.
Scholars have been debating evidence indicating the pandemic disproportionately hurt women researchers' publishing productivity — a key concern because of the academy's "publish or perish" culture. Concerns have also been raised since women are underrepresented in authority positions in the higher education sector.
Women make up 44% of tenure-track faculty but only 36% of full professors, according to the American Association of University Women. Only a third of college presidents are women, according to the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, and just 22% of presidencies at the 130 universities with the highest research activity are women, the Women's Power Gap Initiative said. Slightly more than a third of college governing board members are women, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges has found.
Some women are attributing lack of promotions to their gender, according to Gallup's new survey, which covers higher ed staff as well as faculty. Often, it's because they are becoming more aware of the issue, according to Stephanie Marken, executive director of education research at Gallup and the researcher behind the new survey.
"Women are looking for signals that they are working in an equitable workplace in a way that they never had before," she said. "Higher education is still a highly toxic workplace for a lot of women throughout the country. If you feel like you're being passed over for your gender, you don't feel respected every day when you walk into work."
A gap in opportunities exists beyond promotion, according to the Gallup survey, which includes responses from 10,594 faculty and staff members.
Only 23% of female respondents strongly agreed they have the same opportunities for advancement as coworkers with similar experience and past performance. Roughly one in three men strongly agreed with the same statement.
"It's not always a new job or a new promotion that academics are interested in," Marken said. "Sometimes it's things like serving on a board or providing leadership on a committee or in an organization within the institution."
She said opportunities for professional and personal development are highly valued in the education sector, and workers will take positions based on those benefits.
The perceived gender disparities can often be due to a lack of communication on institutions' part, according to Marken.
"Some of those institutions have done good work internally to study pay equity. But they haven't necessarily communicated it publicly," she said. "Leaders are not always articulating their value proposition as an organization for which people could choose to work."