Obstacles to Female Full Professorship: Another Civil-Rights Issue


Diane Halpern

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Monitor on Psychology






American Psychological Association

Publication Date



Intriguing hypotheses, social trends and even disappointments can be found in archival data sets. For many years I have been tracking the annual data on higher education published in The Chronicle of Higher Education. The most recent data show that the percentage of full professors at all U.S. colleges who are female is still low--only 22 percent. The higher percentage of female faculty among untenured and associate professors has not been advancing rapidly into the ranks of full professors, and the higher percentages at lower ranks do not necessarily mean that equity is "in the pipeline." The slow progress of women into the highest academic positions could be due to many reasons, but one major roadblock is the few choices available in academe for managing the multiple demands of work and family. Both women and men want to be loving partners and nurturing parents while advancing their careers, and both benefit from the rewards of multiple roles. But the way universities award promotion and tenure works against anyone with caregiving responsibilities--child or elder care or care for disabled family members--tasks that men have only slowly begun to share. Given these data, it should not be surprising that I made the integration of work, family and children a main initiative for my presidential year. (See Public Policy, Work and Families: The Report of the APA Presidential Initiative on Work and Families.)


Originally published by the American Psychological Association. HTML fulltext available through remote link.