Notes on faculty gender balance at BYU

Michael Austin reported in a 2016 post that women constitute just 11.7% of BYU-Idaho faculty members. This appears to be an error, although the error isn’t Michael’s fault. As he noted, the best source of information on the demographics of university personnel is the Department of Education’s IPEDS database. At the time of his writing, the most current final release of survey results was for 2013. But the survey responses are self-reported, and whoever was tasked with the survey at BYU-Idaho that year seems to have made a hash of things.

A graph of faculty balance at BYU-Idaho based on IPEDS data since 2002 looks like this:

I suspect that a third of BYU-Idaho’s women faculty members didn’t quit en masse in 2013 and then return by 2015, but rather that whatever intern or student worker or newly hired administrator was told to fill out the IPEDS survey for 2013 simply made a mess of it that year. Whatever the case may have been, the current percentages of women on faculty at the BYU campuses are all fairly similar: BYU-Idaho at 18.7%, BYU-Hawii at 19%, BYU-Provo at 20.4%.

This shouldn’t detract from Michael’s overall point, of course—there are too few women teaching at BYU campuses. But it does raise the question of why BYU-Provo, a large urban campus with graduate programs, a research mission, better connections with LDS graduate student networks, massively superior resources, incomparably better opportunities for dual-career couples, and much greater flexibility in hiring and salaries, doesn’t do much better than BYU-Idaho, a rural, isolated, exclusively teaching-focused school with heavy teaching loads.

* * *

For tracking university hiring histories, we have not only IPEDS data, but also the university catalog’s list of faculty (including year of hire, in the case of BYU-Idaho), as well as public information about recent hires. (In the following, I am going to ignore BYU-Hawaii and LDS Business College entirely because I have no particular knowledge of or insight into those schools.) This additional information provides a useful confirmation that BYU-Idaho’s percentage of women faculty is in fact close to 20%, and also lets us dig a bit deeper into institutional history and current distribution across the campuses.

If we look at BYU-Idaho faculty cohorts by year of hire (for faculty that are still at the university as of the 2016-17 catalog year, of course), hiring of women appears to have increased over the decades, but not consistently.

hiring cohort women (percent)
1970-1990 (n  =  41) 9.8%
1991-2000 (n = 122) 16.4%
2001-2005  (n = 126) 10.3%
2006-2010  (n = 97) 21.6%
2011-2015 (n = 140) 22.9%

The percentage of women (and, incidentally, the percentage of faculty with Ph.D.s as well; someone was planning ahead) rose substantially in the 1990s before two-year Ricks College became four-year BYU-Idaho, but then declined sharply in the early 2000s.

Information published online by BYU-Idaho about new faculty for 2012-2017 suggests that the percentage of women continues to rise.

hiring cohort women (percent)
2012 (n = 48) 22.9%
2013 (n = 40) 22.5%
2014 (n = 51) 19.6%
2015 (n = 56) 32.1%
2016 (n = 42) 28.6%
2017 (n = 26) 30.8%

But the increase in women hired may not translate into a long-term increase in women faculty overall. The articles only distinguish temporary from CFS-track faculty (the rough equivalent of tenure-stream faculty) in 2012 and 2015. In 2012, women’s share of CFS and temporary faculty match their overall percentage (22-23%). In 2015, women achieve parity with men as 50% of temporary faculty hires, but constitute only 20.6% of CFS-track faculty hires.

BYU-Provo’s undergraduate catalog does not identify the year of hire, so we have to rely on the less precise year of terminal degree to get a sense of historical developments in Provo. If we use year of terminal degree to construct cohorts, we find that Rexburg and Provo are converging in the percentage of women hired as faculty members.

 

* * *

If one were in a position to increase the hiring of women faculty, one might look first at the most promising targets: large departments with frequent hires.

Over the decade from 2006-2015, eight departments at BYU-Idaho combined hired only one woman: History, Geography, and Political Science (1 of 11), with no women hired in Religious Education (out of 21 hires), Biology (11), Business Management (11), Mechanical Engineering (9), Accounting (6), Design and Construction Management (6), and Physics (5). (As of this writing, religious education at BYU-Idaho has just hired its first woman as a faculty member.)

By way of comparison, six departments hired women for a third or more of their open positions: Nursing (8 of 11), Communication (3 of 5), Teacher Education (5 of 9), Home and Family (7 of 16), Health, Recreation, and Human Performance (5 of 14) and Mathematics (5 of 15), as did four additional departments with fewer than 5 hires (Geology, Theater and Dance, Languages and International Studies, and Sociology and Social Work).

BYU-Provo’s college structure and academic ranks make reporting a bit more complicated. Looking again at the 2016-17 undergraduate catalog, women are 40% of BYU’s clinical and teaching-track faculty, including 50% or more of assistant teaching professors and associate clinical professors. But among CFS-track faculty, the percentage of women declines by rank from 23.4% at the assistant level to 18.3% at the associate and 9.2% at the full professor level.

The (small) College of Nursing stands out with 9 out of 11 women as CFS faculty, followed by Education (36.8%). The rest of the colleges are substantially lower, most notably Religious Education (10.5%), Management (9.2%), Physical and Mathematical Sciences (8.2%), and Engineering and Technology (1.0%, or one woman with 100 male colleagues).

That is to say: BYU’s faculty gender balance is dragged down even more by its science, engineering, and business faculty than by its religion faculty.

BYU departments where women constitute a third or more of the faculty include Nursing, Dance, Teacher Education, German and Russian, Communication Disorders, Counseling Psychology and Special Education, and French and Italian.

Departments whose faculty are fewer than 5% women include Economics, Physiology and Developmental Biology, Plant and Wildlife Sciences, Accountancy, Mechanical Engineering, Art (0%), Chemical Engineering (0%), Civil and Environmental Engineering (0%), Computer Science (0%), Electrical and Computer Engineering (0%), Finance (0%), Geography (0%), Instructional Psychology and Technology (0%), and the School of Technology (0%).

* * *

What might the future hold? If we take history as a rough guide, and the priority of gender balance doesn’t change, we might expect the percentage of women faculty at BYU campuses to rise to around 30% over the next 30 years.

That’s not a satisfying answer, but it’s important to avoid magical thinking. There is no super accreditor that will force BYU to make faster progress. BYU has no shortage of eager applicants, its students are generally happy with where they are, students get hired and accepted into graduate programs after graduation, and there are numerous well-regarded programs on campus. Enrollments, employment, and rankings will not suffer if things go on as they have been. Any effective impetus for faster change will have to come from within and work within the institutional context.

Faster progress toward gender balance is certainly possible, however. A faculty with 40% women 25 years from now would represent considerable progress and could be achieved through a sustained commitment to gender balance with support from top administrators. If the College of Engineering and Technology started hiring men and women in equal numbers now, for example, and provided a supportive environment at all ranks for the women it hired, it could be composed of 25% women faculty members in 20 years, roughly where the department of mechanical engineering at the University of Colorado is today. Other heavily male departments could see similar rises of 15-20% or more above their current level.

And those would be excellent outcomes, about the highest rates of progress that can be expected: Those hoping for faster progress need to be realistic about the pace of change imposed by faculty replacement through the processes of retirement and hiring, particularly for fields that are male-majority nationally. If BYU manages to increase its hiring of women engineers only to 25% rather than 50% each year—still a dramatic increase over current levels—women would still constitute just over 10% of the faculty in 20 years.

As a BYU alumnus, the parent of a BYU student, and a former BYU-Idaho temporary faculty member, I’m something of a minor stakeholder in the discussion, and I think the BYU campuses should hire more women as faculty members. There are national structural issues that are outside of BYU’s control, such as the oversupply of male Ph.D.s and faculty in many of the scientific and technical fields that enjoy broad public and political support, while opportunities in more balanced or female-majority fields in the humanities and social sciences are stagnant or shrinking. In addition, BYU necessarily reflects the church’s values, which certainly have an effect on the educational and career choices people make in ways that likely decrease the number of qualified women applicants for faculty jobs. But the current level of hiring women faculty is so low that much more could be done, right now, even with the existing national trends and institutional context.

54 comments for “Notes on faculty gender balance at BYU

  1. queuno
    December 5, 2018 at 11:33 pm

    Are there any statistics showing applicants to openings in each college over the same time period?

  2. Moss
    December 5, 2018 at 11:36 pm

    Great analysis. Thank you.

  3. Jason
    December 6, 2018 at 12:51 am

    There aren’t public statistics, but individual colleges may or may not be willing to share their experience. I’m faculty in the Manufacturing Engineering department, and we would absolutely love to fill our open spot with a woman. We’ve tried for several years, but female members of the church with a PhD in manufacturing engineering are still too rare (though definitely not non-existent!) If you know anyone qualified, send them to yjobs.byu.edu and they can search for it. Looks like there are 39 open faculty positions across BYU-Provo that we could fill with women – but they can only be filled if people apply!

  4. Wec
    December 6, 2018 at 2:47 am

    Is the argument this is all discrimination in hiring or that discrimination is created warped minds that adopt a false consciousness of preference?

    Is there any consideration to the idea that Jordan Peterson has been arguing, citing data, that as societies become more egalitarian the gender preferences and differences actually maximize?

    Meaning if latter-day saint society, women don’t become professors this is actually a positive example of how free women are to follow their preferences?

    Why is that possibility not considered? It seems very very likely that this is an niche reflection of interest preferences intersecting with lifestyle preferences, rather than evidence of hiring boards in multiple departments of being anti women.

    In either case, I realize the thought is, it’s good to have more women representation. But you can’t have that thought without thinking it’s good to have less men, or it’s bad to have so many men. So it’s bad that so many women become nursing professors?

  5. Jon Miranda
    December 6, 2018 at 8:35 am

    Why does there have to be a gender balance? Is there a gender balance in nursing school? Is there a gender balance in dental hygiene school?

  6. Robert Osborn
    December 6, 2018 at 9:27 am

    Why should there be balance when traditional LDS teaching values the father as the primary bread winner?

  7. ReTx
    December 6, 2018 at 11:12 am

    The challenge with Jordan Peterson’s argument for me is that LDS society isn’t actually egalitarian. Neither is US culture in terms of raising kids without strong gender roles.

    I recently read an article talking about how one of the best things we could do for disenfranchised white male workers is get them into nursing and other support medical positions where there are huge needs and not enough workers. But the white male workers see such a move as demeaning (my language). I would love to see a gender balance in such roles. It would be great for US workers.

    It will be interesting to see what happens over the next 20 years as the Millenials and GenZ work themselves into more power positions. The idea of SAHM is dying in my area. The vast majority of young LDS moms are working with not a few dad staying home with the kids. Admittedly, I live outside the Jello-Belt.

    One of the things I think we have to deal with in terms of encouraging more women to work for the BYUs is all the negative stories from women already employed there about the rampant sexism within the departments (true or not). Having heard quite a few (some from family members), I would pretty much pick any other university rather than BYU for employment. Sexism is so 1980s for me. I wouldn’t want to deal with that.

  8. Wally
    December 6, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    Gender equality is certainly an admirable goal, but there are other factors to consider. An effort to achieve gender equality may be achieved by discriminating against better-qualified male applicants. What do you do when you have three final applicants—two women and one man—for a position and the best qualified is the male? Do you choose a woman just to achieve gender equality? Ideally, there will be equal numbers of qualified men and women, but the world is rarely ideal. The only way to solve this disparity fairly is to find ways to get more women to seek PhDs in fields women tend to not be as interested in. Similarly, can we somehow get more men to seek PhDs in fields such as nursing and elementary education? Do we want this sort of equality? These are difficult questions, but gender equality in employment outcomes is a complicated picture that may simply be unachievable without discriminating against someone.

  9. Mark B.
    December 6, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    If gender equality means that the ratio of male to female employees matches the ratio in the population as a whole, then it is not an admirable goal.

  10. Robert Osborn
    December 6, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    I’m tired of the whole gender equality thing. Men are better at some things and women are better at some things. Men and women can still he equal in importance in society, but when we seek to try to make gender equality in all things all we do is diminsh our divine roles. This gender equality thing has diminished the father’s role as breadwinner and mother as homemaker. I’m not suggesting women shouldn’t work, just that working to earn money is what men are really good at.

  11. Lily
    December 6, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    Rob:
    1) Studies are showing that when women make up at least 30% of the decision makers/leaders outcomes are better. Profits rise, bankruptcy and legal problems lower, employee turnover goes down, etc. It is clear that multiple voices are needed to make an organization run effectively.

    2) Over half the women in the LDS Church are single. We have to be our own breadwinners. Women shouldn’t have to starve or take pink-color/low paying jobs just because somewhere some man is supporting his family.

    Wally:
    We can take the same resume, with the exact same content and change the name: John Smith, Joan Smith, Juan Hernandez, Juanita Hernandez, etc. The name that suggestions a white male is always perceived to be “more qualified” even though the content is exactly the same. So to say we just need to take the “most qualified” person is misleading.

  12. Lily
    December 6, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    I think my head is going to explode. It depends on why there is gender inequality. It is well established the white males are given UNCONSCIOUS preference. That needs to change.

    Men aren’t really good at making money. That’s why a lot of woman, that banked on having a husband support them, are in financial trouble.

  13. Jack of Hearts
    December 6, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    Re: Lily’s point 1, that is also the Church’s position, at least according to the handbook: “The bishop seeks input from Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary leaders in all matters considered by the ward council. The viewpoint of women is sometimes different from that of men, and it adds essential perspective to understanding and responding to members’ needs.” We can’t argue that men and women are fundamentally different and then turn around and also say that it’s not necessary to have women.

  14. December 6, 2018 at 1:13 pm

    I don’t know what the ideal gender balance would be. Probably somewhere in between 40% and 60% women faculty, I’d guess. I think it’s safe to say that 20% is still too low, especially with several large departments in the range of 0-10%.

    The problem with saying it’s all just sexism and harassment is that sexism and harassment are issues throughout academia, and most universities still manage to have a more even balance between men and women. Harassment shouldn’t be tolerated, but it’s not at all clear that it’s the source of the problem, or that addressing harassment would solve the problem.

    There’s nothing wrong with someone deciding, No, I do not want to major in mechanical engineering (it’s a choice I once made). Or, No, I do not want to spend 7 years in graduate school. Or, No, I do not want to work in academia. Or, No, I am stepping away from a job that is incompatible with the happiness of my family and my vision of human thriving (again, another decision I’ve had the occasion to make). I don’t like the metaphor of a “leaky pipeline” in the sciences because it assumes the only point of the whole process is to move all the oil to its destination without spilling.

    Jason, thanks very much for your insight, and I suspect that most departments are quite eager to hire women. I still think it’s departments like yours that will have to shoulder most of the burden of addressing gender imbalances, simply because the scientific and technical fields have the most ground to make up and have the most opportunities to hire new faculty. As much as I don’t like the “leaky pipeline” metaphor, has your department looked into where qualified women are going? Is the problem with attracting them to the undergraduate major, or completion, or grad school opportunities, or convincing qualified applicants to come to BYU? In any case, I hope your department has had that conversation.

  15. Rob Osborn
    December 6, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    Lily,
    There no doubt that women are needed in the workforce. The reality though is that men will always make up the larger percentage of the workforce. Mens bodies are made to be workhorses. Im not being sexist, rude, or anything like that, its just that when general work needs to get done, its men doing it. Our brains are wired for it, our bodies have the muscle.

  16. Brian
    December 6, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    Rob, you are talking about ‘work’ in a the sense of another century. Workforce is less and less what you think it is. Like less manual labor. Also, “Our brains are wired for it”? Wow. Yes, I’ll call that sexist. Or ignorant. Your choice.

  17. A Turtle Named Mack
    December 6, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    But, Rob – teaching at a university doesn’t require a workhorse body. Teaching isn’t something that men are better at than women (and, women are not better at this than men, either). Very good studies have shown that men aren’t better at math (or science, or technological “stuff”) than women. That inequality exists in these areas is shameful – particularly for a Church that professes to value the contributions of women. We’re not talking about plowing fields, constructing buildings, or hunting big game with our bare hands (we could, but we’ll leave that alone for now). We’re talking about work that no reasonable person could conclude men are predisposed to perform. Of course, there are just too many unreasonable people.

  18. Rob Osborn
    December 6, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    Brian, contrary to what some people think, the large majority of jobs require physical manual labor and plain and simply truthful speaking, men are better equipped genetically to do physically demanding tasks faster and more efficiently. Thats just the facts. Work also requires math skills. Its been a well documented fact that a mans brain is better at performing spatial cognitive tasks which make up a large part of everything from general labor to science and engineering. Call 8t sexist if you want, I guess facts are sexist, who would have known.

  19. ReTx
    December 6, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    So what you are saying, Rob, is that men should focus on the jobs they are good at: Manual Labor. And let women take the jobs that are more cerebral, where either sex can excel. ‘Cause that comes off as a bit extreme to me…

    You’ll have to site some peer-reviews sources on the math/science/engineering bias toward men’s brains. If nothing else, there’s more to each of those employment areas than just spatial cognition. I’ve got a daughter majoring in math at a very well regarded science/math university. Guess what… More girls are majoring in math than boys and doing just fine.

    “I’m not suggesting women shouldn’t work, just that working to earn money is what men are really good at.” My salary and the salary of every single one of the female attorneys I work with, not to mention the female accountants, civil workers, IT workers, CFOs, etc. says this is garbage.

  20. BRian
    December 6, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    Well, Rob, sure, if you only cite one portion of the studies (spatial) to excuse your sexist comments, then facts are sexist in your (male) favor. Go dig a little deeper. But please don’t dig yourself a deeper hole.

  21. December 6, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    Rob Osborn: This is not a useful tangent, since we’re talking about university teaching and not ditch digging. Since there are plenty of engineering departments with less skewed gender ratios at other universities, appealing to sex-based differences is not going to work as a justification for inaction.

  22. Rob Osborn
    December 6, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    Folks, im just stating some simple facts. Men and women compliment each other perfevtly. Neither is one smarter than the other. Its just that when it comes to working to prov8de monetarily, generally men are better equipped. Thats not sexist, unless you think our Creator is sexist.

  23. A Turtle Named Mack
    December 6, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    Rob, men are only better equipped to provide, monetarily, because the jobs that pay money have employed sexist hiring policies for decades. And I won’t do the research for you, but you really do need to look at the actual research, because it refutes each of the assumptions you make about men being “smarter” in ANY area. Those are just the facts – facts based on legit studies. And, with Jonathan, we’re talking about teaching at a university, to which none of your assumptions apply, anyway.

  24. Lily
    December 6, 2018 at 5:56 pm

    I don’t think our Creator is sexist at all. In fact I have a strong testimony that he has carefully guided me through life, including my Math and the Law degrees.

  25. Xenophon
    December 6, 2018 at 8:57 pm

    What is “gender balance”? Does “gender balance” really mean hiring equal numbers of women and men at universities? The word “progress” figures 5 times in this blog post. What is that? Progress toward what? Why is it assumed that progress necessarily means more women in the work force or more female faculty?

    Let’s imagine that after some period of time women will constitute 50% of BYU employees. A perfect “gender balance” achieved… Then what? How will progress happen after that?

    If a blog post is written by 1 male, does that mean I should only believe half of it?

  26. December 6, 2018 at 9:07 pm

    “It is well established the white males are given UNCONSCIOUS preference”

    Citation please.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-false-science-of-implicit-bias-1507590908

  27. Robert Osborn
    December 6, 2018 at 10:00 pm

    ATNM,
    No, many theories exist why men get paid more. It’s mainly common sense. Why is it that Men score higher in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) than women? Is it possible that our creation is geared toward roles. Man is the designated breadwinner in a family as revealed by God. Is it no wonder then that God would give man the tools to succeed in that? It’s a pretty well established fact that the biggest margin between men and women is in spatial reasoning. Spatial reasoning is directly related to job site related problem solving where spatial reasoning in the brain- seeing an object or potential object to be engineered will look like in place, and underpins math and science cognitive ability. What that amounts to is men are literally wired to solve problems and get work done. Now, that said, both genders score relatively equal in general intelligence, one gender isn’t smarter than the other.

  28. December 6, 2018 at 10:17 pm

    Lily, I don’t think you statement about female applicants in STEM fields being selected against is necessarily accurate (2:1 hiring preference in favour of females)

    This doesn’t mean there aren’t barriers, but it does suggest being more precise in what we think is actually happening….

    https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/04/08/1418878112.short

  29. Clark
    December 6, 2018 at 11:02 pm

    Weird, my comments from earlier today are gone. Some people have already made the same points so I’ll just say a few other things.

    Robert, I think the question is what is genetic and what is social. But beyond that even if women and men are different in ability with respect to a specific skill, there’s typically bell curve like for each that typically overlaps a great deal. i.e. even if there are differences in aggregate typically there’s a large area of overlap of skills. With respect to professors though, there’s a big question on the social side of the equation. Maybe women don’t prefer certain fields or do as well simply because there aren’t enough women professors. That may be due to unconscious bias, to the differing ways men and women learn, or just having role models.

    Now there are arguments against that. Primarily that in the Middle East, a very patriarchal society that’s also typically poor relative to the west, women are very represented in STEM. In nordic countries which are the most egalitarian with strong anti-patriarchal movements, women are far less represented in STEM. This illustrates two things though. First that women can do STEM. Second that they most likely prefer not to do STEM. (Theories abound as to why but a common one is that they want more predictability about hours – something STEM often can’t offer)

    In any case even if women don’t pick STEM out of preference, it doesn’t follow that it wouldn’t be extremely helpful to have women as STEM professors. That’s because the diversity can add something socially to the department (mitigating sexist behaviors if nothing else) but also because they can be role models and mentors to the female students who do like STEM.

    Put an other way, what’s true of the aggregate isn’t necessarily true of the individuals.

    Xenophon, gender balance isn’t really a meaningful term IMO. However much like equality, we may not be able to define what absolute equality is, but we can recognize when a situation is significantly unequal. By way of analogy I can’t define baldness perfectly. (If a person has a few hairs left, are they still bald? What’s the number of hairs where they cease to be bald?) It doesn’t mean I can’t say one person is balder than an other. So we have to be careful not to confuse comparisons with absolute criteria.

    Lily, a lot depends upon what sense of the term “sexist” is meant. In a very common sense of the term if there’s unequal difference then that’s sexist. So if God in some strong sense determined our bodies and men are strong but women aren’t, then people would say that’s sexist. The typical response is that the values are the same. So men might be stronger, but that doesn’t matter in a value judgment. The problem then is what counts as value and that values have to be equal. However that causes all sorts of problems. I’d note that within the myriad of schools of feminism there’s no agreement on how to deal with this.

    Rob, even if men on average are better at some jobs then men on average are, it doesn’t mean that all men are better than all women. So I think you’re making that aggregate vs. individual fallacy I mentioned before. Further physical jobs vary a great deal. For instance my roommate was a fire fighter for the forestry service and there were many women in the team. Were they as good as the top tier of men? Not in terms of lifting and carrying. Were they good enough? Sure. Were some better at certain other parts of the job? Yes. The problem is any job typically makes use of a variety of skills. I hire someone who can lift, empty and stack heavy 70 lbs bags of beans but they aren’t bright enough to figure out how to put them in the right place or communicate well what is going on it doesn’t matter how strong they are. So blanket “men are better than women” claims rarely are true. Even in things like firefighting.

    In any case as others mentioned it’s not at all clear any of that is relevant to be an university professor.

  30. Amanda
    December 6, 2018 at 11:19 pm

    I have a PhD in Electrical Engineering and am a woman. When I toured BYU as a high schooler and thought about attending there, the entire environment of the university, especially the engineering department, felt off to me. A very almost condescending attitude towards women – granted it was just on a visit, but it changed my attendance plans. I attended two large universities and had varying number of female faculty. I think I only once had a woman engineering professor, and that was in graduate school, though generally woman faculty rates were around 20% in the engineering departments at my school. Not only from the idea of having different viewpoints among the faculty, I think it is important to have different viewpoints for the benefit of students. I wonder how my career might have turned out differently with more female mentors. Or what it would be like to not be the minority in any room. I have not pursued a research heavy, teaching career (one tenure-track faculty in the family seemed to be all we can handle along with our 4 boys, plus I much prefer teaching to research) but I have been teaching, not on the tenure track, in engineering for the last 6 years at two different universities. But I can’t possibly be the only Mormon woman with a PhD in Engineering and in academia. I think it would be very beneficial for all the female students to see women as role models and would like to see a higher percentage of faculty in the hard sciences and engineering at church institutions. Sometimes, I hear this idea that women are not as interested in the tenure-track type positions, and I suppose I am a case-in-point for this as I worked part-time for a while, and while I work full-time now, it is a much more flexible job than tenure-track (and with a salary to match!). But I do think in many ways that is a cop-out. Again, I would be much more interested in my own children attending a university with a better gender balance among faculty. Even though my children are boys, I want them to see that women can and do succeed in STEM fields and be used to learning and being led by women.

  31. December 6, 2018 at 11:39 pm

    Amanda I think one thing most universities could do better is make it easier for women who want to also have a family to do it part time and then move up later. The problem is that what universities focus on for professors is often publication, which puts women who want lower intensity work while they’re having a family at a disadvantage. I’d further add that I think a huge problem is that while publishing and research is so valuable the ability to teach students is often of lower value. (Not everywhere, but at enough places it’s a problem) This means a woman who might be a better teacher in the department but perhaps due to family choices not as good at research are at a disadvantage. Ideally what you’d want is to have a low intensity track that people can move out of. Also child care helps a great deal (and not just for women – men often are dealing with kids too)

    Some departments at BYU seem to do better than others. I have a friend who’s been a part time professor in the physics department. Perhaps made easier because her husband is a full time professor. She’s now a full time associate professor teaching freshmen. That worked out well. (I’ve never asked about the behind the scenes things on this so I don’t know how this all transpired) I’d love to see more of that and not just for couples who both have PhDs and are married.

  32. KLC
    December 7, 2018 at 11:25 am

    I find gender equality conversations on the internet interesting since the equality is always highly selective. Right now it’s STEM, STEM, STEM, STEM, and you would think the fate of the world hinges on having more women in college studying math and science. But I can’t forget that during almost all of the my two sons’ elementary school years the only male presence on their entire campus was a janitor, all of the teachers and all of the administrators were women. How is that for good role models for boys, especially those boys struggling in school? And ten years later nothing has changed. Every principal of every school in my district in, about 20 in a city of more than 200,000 in Los Angeles county is a woman. I think there is a reasonable argument to be made that having equality and diversity in those very early years is much more important than having it at the university level. Yet this seems to be OK with everyone crying for equality and diversity on campuses.

  33. Clark Goble
    December 7, 2018 at 12:38 pm

    KLC I think broadly speaking that’s an important point. So at most universities many departments are significantly female. More significantly women now far outpace men in college attendance. In many fields like sociology, women have received the majority of PhDs. I don’t think the discussion and focus has really dealt with that well. That’s not really the case at BYU though which is several decades behind in terms of trends. BYU is actually one of the few universities with more men than women attending.

    Regarding K12 schooling, that seems a very different issue. I think the evidence is accumulating that having more male teachers, if only to be role models, is important. Especially with so many single parent (usually female) homes. Traditionally men didn’t go into teaching at high rates due to the sexist perception of value. (Ditto with nursing although there it’s far worse) I also think a problem is that boys develop differently than girls and teaching pedagogy doesn’t always deal with that well. That hurts both girls and boys in various ways. But I’ll fully admit I’m limited in my knowledge here.

    I do think that people push STEM too much. Plus within STEM there’s pretty different fields. Biology is quite different from Physics. And Engineering considerably different from both. Gender makeup in particular STEM areas also differs quite a bit. I think the emphasis is because engineering in particular is seen as a high value, high paying field. A lot of these decisions are also really biased by a particular suburban upper middle class perception. If women don’t like say Physics, while I might wish they would, we really shouldn’t say it’s bad because they prefer sociology.

  34. December 7, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    Amanda, thanks for sharing your perspective, as it’s particularly relevant to the issue.

    Clark, do keep in mind that one of the universities under discussion here, BYU-Idaho, does not have a research mission or research requirements, and it still has a very low percentage of women on the faculty.

  35. Dave C
    December 7, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    “If the College of Engineering and Technology started hiring men and women in equal numbers now, for example, and provided a supportive environment at all ranks for the women it hired, it could be composed of 25% women faculty members in 20 years”

    Similarly, if everyone saved a hundred thousand dollars every year we would each have two million dollars plus interest in 20 years.

    So why aren’t we doing these things?

  36. Clark Goble
    December 7, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    I think my point was more that this makes things worse since BYU-I isn’t a research university and arguably BYU isn’t primarily a research university. Therefore teaching rather than publications should count most which ought prioritize women more. However my understanding is that the way they do it in practice in most departments at BYU is that publication and what college you did your doctorate at counts a great deal. This then makes it harder for many women who might want to teach but not go down that research track.

  37. December 7, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    Dave C: Most people don’t earn $100,000 a year, let alone have that much to sock away in savings. The science and engineering departments at BYU, however, do make multiple hires each year, so if none of the hires are women, it’s certainly not because the opportunity doesn’t exist.

    Robert Osborn: I removed your comment. It wasn’t even a bad comment, as far as it went, it’s just that I’m not really interested in pursuing that discussion any further, as I indicated above. It’s not a matter of what is or isn’t sexist, but you’ve made the same point before, and several people have explained how you’re wrong, and I don’t think it’s worth repeating the process. We’re not talking about chess grand masters; we’re talking about departments at BYU campuses (like Jason’s) that would love to hire more women, and qualified and experienced women (like Amanda) who apply to teach there…and somehow it doesn’t happen. Whatever the cause of that is, it isn’t genetics.

  38. Robert Osborn
    December 7, 2018 at 5:27 pm

    Jonathon,
    Thanks for the sensorship. Why even have a topic open for discussion?

  39. Dr Cocoa
    December 8, 2018 at 11:39 am

    Wouldn’t true equality be hiring the same percentage of women that apply? If a department has a average application rate of 10% women, I would expect them to hire a woman 10% of the time. To hire more than that would exhibit bias against the 90% male applicants… and prejudice is abhorrent whichever way it slants.

    In the last few years, the Chem E department at BYU has made a handful of male hires. I happen to know that they would love to find a female candidate to diversify their staff…but given the number of females who opt to pursue a PhD in Chem E and then actually decide to enter academia, the probability of that happening is near zero. So if Chem E department suddenly ended up with 20% female faculty in the next five or ten years, it would be a statistical miracle….and reek of unfairness toward the male applicants.

    I’m all for gender fairness. However, fairness is not reflected by equal percentage of male and female hires…rather fairness is reflected by a lack of statistical bias in hiring practices.

  40. Emma
    December 8, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    I was once recruited and interviewed for a CFS-track job at BYU-Provo in a department that had very few women. The male professors were enthusiastic and made it clear that they wanted more women on the faculty, if for no other reason than that the lack of women was embarrassing. They seemed like they’d be very kind and supportive colleagues. But when it came to my interview with a general authority, the general authority started off by saying that he wasn’t comfortable with a female professor teaching in my field and feared I might set a less-than-ideal example of LDS family life for the students. He told me that he was already decided against me unless I somehow convinced him otherwise. I almost thought he was joking, but he was dead serious.

    I’ve since spoken to a few other women who work at BYU and they all reported positive experiences with general authority interview. Still, I wonder if some female candidates, especially who weren’t offered jobs, might have had a similar experience to mine. I think there are a lot of factors leading to the overall imbalance, but one issue may be that sex discrimination in hiring is legal for BYU and that there are some veto actors who are predisposed to see women as questionable candidates, regardless of (or because of) their qualifications.

  41. Jon Miranda
    December 8, 2018 at 6:46 pm

    Rob Osborn
    They and other large blogs only want to be an echo chamber so if you don’t agree with them they delete your comments.

  42. Robert Osborn
    December 9, 2018 at 1:00 am

    Jon,
    I hear ya. I see this topic and others related to workplace equality get brought up all the time and everyone is afraid to address the facts because of fear of being a sexist. I’m a man and am proud to be a hard working provider, it’s one of things we men were made for. There will never be gender equality in the workforce, men will always come out on top, it’s a fact, it’s reality, time for society to move on and accept common sense.

  43. December 9, 2018 at 11:13 am

    Robert Osborn,
    That is such an antiquated concept that it has no place in the 21st century.

  44. Jared vdH
    December 9, 2018 at 11:38 am

    Robert Osborn and Jan Miranda,

    The issue is not that the admins here want only an echo chamber. The issue is that you keep going off topic and try to drive the conversation in a direction counter to the thesis of the original post. That’s just rude.

    Additionally your comment that the workplace is and always will be dominated by men is countered by the very statistics above where women dominate in departments like nursing and teaching education or observations in the comments that K-12 education is dominated by women.

    Just because people don’t want to allow you to dictate how the conversation proceeds isn’t censorship, it’s moderation and every good and organized debate has moderation.

  45. Robert Osborn
    December 10, 2018 at 12:24 am

    I think that some people are missing a very valid point. When people say they want workplace equality amongst genders it’s like saying they want equality in ability but it’s really apples vs. oranges. In Basketball for instance men are better than women. Sure, there are some women better than men but in general men are better because of their speed, height, and overall athletic ability. In the workplace it’s very similar overall. With all other things being relatively equal as far as intellect goes, men have the advantage in several areas. They are-1. They don’t bare children and thus can study and work more over a career. 2. They are stronger.

    So, if we are really talking about equality, you are never going to get there unless you start manipulating genetics to make men bare children and make them weaker.

    Especially in light of LDS culture with large families and divine roles according to gender, one should expect within our culture, especially at LDS universities, that teaching positions at the upper heights are going to be dominated by men. I don’t see LDS couples at anytime soon abandoning having and rearing God’s children into the world.

    I’m all in favor of hiring the best and most qualified individual for a job. And because men do hold the advantage in the workplace in most jobs because of those two factors I listed above, they are going to continue to or should continue to dominate the workplace.

    It’s interesting in that we somehow want equality at the nice plushy jobs but where the rubber meets the road, a mile underground in a coal mine, or on top of a mountain carrying a chainsaw all day, on an oil rig women don’t want that- that’s a man’s job! The reality of it is- most of the working class jobs out there deal with hard butt busting labor and quite frankly, us men love it!

  46. A Turtle Named Mack
    December 10, 2018 at 9:22 am

    Congratulations, Robert! You’re taking being obtuse to a new level. Your last comment is full to too many internal inconsistencies to detail, but I’ll engage with one of your examples. Men are better at basketball only because the rules of basketball privilege being fast, and strong, and tall. My son isn’t an athletically-inclined person. While I played a lot of basketball, growing up, he has no interest. Although, he clearly dominates his sister, who is a very good shooter, dribbles very well, is quite fast, and has a keen sense of the game. But, my son is 6′ 4″, and my daughter doesn’t stand a chance. The rules of every game privilege certain attributes. But those rules are NOT divinely inspired. Workplace rules are not divinely inspired, but are created to privilege certain people. That can be changed, and in instances where they privilege men over women, when there is simply no legitimate reason (such as teaching), they should be changed, and there should be a concerted effort to eliminate the disparity. Insisting that men are better at the things that men are better at isn’t an effective argument for the validity of the status quo.

  47. Robert Osborn
    December 10, 2018 at 9:43 am

    ATNM,
    So, in the natural process of the road to becoming a professor, it’s still easier for men to become such as they do not bare children. The only way way too elieliminate this disparity is to either make it so that women don’t marry and bare children or make men bare children. Good luck with that! In a post that was deleted I was trying to explain my theory that in elementary schooling you will see more women teach because children need to be nurtured and language skills, those skills women excell at. As one approaches the upper eschulons of teaching at the University you will see more men because they need less nurturing and language skills and more spatial and problem solving, skills men excell at.

  48. Pete
    December 10, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    Rob,

    What’s your solution for that pesky problem of women who can’t/don’t have children? Should they be restricted to lower paying ‘nuturing’ careers/jobs that don’t displace any superior men like you?

  49. Rob Osborn
    December 10, 2018 at 2:09 pm

    Pete, thats not really a fair question with the tone you use. Should men be penalized for being able to finish more schooling and have better pay opportinities because their wives took time off to bare and raise children?

  50. ReTx
    December 10, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    I am so, so grateful to be a woman living in 2018. Where I can choose and direct my own life. Where I can pursue higher education that interests me and has led into a lucrative, full-filling career all while being married to a hardworking, willing-to-do-50%-of-the-household-chores spouse and raising four amazing kids. On top of that, I have friends and family and hobbies and a deep spiritual relationship with Deity, all of which support my path. It isn’t always easy, but I wouldn’t trade it for a moment. I recognize that I have a great deal of privilege in my situation and that not every woman (or man) has the opportunities I do, but compared to my grandmother or great-grandmother, I truly believe that I live in a world where I woman who is willing to work, sacrifice, and build, can take on any role she chooses. And I truly believe that more women will, as we as a society offer them the support to do so.

    (End of thread-jack. It just needed to be said.)

  51. Rob Osborn
    December 10, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    Do women feel threatened by the role of the father as the provider in the family?

  52. Brian
    December 10, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    Rob, do men feel threatened by women in the workplace? Wow, so easy to make trite comments. I mean, how long can your absurd side tangent last? As long as someone disagrees with you?

    Clearly there is a range of qualifications for different positions and a range of people meeting those qualifications. Some women are much smarter than me, and I am working on my third graduate degree. I dare there are some smarter than you. They should have equal access to the positions we are seeking.

  53. ReTx
    December 10, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    Threatened? Err… No. But then again, I don’t live in a world where men alone are the providers. How can one feel threatened by something that doesn’t in their reality exist? Which was what I was trying to show. How you could pull ‘threatened’ out of that, I have no idea.

  54. December 10, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    Rob Osborn: I often like your comments and think they represent an important and frequently overlooked perspective. In this case, though, you’re forcing the conversation into a direction that I don’t find particularly relevant or useful because of your disregard for facts and evidence. It’s important to recognize when you’re not as well informed as others and your experience is not as directly relevant. This is one of those times. Sticking to one’s guns is sometimes necessary, but in this case it’s leading you to defend the indefensible and make statements that are needlessly insulting. Try to do better.

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