Sunday, December 02, 2007

Women in Philosophy: Data on Professors

Here is the next installment of statistics concerning women in philosophy. Today I look at the labor statistics.

A few people have asked where the data in previous posts have come from. I've linked to the two sources--the National Research Council and the Dept. of Education. Let me say, data on the humanities are very scarce. An interesting 2002 document
called "Making the Humanities Count," part of an initiative to support collecting data on the humanities, is available from the National Research Council. It catalogs what professional data are available in various databases and argues passionately for the importance of collecting more. Extensive data are collected by the NSF for science, technology, and engineering fields, published biennially in the 1200-page Science and Engineering Indicators. Less--much less--is known about trends in the humanities.

There is no data available on the gender ratio of students entering philosophy programs. So we know the proportion of women that earn degrees but not what the attrition rate is during graduate school. We also know very little about what people do with their advanced degrees. How many get tenure-track jobs? How many teach part-time or in temporary positions? And for how long? After earning graduate degrees, what professions do philosophers go into other than university teaching?

The APA has some data charts available here, and not all of these charts are badly out of date. The APA attempted to collect some gender-related employment data in 2001 by sending surveys directly to departments but got only a 20% return rate, not enough to compile any data. David Schrader tells me the APA is preparing to do a survey of this year's hiring departments to find out the percentage of jobs advertised in the JFP that are filled by women. That will indeed be good to find out.

With the assistance of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a couple of years ago Kathryn Norlock compiled a report on women in the profession using 2003 labor data. The report is available as a pdf from the CSW website. Her summary findings are that
although women currently make up nearly 27% of the available labor pool in philosophy, recent data suggests that women are closer to 21% of professionally employed philosophers. This compares well with data for 1992, in which between 13% and 18% of professional philosophers were women.

I did a rough, unscientific count by gender of the names appearing in the APA's membership directory in 2004. That directory does not include all philosophy teachers and does include some people who don't teach. My count also came up just shy of 21%, which adds some confirmation to Norlock's numbers. Likewise, Julie van Camp did an informal study of the so-called "top 50" graduate departments and found a rate of 19% women faculty.

In sum, the percentage of philosophers that are women at various stages:
Bachelor's degree -- about 31% and holding steady for at least 12 years
Master's degree -- about 28% and stable
Doctorates -- 26-27% and stable
University teaching -- 21% and slowly increasing

It would be informative to be able to have more detail about how women are employed and whether they are tenured at the same rate as men. Anecdotal evidence is that women are more likely to be underemployed and that they are less likely to be tenured than men. However, I know of no specific current data that can demonstrate this.

More analysis to come!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Unscientific confirmation is the best I shall be able to get, so thanks!
Note, philosophers, that it's never been easier to gather such information with the advent of services like SurveyMonkey. It's just that no one seems to be gathering it.