Although women surpassed men for the first time in earning doctoral degrees from U.S. universities in 2002, the vast majority of professors at research universities are still men, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported.
From 2001-02, men made up 70 percent of professors at research universities in the United States.
Chemical engineering and materials science professor Jennifer Maynard said that although she heard about the disparity between male and female professors while in college, she was not personally affected until last year.
“It’s something you really struggle with when you are faced with it,” Maynard said.
As a female professor in the Institute of Technology, a college with classes mostly male faculty members teach, Maynard said, the standards she has to meet as a woman are very high.
Sometimes, it becomes difficult to balance family and a demanding career, she said.
“When you have kids, you start to struggle with this. You feel guilty and want to be with your child,” Maynard said.
Maynard came to the University in March and had her daughter, Lara, in the summer.
“I went back to work after two weeks,” Maynard said. “You don’t want to show any weakness, whether it be because of family or anything else.”
She said that between the baby and her job, she “doesn’t have time for anything.”
Chemistry graduate student Ann McNally said she thinks one reason there are fewer female professors is that a lot of women find it difficult to find time to raise families and teach at research universities.
“Many women opt to take a job that gives them more flexibility,” McNally said.
Women’s studies professor Susan Craddock said research universities need to provide a more welcoming environment for female professors.
“I feel supported in my department, but I know from other colleagues that the environment (for women) in other departments is not what it might be,” Craddock said. Maynard said she feels supported within her department at IT.
But she said incoming female professors are sometimes treated differently from men.
“There’s not as much attention and support with more experienced faculty showing you the ropes,” Maynard said.
McNally said she has never had class with a female professor out of the “handful” in the chemistry department.
She said the atmosphere is slowly changing, but it will never be divided equally between the genders.
“There are so many issues. It starts when kids are little, like when you have a Barbie doll saying ‘math is dumb,’ ” McNally said.
Craddock said she hopes that as more women get doctorates, more will get hired in tenured positions.
But, “there is a lot of work to be done,” she said.