April 28, 2000
Annual Report of the Commission on the Status of Women: 1999-2000
Following the departure of Professor Jean Howard as chair in the fall of this academic year, Professor Elena Aprile began to chair the Commission and to continue its work. The main focus of the Commissionís work this year has been on the "Pipeline Study," including a review of existing and additional data, and agreement on their interpretation, with the goal of summarizing the findings and recommendations in a final report. In the Commissionís view, this effort should be seen as just a first step toward improving both the presence and the quality of life of women at Columbia. A detailed presentation of the outcome of this study to the full Senate, including the Commissionís recommendations and suggestions of areas requiring further study, is planned for the first Senate meeting in fall 2000.
The "Pipeline Study" started in spring 1998, when the Commission on the Status of Women, in collaboration with the Office of Institutional Research, began to collect data on womenís progress through the academic pipeline at Columbia. Loosely modeled on the 1996 University of Michigan study, this effort represents an attempt to chart the relative success of men and women in moving through doctoral programs, attaining faculty posts at Columbia, and advancing to tenure.
With the invaluable help of Lucy Drotning from the Office of Institutional Planning and Research, detailed data on the gender demographics of the faculty of the Arts and Sciences for the period 1990-1998 have been gathered and analyzed.
A summary of the data shows that the Arts and Sciences faculty overall was 21% female in 1990 and 23% female in 1998. The percentage of women on the junior faculty remained fixed at just over 30%, while the senior faculty went from 13% female in 1990 to 18% in 1998. The gender breakdown by division and department does not reveal any surprises. While progress has been made in increasing the presence of women at Columbia, women are distributed very unevenly. Some departments, particularly in the natural sciences, have very small numbers of women. Among the recommendations of this Commission for a next phase of the study will be a detailed look at the situation of women in departments in which women are very rare.
As part of the current study, the Commission is also examining how successful Columbia has been in getting women Ph.D. candidates through its programs. Because most students who entered graduate programs in 1993 had not yet finished their Ph.D.s in 1997 when our recorded data cease, it will take several more years of data collection to document whether men and women complete Columbia graduate programs in equal numbers. It is this Commissionís goal to continue a study of graduate studentsí attrition by gender and to examine factors that directly or indirectly might lead female students to drop out. The recent finding that two graduate students were denied leaves of absence for pregnancy has particularly triggered the Commissionís attention on this issue.
Finally, an examination of the differences in the benefits and responsibilities of male and female faculty members was started. A comparative study of faculty workloads by gender cannot be limited to teaching load, for which the Commission has already started to gather data. In the future, the analysis of comparative faculty workloads should be extended to other parameters such as dissertations advised and committee work.
Future goals of the Commission on the Status of Women include analyses of
1) women faculty by department;
2) women graduate students by department;
3) faculty workload factors by gender.
The Commission hopes to receive in the near future the report of the Universityís Task Force on Salary Equity for Administrators and to contribute to discussions of any issues arising from that report. In addition, the Commission remains eager to follow the progress of and work together with the committee appointed to study salary equity of officers of research on the Morningside campus and at Lamont-Doherty.
For the Commission,
Elena Aprile, chair