In Conversation with President Eileen M. Hayes

Eileen Hayes

Toward Closing the Gender Gap

Last week I attended a workshop on microaggressions held for faculty and staff on our campus.  One of our department chairs observed that he was surprised that the focus of the workshop was linked to gender, race, ability, age, nationality, and religion.  He had not previously made connections, he said, between “bad” or “unconscious” behaviors and the aforementioned vectors that in many cases structure critical aspects of our professional and personal lives.  Our conversation reminded me of an earlier posting in which I alluded to the gender differential in university teaching positions in Music. Although microaggressions are not the only culprit, it is worth bearing in mind their impact on women and faculty of color in our departments and schools of music as they advance through the ranks.

The data I share below are contained in Music Chart 13, the HEADS (Higher Education Arts Data Services) report of Music Faculty by Gender and Tenure Status available through NASM. The chart reflects data points submitted by NASM accredited schools, including those that identify as associate degree, baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral degree-granting institutions. This particular chart juxtaposes type of institution with academic status (tenured /non-tenured). It does not account for race or salaries.  

The information from doctoral institutions is striking.  Of the 70 institutions reporting, there were 1,431 tenured male and 536 tenured female professors.  Of the non-tenured faculty, there were 856 men and 535 women reported. Of the 202 master’s degree granting institutions reporting, 1,561 male professors were tenured, in contrast to 706 of their female counterparts.  Non-tenured faculty at those institutions included 1,163 men and 705 women. Moving to baccalaureate degree-granting institutions with 290 institutions reporting, we find that 962 male professors comprise the tenured cohort compared with 446 female professors.  The numbers were roughly the same for non-tenured professors: 940 men and 497 women.

In actual fact, this chart does not offer as much insight into this swath of music academe as I might have hoped. For example, the category of “non-tenured,” could include both non-tenure track as well as pre-tenure positions.  Moreover, the chart does not highlight the upside down funnel that describes the promotions of women through the ranks to full professor. And of course, the chart itself, without empirical evidence and anecdotes of lived experience, does not demonstrate the correlation between microaggressions and implicit bias, with promotions of faculty in Music across institution types.  The chart reminds us of the usefulness of data and what certain presentations of it may reveal as well as obscure.