CHAPTER 11: RECRUITING WOMEN FACULTY
The hiring of women to a critical mass will ensure that they are able to survive, and then able to transform the environment, the curriculum, and the training and apprenticeship programs, to make certain that we will have engineering for and by women(Rose Sheinin, Vice-Rector Academic, Concordia University, CCWE Conference).
Women faculty are few and far between in faculties of engineering at Canadian universities; in September 1990, women represented only 2.2 percent of engineering faculty (Table 14). Like female faculty in other disciplines, women engineering faculty are less likely than their male colleagues to be found in the professorial ranks, and are more often clustered in instructor and lecturer positions (Table 15).
Many women engineering faculty face the same problems as any minority. Their behavior, both professional and social, is subject to greater scrutiny, and they are often seen as representatives of their gender, rather than as individuals (Hall and Sandler, 1986).
Faculties of engineering need to recognize that women bring many benefits to engineering education. They are role models for male and female undergraduates and especially for women students who are potential graduate students and academics. Engineering education and research will be enhanced by their perspectives.
As long as women are under-represented among faculty, in senior management positions and in faculties of engineering, they expend additional energy coping with predominantly male environments, in addition to developing excellence in teaching, research and management. As they increase in number, women faculty will relieve the heavy load of counseling and recruitment now shared by one or two women professors.
To identify barriers that discourage women from pursuing academic careers, researchers should study attitudes among engineering students about university teaching as a career.
Research is also needed to determine why women in engineering facilities are underrepresented among adjunct professors and full-' time faculty, and over-represented in sessional, lecturer and instructor positions.
Recruit women faculty
Universities which hire women engineering professors and give them a portion of their time to work with women undergraduates are performing a very valuable service to the whole profession. Such professors are ideal role models for the women studying engineering
Universities need to provide incentives to encourage women graduate students to become faculty, at least until women represent a significant proportion of engineering faculty. Some universities have incentive programs for departments and faculties that seek out women candidates. Others are taking direct action by setting quotas, establishing incentive funds for the hiring of women faculty, and using headhunters. Special efforts will be required to attract women PhDs working in industry where they may receive higher salaries.
Engineering faculties should identify and approach recent women graduates and Ph.D. candidates. A database of women candidates (including graduates and those currently enrolled) and information about their areas of specialization would help faculties identify potential candidates for future academic positions.
It is important that efforts be made to facilitate the return to a research career or academic study for women who have taken leave to attend to family responsibilities. Faculties should promote full use of NSERC's Research Reorientation Associateships which facilitate re-entry into research for people with doctoral degrees who have left the work force because of family responsibilities.
Faculties of engineering should encourage women graduate students to consider academic careers by guaranteeing equitable access to teaching assistantships and especially research experiences. Women can be introduced to academic life through teaching and research assistantships; such experiences must be positive.
Women faculty may be attracted by the guarantee of funding to establish their research once hired. Women must have equitable access to start-up grants to initiate and establish research. Financial incentives should come not just from universities and government, but also from the private sector.
Immediate interventions to increase the number of women faculty in the short-term (one to three years) should be pursued actively and quickly. For qualified women outside the university who have children, part-time positions with the clear prospect of moving to full-time positions at a well-defined point in the future may prove very attractive. Such initiatives will signal a commitment to respect and support short-term family commitments. However, universities must ensure that part-time faculty are integrated into the mainstream of faculty life, and that these positions are structured so that women faculty are not only helped in their careers but also carry a fair share of academic responsibilities.
Employers of engineers outside the university should consider encouraging women in their organizations to pursue university teaching on an adjunct, part-time or temporary basis. Such arrangements should be fully supported by employers as a legitimate part of career development programs in private and public organizations.
Flexibility in tenure criteria
One female doctoral student in engineering wrote about the system that discourages women from having children during doctoral studies and during the first three years of an academic career when there is enormous pressure to publish, obtain research grants, establish courses and secure tenure.
This is what will send me away from large institutions where I could do the research I want to do and have access to wonderful facilities and graduate students, and into the arms of a smaller institution where the competition is not so stiff, so that I can have a family and keep my head above water (financially) at the same time. This is what would push me out of academia and into industry, where maternity leave is more accepted as a necessary stage in one's career.
Like women graduate students, many women faculty face two clocks that are running down simultaneously. One clock is the tight schedule of research, publishing and teaching required to secure tenure; the other is the biological clock that limits the time women can delay childbirth. If universities are to retain women faculty, more flexibility in the requirements and time allowances for tenure and promotion is needed.
Deans of engineering need to encourage their universities to re-examine tenure criteria. Key issues include the relative value assigned to productivity, committee work, progress in research, number of publications, teaching excellence, and time-period since hiring. Flexibility with respect to tenure should be clearly tied to maternity and parental leaves and other similar purposes. Such flexibility should be provided if an individual faculty member requests it, but is not mandatory. Women faculty especially need to be assured that leaves for family responsibilities will not jeopardize career progress or achievement of tenure and promotion.
Deans must clearly define and publicize tenure and promotion criteria to all faculty. Together with department heads, they should work closely with non-tenured women faculty to ensure that the requirements and timeframe for tenure are clearly understood. By working in concert, they will ensure progress towards tenure is monitored and that women will secure tenure.
Adjust workload of faculty
Universities need to recognize that the workload of faculty includes activities such as counseling students, mentoring, performing committee work, and participating in recruitment and retention programs. Recruitment of top students is important to the progress of each faculty, and counseling and mentoring are critical to the retention of university students. Credit for faculty participation in recruitment and mentoring programs should be equal to that of other scholarly activities.
Although male faculty are and should be involved in recruitment and counseling activities, women engineering faculty face especially heavy demands because of their limited number. These women often have an extra heavy load of counseling and advising students, especially women students who may feel more comfortable consulting a woman professor about problems and concerns. Frequently, women professors are invited to sit on faculty and university committees so that feminine perspectives are brought into discussion and decision making. Pressure is also increasing for women engineering professors to participate in school visit and mentoring programs.
The workload and performance review criteria of faculty should be re-evaluated. The workload must also be monitored and adjusted periodically to ensure that these activities are appropriate and shared equally. Where such sharing is inappropriate, adjustments should be made and recognition given.
14. The CCWE recommends that faculties of engineering develop an action plan to increase the number of women faculty in engineering so that a more gender-balanced engineering faculty is created and all engineering students have women role models.
Schedule for success:
15. The CCWE recommends that universities design tenure and promotion criteria and processes to allow for family responsibilities so that maternity, paternity and parental leaves do not jeopardize career progression or achievement of tenure and promotion.
Schedule for success: