ON THE SOCIAL SCIENCE FACULTIES SINCE 1892
This research was inspired by a sit-in at the University of Chicago in the winter quarter of 1969 to protest the dismissal of Marlene Dixon at the end of a three year joint appointment as an assistant professor in the Departments of Sociology and Human Development. The students raised consciousness on how few women were on the University faculty. My original focus was to find out how many women had held faculty appointments in Sociology, but there were so few I expanded the research to five social science departments plus history. My findings were presented as a talk at four colloquia held that quarter by different units of the University, and later sold as a pamphlet. In 1970, the pamphlet was put into the record of Hearings before the Special Subcommittee on Education of the Committee on Education and Labor, House of Representatives, on Section 805 of H.R. 16098, held in Washington, D.C. in June and July 1970, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1971, pp. 994-1003.
Not only do these patterns manifest themselves, but the "normal" university career is not found at all. Not a single woman in the graduate divisions of any of these six departments began her career here as a junior faculty member and rose, in that department, to become a full professor. While not all men follow this pattern either, and many move around quite a bit during their careers, it is safe to say that the number who do move up the academic ladder to full professor at the University of Chicago is considerably greater than zero.
original investigation was confined to the Sociology Department during
the last ten years. I suspected, and hoped to show, that the turnover
rate of women was considerably higher than that of men. I could find no
such pattern -- primarily because I could not find any women. Marlene
Dixon was the first woman to hold a teaching position in the Sociology
Department in 19 years. Her closest predecessor, Josephine Williams, was
an Assistant Professor in 1950-51. A top Sociology graduate student in
the forties, she had been given an Instructorship when she received her
Ph.D. in 1947. She held this position for two years before being promoted
to Assistant Professor. One year later she is listed in the catalogs as
only a Research Associate, and the next year she left.
partial exceptions to this pattern have occurred in the History Department.
Frances Gillespie began as an Associate (one notch above an Assistant but
below an Instructor) in 1921. When she retired in 1949 she had been an Associate
Professor for 16 years. Ilza Veith was brought into the department in 1952
with a joint appointment in Medicine. She left eleven years later as an
Associate Professor. They are the only two women to begin in untenured positions
and leave in tenured ones -- and they never held full professorships.
The current faculty contains one potential exception to this rule also in the History Department. Although Hanna Gray did not begin her career at the University of Chicago, her first appointment here was in 1962 in the untenured position of Assistant Professor in the College. Her husband held the same appointment in the graduate divisions but for some reason the nepotism rule was not invoked when the department was reorganized and Hanna Gray became a member of the graduate History Department. Of course, her husband was promoted a year ahead of her, but she is now an Associate Professor and has not yet retired. She may become the first woman to break the invisible barrier.**
A far more common pattern is that of women who enter the six departments at the lower positions and are infrequently promoted. Two discussed earlier, Edith Abbott and Josephine Williams, stayed for some years and then left. Several more simply stayed. This is a particularly popular ploy in the Psychology Department, which has had almost as many women on its faculty as the other five departments put together. Laura Rice was a Research Associate from 1957 to 1961. She was promoted to Assistant Professor in 1962 and still held that position when she left seven years later. Leota Janke left in 1953 after six years as an Instructor, and Jean Mackinzie left in 1966 after four years as a Lecturer. Hedda Bolgar spent seven years as a Lecturer before being made a Research Associate in 1956. She left the next year.
In the History Department, Shirley Farr was an Assistant in 1915, and left as an Instructor in 1933. Frances Ada Knox was also an Assistant, in 1904. She left her final position as Extension Assistant Professor in 1927. Perhaps the moot tragic case of all is that of Mary Gilson. She was hired as an Instructor in the Economics Department in 1931. But unlike Hazel Kyrk, she stayed on in the department. She stayed so long that in 1943 she is listed in the catalog as Assistant Professor Emeritus. After 12 years of service to the Economics Department she retired without ever receiving tenure.
Two departments not yet discussed are Anthropology and Political Science. This is because there is not much to say about them. Anthropology's only distinction is having had the most women as Research Associates, a generally non-faculty, post-doctoral one or two year appointment. They have had nine women Research Associates; also four Teaching Assistants, and two Instructors, each of whom stayed for only one year. Political Science gets two honorable mentions. One is for having had the first woman to teach in any one of these six departments. Elizabeth Wallace taught a course in Latin American Politics in 1892. The second is for having had the fewest. Miss Wallace was the last woman to hold a teaching position in Political Science in the history of the University. The few other women to teach courses in this department have held appointments in other departments or in the College.
A popular place for women is the "temporary" position of Research Associate. Some women stay in it for years. In fact, more women have worked as Research Associates than as faculty members in these six departments. Sociology alone had five women Research Associates in 1960 -- and no women on the faculty. Most leave after a short period of time, but some don't; occasionally one stays so long that she is given tenure. A few, such as Rita James and Evelyn Kitagawa, even teach courses. But they are still Research Associates.
This is one of the places one must look when trying to answer the question, where are the women Ph.D.'s? The problem is not just that there are not enough women available. A fairly constant 20% of all the fellowship holders as listed in the graduate catalogs have been women throughout the history of the university in every one of these departments except Economics. (See Appendix II) and the Economics Department has managed to appoint three women to the position of full professor (more than the other departments combined) despite this handicap.
Although figures on the number of women actually receiving their Ph.D.'s are not available for each department, nationally the number has ranged from a high of 15.4% in 1930 to 8% in 1950. In 1964 it was 10.6% The University of Chicago does better than the national average -- at least for students. In 1967-68 16.7% of the Ph.D.s granted went to women. This is from a student body in which 27.8% of all those enrolled in graduate or professional schools were women, and 25.1% of all graduate and professional degrees went to women. (Figures are from the University Office of Public Information. See Appendix III) If the University of Chicago were serious about hiring women Ph.D.s for faculty positions, it has an abundant pool of its own graduates to draw upon.
It can also recruit faculty women from other schools. Popular academic mythology to the contrary, a larger proportion of women receiving doctorates go into college teaching than men. Thus, when the National Education Association did a study in 1964, 18% of all teaching faculty in four year institutions were women. (The percentage in junior colleges was higher.) However, the traditional pattern of "the higher you go, the fewer women you find," still prevails. While 25% of the untenured faculty were women, they constituted only 12% of the tenured faculty. (See Appendix IV)
Few of these 18% are to be found at the University of Chicago. Although the percentage of women students it graduates with Ph.D.s is higher than the national average, the percentage of women faculty members it hires is not. According to the University Office of Public Information only 75 out of 1,128 members of the faculty this year are women, or 6.6 percent. This is hardly much progress since 1899 when of the 163 people on the faculty, 13 were women -- 8%. This is not to say that the University of Chicago does not employ women Ph.D.s. It just doesn't employ them as faculty members of the major disciplines in the graduate divisions. Women work in the College, the extension division, as Research Associates and in other non-faculty positions.
most common bond between the 1899 faculty and the 1969 faculty is that where
women are found, the traditional pattern still prevails. Over 50% of the
women currently on the faculty hold appointments in the College. An additional
20% are in women's departments (S.S.A., Household Administration, Home Economics,
Nursing Education. Education, Library Science), and another 20% are in women's
fields in the medical school (pediatrics, anesthesiology, psychiatry, obstetrics,
and gynecology). Of the 460 full professors currently on the University
faculty, only 11 are women. Six of these are in the school of Social Service
Administration. Of the entire faculty, women are 13% of all Instructors,
11.2% of all Assistant Professors, 5.6% of all Associate Professors and
only 2.4% of all Professors. Only in the women's departments is the proportion
of women in higher positions at all comparable to their proportion on the
departmental faculty. One must conclude that the academic disciplines of
this university are sexually segregated and that a woman faculty member
violates this barrier only at the risk of her career. Although the adequate
research has not yet been done, one can also speculate that the decline
in the percentage of women on the faculty is historically associated with
the decline in the number of women's departments. Academic women have been
fired from the one, and not hired in the other.
Why do these patterns prevail -- not only at the University of Chicago, but at all comparable institutions of higher education? There are many social reasons of course, but this is not the place to discuss them. Some answers can be found much closer to home. The obvious answer is that hiring and promotion committees are composed primarily if not entirely of men. While most men on the UC faculty claim not to discriminate against women, at least one Ph.D. dissertation has already been written (by a man) at Pennsylvania State University showing that male faculty members do, in fact, prefer to hire colleagues of their own sex.
Chauvinism is manifested in very subtle ways. For example, several (male) faculty members here have said that they would be happy to hire women if they could just find some "qualified" ones. While "qualified" is never defined, one fears it means something different for a woman than for a man. First of all, there are the sheer numbers of women Ph.D.'s who graduate from this university and from all such institutions. While hardly as numerous as they ought to be, they certainly provide a more abundant pool of female academic talent than could be found in 1899. Are so few of them "qualified"?
Second, the women who taught here, particularly those who stretched the sex barrier, seem to be considerably more qualified than their typical male colleagues. A large number of those few who reach tenured positions have more than one degree, honorary or otherwise. They have J.D.'s, L.L.D.'s, and Litt. D's as well as Ph.D's. A cursory examination of any catalog does not show a similar percentage of men with those distinctions. Some of the male professors do not even have Ph.D.s. For example, Edward Shils entered the Sociology Department in 1940 as an Instructor with only an A.B. Today he is a full professor in that department, and still has only an A.B. Every woman to hold any position on the faculty of these departments, and virtually all Research Associates, have had Ph. D.'s. In perusing the catalogs, one is also struck by the number of women who receive the honorary title "Emeritus" upon retirement. At times there are more female professors Emeritus listed in some departments than female faculty members.
In conversations with (male) faculty members one is given the impression that "qualified" for a woman means only the best in the field. Typical was a conversation I had with Professor Arthur Mann of the History Department. He said the department would be happy to hire more women, but that there were only three good women historians in the country and none of them were available. He may be right in his assessment of the top historians, but he is wrong if he meant that only the best people in any field ever teach at the University of Chicago. There are a few extraordinary people here, and many more ordinary ones. Extraordinary women usually do not face the discrimination common to their sex. There are so few to compare them to that sex becomes irrelevant. Judging the status of women by that of the most successful is not only a sham, but a dangerous one because it perpetuates tokenism and clothes it in a self-righteous mythology. It cannot be said that women are judged equally with men until ordinary women and ordinary men are judged by the same standards. As long as all women are judged by the standards of the extraordinary few, women will continue to believe that they are inferior and the University of Chicago will be able to smugly reassure itself that it has an egalitarian policy.
The patterns of discrimination are very clear. The situation has not changed for the better in the University's 77 year history. Women can get their training in the major departments, but they cannot rise up through the academic ranks in the faculty. They either stay in the lower positions, switch to women's departments, or they leave. Every female full professor to have taught in one of the six social science departments either acquired her status in a woman's department of the University or established a reputation elsewhere before coming here. Every other woman stayed on the bottom, or left.
These are the data, but I wish to add one personal comment. As I plied the catalogs and catalogued the plight of the female faculty, I could not help but feel a serious concern for those women currently in graduate school who, like myself, believed the myth that we would be judged on our capabilities alone and that the opportunities open to us were no different than those open to men. I felt a concern, and I felt an urgency that we should not complacently wait for the men who control the departments to decide how many token women they might allow on their faculties. If we do so, the situation will change no more in the next 77 years than it has in the last 77. We must not rely on the University of Chicago, but on ourselves, and insist that we be given fair treatment. While going through the catalogs my mind continually returned to the early days of civil rights protests when blacks picketed stores where they were not hired carrying signs which read "Don't buy where you can't work." Women can buy at the University of Chicago, they may even be given a fellowship. But once they have their Ph.D., their status changes. Women can buy here, but they cannot work.
*The University is primarily a graduate school of three Divisions plus several Professional Schools. A small College with a separate faculty teaches undergraduates. A faculty appointment in the College is not considered to be as important as one in the graduate divisions.
** Hanna Gray became President of the University of Chicago in 1978 and served until 1993.
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