Global rise or persistent inequalities? A cross-national analysis of women faculty
- Over the last decade, women have increasingly outnumbered men in higher education enrollments in the vast majority of countries around the world. Yet, studies reveal that women continue to be underrepresented as faculty, particularly in the higher echelons of the academic hierarchy and across traditionally male-dominated disciplines. This dissertation explores the global status of women faculty in higher education institutions from historical, national, and organizational level perspectives. The experiences of women faculty have been well documented in specific countries and regions throughout the world, but the extent to which these trends can be generalized in a global and historical context is far less understood. My first paper utilizes data from the UNESCO Institute of Statistics to examine the global trends of women faculty attainment across 93 countries from 1970 to 2012. Using descriptive analysis and country-fixed effects regression analysis, I examine (1) how women faculty have advanced cross-nationally over time, and (2) to what extent these changes are driven by global and transnational dynamics, and/or by country-level characteristics. Although the conditions of women academics have been widely examined across different countries worldwide, extant studies have largely been cross-sectional in nature, or focused on single country or university contexts. The contribution of this paper is to examine the phenomenon from a cross-national and longitudinal perspective. I find that despite the current prevailing discourse focusing on the underrepresentation of women academics, women's share of faculty positions has in fact grown dramatically and consistently over the last several decades. While the first paper provides an important historical context to understanding the current status of women faculty worldwide, more recent research emphasizes the unequal access and opportunities that women faculty continue to face in reaching the higher ranks of tenure, particularly in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields. In order to understand these gender differences among academic faculty, the second paper employs a comparative analysis of women faculty in current-day, top ranked universities worldwide. Given the limited availability of comparative international data on women faculty, I utilize a uniquely constructed dataset on over 12,000 current faculty (2013-14 academic year) from 13 advanced and developing countries, across four diverse fields of study. The investigation relies on descriptive and multi-level analyses focusing on two main dependent variables: (1) women's share of faculty positions inside higher education institutions across four fields of study, and (2) women's share of tenured or permanent faculty positions inside a higher education institution, across disciplines. I find that in this current-day sample of elite universities worldwide, women are in fact, vastly underrepresented at the tenure ranks across all fields of study across the 13 countries, and particularly in engineering. From a global perspective, countries that are interlinked to a world society are more likely to see women in faculty positions across all ranks and disciplines. Various political and structural factors at the national level jointly contribute to the limited advancement of women faculty, particularly in the science and engineering fields, as well as in higher ranks of faculty positions across disciplines. The third article examines the organizational-level characteristics of higher education institutions that contribute to the growth of women faculty across the 52 elite universities for which data is uniquely collected. I find a wide variation in the institutional characteristics associated with differing levels of women's representation in faculty positions. Most prominently, the presence of women department heads is significantly linked to greater representations of women faculty, both overall and at higher ranks of tenure. Building on feminist and organizational-level theories, I argue that the current underrepresentation of women in higher ranks of faculty are functions of a dynamic, multi-level gender system in which global-, national- and organizational-level processes work together to perpetuate the gender segregation in academic hierarchies across the world. This dissertation contributes a unique examination of the status of women faculty in a global context from a variety of sociological, feminist, and organizational frameworks and perspectives. Given the cross-national scope of these papers, the findings contribute new evidence for the generalizability of existing theories on women in higher education cross-nationally, beyond the existing state of theories focusing on single country studies. As the under-representation of women, particularly in elite and leadership positions, spans diverse socio-economic and political contexts around the world, these papers further offer new considerations for scholars and stakeholders invested in the broader issues of gender, work and organizations.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|Stanford University, Graduate School of Education.
|Powell, Walter W
|Ramirez, Francisco O
|Powell, Walter W
|Ramirez, Francisco O
|Statement of responsibility
|Submitted to the Graduate School of Education.
|Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2015.
- © 2015 by Mana Nakagawa
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
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