Fewer women than men receive tenure nationally

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Female professors continue to confront discrimination when they seek a tenure position, according to the report “Tenure Denied: Cases of Sex Discrimination in Academia.”

Released by the American Association of University Women, the report brings to light 19 different cases of women who fought back when their requests for tenure were denied.

Women comprise more than half the assistant professors nationwide, but only 33 percent of full-tenure professors are women, according to a study by A.A.U.W.

Statistics for the CSU system look similarly grim.

According to employee demographics for the CSU, in 2002, male tenured professors numbered 4,653. Female tenured professors numbered only 2,321.

At CSUN, 180 female professors have tenure, compared with 319 male professors.

“Tenure Denied” also found that workplace hostility, pregnancy discrimination and harassment are some of the most common complaints from female professors.

Edie Pistolesi, CSUN art professor, described the tenure process as “a journey through a field of land mines.”

“During (the tenure process), I found out about cronyism, political backstabbing, and ultimately, who my true friends were,” Pistolesi said. “I found that women faculty were just as eager to betray a sister as anybody else.”

Not all stories were the same as Pistolesi’s, however. Susanne Collier, CSUN English professor, not only received tenure, but said she also sat on the tenure evaluation committee for three years.

Collier said the tenure process can be “fairly nerve-wracking,” but at CSUN, it is an extremely fair procedure.

“This institution is really supportive,” Collier said. “The guidelines set forth by the department are very clear about what you need (in order to obtain tenure).”

Although the procedure for tenure can vary from university to university, at CSUN, professors seeking tenure are hired on the tenure-track, and are evaluated by the committee each year.

According to Collier, the sixth year is when professors apply for tenure, and put together all their notebooks, syllabi, published works and other items that demonstrate their academic excellence.

Once a professor has tenure, he or she holds the position permanently, as long as the professor continues to publish work and demonstrate an excellence in teaching.

If a professor on the tenure-track fails to receive tenure, he or she needs to find a new job, Collier said. This forces many professors to follow what Collier calls the motto of academia: “publish or perish.”

Tami Abourezk, professor of kinesiology, said she has never seen a case of male professors being preferred over females for tenure.

“Certainly not in our department,” Abourezk said. “I’m (not) aware of (it happening) at CSUN. It may be that way in other schools, but not here. The (head) of the department and the president of the school are wonderful with communicating to faculty what they value.”