Women and minority faculty at ND

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Author: Mike Connolly '02

Five years after the University created diversity officers in each college to help increase the number of women and minority faculty, the results have been mixed, according to the Academic Affirmative Action Committee’s latest report.

The committee is charged with evaluating affirmative action hiring practices and retention rates of the various academic departments and colleges and advising them on how to improve the percentage of women and minorities in each department.

During the five years starting in the fall of 1996, the number of women on the faculty increased by 33 to 153, or 21 percent of the regular teaching and research faculty. But the number of Hispanic and African-American faculty remains low. Only 4.1 percent of the faculty identify themselves as Hispanic and 2.2 percent as African-American. Notre Dame added five African-American and five Hispanic faculty between 1996-97 and 2000-01.

Carol Mooney, vice president and associate provost, said the discrepancy between women and minority hirings is due mostly to the larger number of women receiving Ph.D.s compared with minorities.

“The number of women receiving Ph.D.s is much higher than it was a couple of decades ago,” the law professor and committee member said. “We haven’t seen that same increase in the number of minorities receiving Ph.D.s.”

Although 30 percent of the University’s faculty hires during the five-year period were women, that was still lower than the national rate of women receiving Ph.D.s during that time, 42 percent. One reason has to do with curriculum. Women earn 64 percent of all education Ph.D.s, according to the report, but Notre Dame doesn’t have an education college or department.

In certain fields Notre Dame actually exceeds the average for women faculty. For instance, 56 percent of all anthropology professors nationally are women, but Notre Dame’s anthropology department is 71 percent female, as is the government department.

“It’s just a few people putting out tremendous effort,” Mooney said of the recruitment successes. “It’s not just a little bit of effort. It’s a quantum leap.”

In departments that have seen lower rates of minority and women hirings, it’s not necessarily from lack of effort, however, according to Ram Ramanan, chair of the Academic Affirmative Action Committee and a professor of accountancy. Engineering colleges have an especially difficult time hiring women and minority professors because there are so few available from the top universities where Notre Dame recruits.

“They go out and beat the bushes to find good people but sometimes it doesn’t work out,” he said. Competition from other top schools further dilutes the pool of available applicants.

Ramanan said the goal of the committee remains to encourage long-term planning and increased efforts to hire minorities.

“You don’t want to look at the annual numbers too much and get too encouraged or discouraged. You have to look at the big picture.”


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