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Campus Women Lead

Winter 2009

Volume 37
Number 3

Faculty Work


Director's Outlook

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Ashley Finley  
Ashley Finley

Women as Contingent Faculty: The Glass Wall
By Ashley Finley, assistant professor of sociology at Dickinson College and national evaluator for Bringing Theory to Practice, an independent project in partnership with AAC&U and funded by the Charles Engelhard Foundation

Women’s inability to consistently reach the same tenure and pay levels as men has provided strong evidence for the existence of a glass ceiling in higher education. But as many commentators have noted, the more compelling source of women’s inequality may more closely resemble a glass wall (Comer and Dollinger 1997). A disproportionate number of female faculty members currently reside in contingent positions, where they are effectively cut off from even the opportunity to seek tenure promotion and associated pay increases. As economic factors ensure that contingent faculty positions will continue to proliferate, women’s disproportionate share of these jobs has become a salient, if not central, source of professional limitation.    



Inger Bergom   Jean Waltman  
Inger Bergom
Jean Waltman

Satisfaction and Discontent: Voices of Non-Tenure-Track Faculty
By Inger Bergom, research assistant, and Jean Waltman, research specialist, University of Michigan Center for the Education of Women

They go by a number of names: lecturers, instructors, adjuncts, part-timers, and contingent faculty, among others. Whatever they are called, non-tenure-track (NTT) faculty—who represent 48 percent of faculty at doctoral and research universities, and 68 percent at all U.S. degree-granting institutions (AAUP Contingent Faculty Index 2006)—are integral to academia. Higher education administrators value NTT faculty as high-quality, dedicated teachers who not only increase their departments’ flexibility “to meet short-term needs for special staffing and expertise” (American Federation of Teachers 2003), but also possess specialized skills, knowledge, and enthusiasm. As an administrator at a liberal arts college explained, “Our best new faculty are non-tenure track faculty. They are dynamic and committed, interested in professional development and institutional success” (Center for the Education of Women 2007).

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