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Report Card - Employment

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The hearings leading up to the passage of Title IX were replete with statistical and anecdotal information highlighting the second-class status of women working in educational institutions. At that time, employment for women in education was characterized by:
  • lack of tenure in colleges and universities, particularly elite institutions;
  • nepotism rules that locked women out of teaching positions where their husbands were employed;
  • slower promotion rates than those of their male counterparts;
  • smaller salaries than those of their male colleagues;
  • little access to high-level administrative positions; and
  • virtually no opportunities to head colleges and universities, even in women's institutions.
After 25 years of Title IX and a Supreme Court decision declaring that Title IX prohibits employment discrimination based on sex in education, there has been progress, but there is much room for improvement. Notably, a pattern so evident at the time lawmakers debated Title IX persists: namely, women's numbers tend to decrease as the rank in the career ladder or the prestige of the educational institution increases. Women still have a long way to go to attain full equality with men in employment in educational institutions.

Women on Faculties. Before Title IX, career opportunities for women in education were concentrated in elementary and secondary classrooms across the country. At the hearings for Title IX, there was testimony that women were about 68 percent of teachers in elementary and secondary schools, 22 percent of elementary school principals, and just 4 percent of high school principals. In addition, witnesses testified that the National Education Association (NEA) found only two women among 13,000 school superintendents.

In higher education, the picture was no better. In the early 1970s, women comprised about 18 percent of the teaching faculty in colleges and universities in this country, clustered primarily in institutions that served women. For example, women accounted for 40 percent of the faculties in teachers' colleges.

Percentage of Women Teaching in Higher Education
Status 1970 1993
Full Professors 8.7 17
Assistant Professors 19.4 30
Associate Professors 15.1 42
Instructors 32.5 49

Twenty-five years after Title IX's enactment, women have improved their numbers on faculties, but remain significantly underrepresented in top positions. During the 1993-94 school year, the most recent year for which data is available, approximately 73 percent of elementary and secondary school teachers were women, but only 35 percent of school principals were women.

Women now make up less than 30 percent of all faculty members in colleges and universities, which is particularly striking since women earn closer to 40 percent of all doctoral degrees. Women are most numerous at two-year public colleges, making up 37.9 percent of faculty members, and are least represented on faculties at private four-year colleges and universities with significant research facilities, where they are only 19.5 percent of the faculty. Before Title IX, women were 10 percent of the faculty at such institutions.

In addition to making up a minority of the teaching faculty at colleges and universities around the country, women generally have remained in the lower faculty ranks, just as was true before Title IX's enactment. A study by the NEA cited during Title IX's hearings found that women made up 32.5 percent of instructors, 19.4 percent of assistant professors, 15.1 percent of associate professors, and 8.7 percent of full professors. Only 9 percent of women who embarked on college teaching careers attained the rank of full professor at that time. Women were promoted far more slowly than their male counterparts, and they often lacked tenure.

In 1993, women were 17 percent of all full professors, 30 percent of associate professors, 42 percent of assistant professors, and 49 percent of instructors. Women of color made up 1.9 percent of full-time professors. Forty-one percent of all female faculty were employed part-time, compared to 29 percent of male faculty. In 1994, 72 percent of all male teachers were tenured, compared to only 48 percent of female faculty.

Women in Administration. When Title IX became law, women were noticeably absent at the administrative level in educational institutions across the country. Women reached the rank of department chair at the absurdly low level of less than one percent. The number of women college presidents–less than 150–was incredibly low, even at women's colleges.

Today, more than 450 educational institutions are headed by women. However, there are approximately 3,400 institutions of higher learning in this country, which means fully 87 percent are headed by men. Women administrators are more likely than men to hold positions in external affairs and student services than in executive, administrative, and academic affairs. Within each of these administrative categories, women on average are employed at lower ranks and earn lower salaries than their male counterparts. Salary differences are especially prevalent in the upper ranks.

Wage Gaps. Equal pay for equal work has not been a reality for women employed in educational institutions. Before Title IX, women received smaller salaries than their male colleagues at all faculty ranks, and the wage gaps increased as they progressed up the career ladder. During the hearings on Title IX, there was testimony that women professors received an average salary of $11,649, compared to $12,768 for men.

Women still have not achieved parity 25 years later. According to the American Association of University Professors, the average salary for women full professors for academic year 1996-1997 was $60,681. In contrast, male full professors earned on average $69,569. Women thus earned only 87 percent of the salaries received by their male counterparts. Similar gaps exist for women associate and assistant professors: women associate professors earned only 93 percent of the salaries earned by their male counterparts, and women assistant professors earned 93 percent. Thus, 25 years after Title IX became law, women are still being paid significantly less than their male counterparts.

Room for Improvement
  • Women are less than 35 percent of school principals.
  • Women are 17 percent of all full professors. Women of color are only 1.9 percent of full professors. Women are least represented at elite educational institutions, making up just 19.5 percent of the faculty.
  • Research indicates that women faculty are evaluated more harshly by their colleagues and students than male faculty.
  • Women head 13 percent of colleges and universities.
  • Pay inequities persist: women full professors earn 87 percent of the salaries their male counterparts receive; women elementary school teachers earn 92 percent of the salaries their male counterparts receive.

As in higher education, the salaries of women teachers and principals in elementary and secondary education continue to lag behind the salaries of their male counterparts. For example, the average base salary for full-time female teachers in public elementary schools during the 1993-94 school year was $33,384, compared to $36,182 for men; the average base salary for full-time female teachers in private elementary schools was $21,657, compared to $28,948 for men. Salaries for male and female principals in public elementary schools had the smallest discrepancy: women principals had an average salary of $54,736 while male principals average $54,922. In private elementary schools, the average salary for women principals was $27,701, compared to $32,039 for men.

The persistence of these disparities is troubling given that the Supreme Court ruled in 1982 in North Haven Board of Education v. Bell that Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in employment in federally funded education programs. Despite this decision, many lower courts have held that Title VII–the federal statute that prohibits discrimination in employment based on gender, among other characteristics–provides the exclusive remedy for individuals alleging employment discrimination based on sex in federally funded educational institutions. Some courts appear reluctant to allow plaintiffs to recover damages for employment discrimination under Title IX because the statute does not have a cap on damages (which Title VII does).

Title IX clearly was intended to protect women from discrimination by educational institutions in the employment context. Yet, despite this clear intent and a Supreme Court decision affirming this proposition, women still lag behind men in nearly every aspect of faculty and administrative employment at educational institutions. While the gaps may have closed to some extent in the years since Title IX became law, significant disparities persist.

Grade: C-


  • OCR should include employment issues in its enforcement efforts, including conducting compliance reviews, collecting data regarding the status of women employed in educational institutions, and referring cases of noncompliance to the Department of Justice.
  • The Departments of Education and Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission should collaborate on reinstating data collection of employment data from elementary and secondary school systems, as well as the schools within such systems or districts. This practice was discontinued in 1996. In addition, similar efforts should be made regarding institutions of higher learning. Such data is critical for civil rights enforcement.
  • Postsecondary institutions should gather their own statistical information, such as data regarding salaries, benefits, promotions, special perquisites, awards, grants, course load, advising load, and committee assignments, to determine if men and women at all ranks and within all units are treated equitably.
  • Administrators at postsecondary institutions should monitor and train search committees so that they understand and can address the barriers to hiring women.
  • Postsecondary institutions should ensure that each search committee includes an affirmative action 'advocate'––not necessarily a woman or a person of color–– works to ensure that the committee treats all candidates fairly.
  • Postsecondary institutions should develop an exit interview process to solicit information about the climate for women and other issues from faculty members and staff who leave for other employment, whatever the reason.
  • Discrimination Against Women: Hearings on Section 805 of H.R. 16098 before the Special Subcommittee on Education of the House Committee on Education and Labor, 91st Congress, 2d Session (1970).
  • Linda Knopp,'Women in Higher Education: A Mid–1990s Profile', Research Briefs (American Council on Education, 1995).
  • Lakoski v. James, 66 F.3d 751 (5th Cir. 1995).
  • National Association for Women in Education, About Women on Campus, Winter 1996 and Winter 1997.
  • North Haven Board of Education v. Bell, 456 U.S. 512 (1982).
  • U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics (1996).
  • Martha West, 'Women Faculty: Frozen in Time,' Academe, July–August 1995, Vol. 81, No. 4.






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