FWD: notes for the network -- reply to Michael Forstadt

Tue, 7 Jun 1994 13:29:51 -0600

My colleague George Saunders forwarded me Michael Forstadt's
comment on the network about gender and hiring practices
in anthropology. Since I do research on women and men in
anthropology and can provide some corrective data. My
information is based on a series of studies done for
COSWA (Committee on the Status of Women in Anthro) and a
separate long-term project Gene Hammel has been working on
for several years. I also know something about the stats
that the AAA collects for its own information.

First, gender equity has been achieved in anthropology at
the lower ranks. There is every indication that the proportion
of women at the higher ranks will equalize as this
younger cohort ages, and the older (male-dominated) cohort

Ratios of women to men Ph.D.s in anthro is greater than 1:1.
It was 1:1 in 1984-5. It is currently closer to 6:4. The
proportion of women being hired at the assistant prof level
is also greater than 1:1. There may be evidence that women
are being hired at a slightly higher proportion than men.
However, the gender ratios on university campuses in the U.S.
are still VERY uneven, and hiring more women than men is
one way that universities and departments may be trying to
catch up. A department with 3 men and 1 woman may try
deliberately to replace the retiring man with a woman.
The ratios on universities campuses are still, according to
AAUP stats, 69 percent male! In anthropology, my data
show that, for a population consisting almost entirely
of full-time faculty, 60 percent are still men. I suspect
that if we controlled for existing gender ratios in
the departments deliberatly trying to hire women (and people
of color) we would see greater imbalance in those departments.

This does not mean those departments won't resist, or that
men in those departments won't resist.

The problem is not buying into an old boy network. The real,
underlying problem facing women academics is not something
easy to identify. It seems to be an ongoing, lifelong set
of disadvantages that place women in a position of
accumulated disadvantage more often than men. Women publish
less than men, women are more likely to take longer to the
Ph.D. than men (and taking longer to the phd predicts a
whole set of other disadvantages), women are harmed by gaps
in service. There are no easy explanations for these things,
and marriage and childbearing don't help us to understand
it all that much. I am sure that women in my age cohort
can look back over their lives and tell you about
accumulated disadvantage (my parents did not save money
for college for me because I was a girl -- and they spent
my childhood wishing they had a boy). The problem is much
like the problem of why girls do worse than boys on the
math section of the SAT. There is still work to be done!

So I am not very sympathetic when I hear men moaning about
being disadvantaged in job searches. My lack of sympathy
is not about accusing them of being sexist. I feel this
way because I've seen the data.

By the way, the next time somebody tells you the battle
is over, walk through the first class section of a plane
and count the number of women in first class seats. Very

Candice Bradley
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Lawrence University