New study concludes having women at the top of institutions is crucial to increasing the number of women among the junior faculty ranks.

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From Inside Higher Ed:

Does having a woman in the top job (or the No. 2 slot) make a difference? When it comes to faculty hiring, the answer appears to be Yes. And having a critical mass of women on boards of trustees also makes a difference. These are the results of a study released Tuesday by the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute. The arrival of significant numbers of women in the academy and among the ranks of senior administrators has led to much speculation about the impact of having women leaders at institutions doing hiring. The new study — using a large sample of institutions, a long time frame, and a methodology that seeks to account for other factors in hiring — could provide new evidence to those who argue that change at the top of institutions is crucial to promoting change at the junior faculty ranks as well.

The new study builds on the findings of one released by the Cornell center in January, finding that women have made slow but steady progress in their representation on college boards. Between 1981 and 2007, the percentage of trustees who are women increased to 31 percent from 20 percent. The research was conducted by the Cornell researchers for the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. When those findings were released in January, researchers said that a logical next question was to explore the impact of having women in leadership positions.

To examine that question, the new research uses data on hundreds of four-year colleges and universities, the gender split on their faculties from 1984 to 2007, and information on their presidents, provosts and board members. The formula used also takes into consideration the “expected” growth in female shares of faculties, by considering the differing supplies of female doctorates by field, and the relative emphasis at different colleges on fields where there are differing supplies of faculty talent. ….

Read the entire piece here. Via Joan Heminway.

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