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Research indicates that women associate professors often hit the ‘glass ceiling’ in their career progression. National-level data and recent faculty satisfaction surveys at Purdue call for an urgent need to support women associates and enable their promotion to full professor.  The Susan Bulkeley Butler Center for Leadership Excellence, ADVANCE Purdue and the Office of the Provost take this responsibility seriously and will host an annual conference for associate professors each year in the spring.

Female students have earned half or more of all doctoral degrees for almost a decade, yet few hold tenured or leadership positions in academia.[1] According to 2015 data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), women in the U.S. continue to be underrepresented among full-time faculty in degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the U.S.  This disparity was most prevalent in statistics for full professors where, among White, Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islanders, the percentage of male professors was double or more than double their female counterparts.  In contrast, women made up higher percentages of part-time instructors and lecturers than their male counterparts, with the numbers becoming more even at the assistant professor level and being surpassed at the associate professor level.[2] Women held nearly half of all tenure-track positions in the U.S. in 2015, but held only 38.4 percent of the tenured positions.1 According to Purdue’s Data Digest, in 2017, about 20% of full professors are women.

Universities need to invest in women faculty to ensure that they succeed and maintain momentum to advance to leadership positions. The conference will allow participants to network with peers and leaders on campus.



[1] Johnson, Heather L. 2017. Pipelines, Pathways, and Institutional Leadership: An Update on the Status of Women in Higher Education. Washington, DC: American Council on Education.

[2] U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2017). The Condition of Education 2017 (NCES 2017-144), Characteristics of Postsecondary Faculty.

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