Santa Fe Institute

Roots of gender imbalance in university faculty hiring

Feb. 10, 2016 6:16 p.m.

Computer science is largely a man’s world, especially in academia where women hold just 15 percent of all tenure-track faculty positions. This gender imbalance is a social justice issue, and it likely impedes innovation in the field.

If universities better understood the roots of this disparity, particularly within their hiring processes, they could do something about it, say two SFI-affiliated researchers who looked into what might be contributing to the problem.

SFI External Professor Aaron Clauset (UC Boulder), SFI Omidyar Fellow Daniel Larremore, and UC Boulder PhD candidate Samuel Way find that the causes of hiring imbalances are complicated and often subtle. The authors suggest that while overt gender bias might not be the main cause of this imbalance, important contributing factors like productivity, publication rates, and relocation to take a new position do correlate with gender.

“These findings illustrate the subtle nature of gender inequality in faculty hiring networks and provide new insights to the underrepresentation of women in computer science,” write the authors. 

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