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Since the suffrage movement of the 1920s, women have strived to obtain the same opportunities as men, both in and out of the workplace. Northern Kentucky University is another example of how the battle of the sexes is evening out nationally in recent years, with women faculty gaining a greater foothold.
Of NKU’s 973 faculty members, 493 professors are women, according to the Common Data Set from the 2005-06 school year. Male teachers are actually the minority, with only 480 instructors.
While women may be the dominate gender in department offices, there are still more men in the classroom. Of the 493 female professors on campus, only 268, or 54 percent, have full-time teaching status, with the remaining 225, or 46 percent, being part-time faculty. While the men may have fewer total faculty members, 276, or 57 percent, have full-time teaching status, leaving only 204, or 43 percent, to be part-time teachers.
“Where it’s clear they are behind is when you look at the rank of full professor,” said Nancy Hancock, the director of Women’s Studies and an associate professor of philosophy. It goes along with the national trend, she said, of more female instructors having lower ranks than their male counterparts. This leaves females with less chance to gain tenure status.
“This is another issue that higher education in general needs to address, and that is the majority of women in higher education are either adjunct faculty, which means they’re temporary, or they are junior faculty,” Hancock said.
The student population shows similar statistics that the university is dominated by women. Currently, 42 percent of NKU’s undergraduate population is male, accounting for 5,039 out of 12,086 students. In contrast, 7,047, or 58 percent, of undergraduates are female.
“We do have more women joining sororities,” said Tiffany Mayse, assistant director of Student Life. Women are more involved with student life in general, and they’re taking on more leadership roles as well, Mayse continued. “More women are definitely involved.”
It’s fairly consistent with national trends, she added.
These numbers haven’t changed much over the years. In the 1999-2000 school year, 4,334 of the 10,644 undergraduate students were male, and 6,310 were female. In other words, the student population was similarly divided, with 59 percent of the undergraduate population on campus being female.
Even with some of the inequalities in the gender of NKU faculty, minorities make up fewer than 10 percent of the teachers on campus, with 82 instructors hailing from a non-Caucasian background.
“I’m not thinking along the lines of more black faculty, more minorities, because it doesn’t matter how many more you’ve got if you’re not representing the larger interest of the community,” said Michael Washington, the director of Afro-American Studies and a history professor at NKU.
“So we’re not talking quantity, we’re talking quality of human interaction,” Washington said. “It’s not the number you’ve got, it’s what’s happening in the institution with those numbers.”