Tapkannia Koeun/Contributing Writer
Less than half of FIU faculty members are women, they represent 41 percent overall in fall 2016, according to the Office to Advance Women, Equity & Diversity.
Only 924 women are professors compared to the 1,153 men who hold that position. However, more women, 1,149 more specifically, hold non-instructional positions according to data retrieved from the Office of Analysis and Information Management.
The Office to Advance Women, Equity & Diversity is working on a five-year plan to increase female faculty members and diversify the faculty with African-Americans and Latinos at the University.
“We are developing new programs and activities that can lead to more balanced hiring and improvements in the climate for women and minority groups,” said Suzanna Rose, founding associate provost of the office and professor of psychology and women’s studies. “[They] involve mentoring, interactive theater, and bystander intervention workshops to benefit all faculty and to increase faculty diversity and excellence over the next five years of the grant.”
The office is an initiative committed to gender equity and diversity in faculty positions; the focus of the grant is to create pioneer women in their fields, Rose says, in order to promote success in male-dominated arenas.
The ratio of FIU female to male faculty members differ depending on tenure and department, with 37.5 percent of women among the tenured faculty, according to Rose. Tenured members conduct research for their corresponding departments and possess higher salaries in comparison to professors.
However, the science, technology, engineering, and math departments include the fewest female faculty, 43 percent amongst all the departments. Notably, there is a lack of women who acquire the roles of professor and senior instructor in STEM.
An explanation to these statistics, could derive from a social norm: the majority of women associated with primary and secondary education versus the majority of men holding higher education roles.
“There is definitely such a stereotype. Just do a google image search, you will mostly see images of women for ‘teacher’ and mostly images of men for ‘professor,’” said Rose.
The lack of female professors also correlates to the level of academic enrollment; the Office of AWED observed that when there is a low number of women professors, female students are less likely to obtain undergraduate or graduate degrees in any field of interest.
The lack of female faculty affects not only student enrollment, but also hinges on the psychological state of isolation in the workplace.
“Research has shown that there is less conflict and more satisfaction between employees when there is more gender balance,” said Rose, who holds a doctorate in psychology.
A woman who is the only female employee in a work environment, could lead to a sense of isolationism and can hinder a woman’s career development. In some cases, mental and physical health are negatively impacted, Rose says.
As a result, The Office to Advance Women, Equity & Diversity is trying to improve the inadequate female to male faculty ratio. With a $3.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation, the grant directly improved the percentage of female STEM faculty from 13 percent to 18 percent since the endowment was awarded.