Faculty Diversity in Historical Perspective

Annual report on Harvard professoriate details the tenuring of women

The 2011 annual report of the office of the senior vice provost for faculty development and diversity, just published, includes an elaborate timeline documenting the first appointments of tenured women professors in each of Harvard’s faculties (beginning with historian Helen Maud Cam in 1948), and in the decanal and senior administrative ranks. It is a startling representation of just how recently the faculty ranks came to include women.

The report’s annual summary of faculty composition by school shows few surprises, given the relatively slow growth in appointments during the past couple of years of financial restraint throughout the University. The total ladder faculty (those with tenure, and assistant or associate professors) numbers 1,570, up just 1 percent from 2010, with continued growth in the tenured ranks. Just over one-quarter (26 percent) of the ladder faculty members are women—in line with prior-year data—and as before, about one-fifth of tenured professors are women, while slightly more than one-third of the junior faculty members are women.

About 20 percent of faculty members are identified as minorities; of these, about two-thirds identify as Asian/Pacific Islanders; Blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans represent 3 percent, 4 percent, and 0.3 percent of the entire faculty, with notable growth in the Latino ranks during the past several years, but almost no net growth in Black faculty members.

For a longer-term perspective on the evolving composition of the University’s faculty, see “Professorial Permutations,” one of the features in Harvard Magazine’s 375th anniversary issue, published in September-October.

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