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Gender and promotion at Canadian Universities.

VIRTUALLY NO SYSTEMATIC RESEARCH EXAMINING THE longitudinal academic careers of Canadian academics exists. Anecdotal evidence, case studies, and cross-sectional analysis, primarily from the United States, have long served as the measures for documenting Canadian women's promotion through the ranks. This quantitative analysis of a unique longitudinal data set of Canadian faculty reveals the trends in promotion and tenure from 1984 to 1999. Contrary to deeply held beliefs, Canadian women academics are tenured at essentially the same rate as their male colleagues. Women are disadvantaged in promotion from associate to full professor.

Along with salary differences, gender differences in the probability of and time to promotion are key aspects of the status of women in universities. Initial promotion from assistant to associate professor is the normal prerequisite for keeping one's job at a Canadian university and promotion to full professor is key to gaining respect and influence in one's discipline, department, and institution and is a requirement for appointment to senior administrative positions and gate-keeping roles in granting agencies. With just three major ranks, faculty members inhabit a flat hierarchy compared with other organizations of similar scale and complexity. In Canada and the United States, promotion to the rank of associate professor has a time limit of six years and almost always involves simultaneous granting of tenure and often some pay increase. Promotion, and academic careers more generally, unfold in the dual context of disciplines and institutions.

Increased concern about fairness and the context of detailed bargaining between university administrations and faculty associations or unions have resulted in highly bureaucratic tenure and promotion procedures. Faculty members often perceive them as ambiguous and diffuse, underscored by angst and cloaked in mystery. The folklore of academic career advancement is fuelled by cases of unsuccessful tenure and promotion decisions and conventional wisdom that identifies women and racialized persons, as much more likely to be denied tenure and promotion. (1)

Despite their prominence in the academic enterprise and the working lives of academics, there is little systematic research on tenure and promotion. Many studies deal with just one discipline (Booth, Burton, and Mumford 2000; Everett, DeLoach, and Bressan 1996; Ginther 2004; Ginther and Hayes 1999, 2003; Ginther and Kahn 2004; Kahn 1993; Long, Allison, and McGinnis 1993; McDowell, Singell, and Ziliak 2001; National Science Foundation 2003) or type of institution (Bronstein and Farnsworth 1998; Johnsrud and Des Jarlais 1994; Perna 2001, 2005), or consider only limited factors that may influence career advancement, such as research productivity (Goyder 1992; Long 1978; Long et al. 1993) and marital status and family responsibilities (Goulden, Mason, and Wolfinger 2004; Mason and Goulden 2002; Perna 2005). (2)

Most studies provide only a cross-sectional view of tenure and promotion and few are based on representative and longitudinal data (see Perna 2001:542). We are not aware of a national study that tracks individual career progression. Our use of longitudinal data for all Canadian faculty gathered from administrative records has the advantages: first, of eliminating sample selection bias, a common problem in sample surveys of faculty, which rarely achieve response rates above 50 percent; second, providing much larger numbers of observations than is common in survey-based studies; and, third, eliminating measurement errors, present to some extent in retrospective measures from surveys.

We make use of Statistics Canada's annual survey of full-time university faculty, which relies entirely on records obtained from every postsecondary institution, 65 in the period that we cover. Our longitudinal analysis involved linking the records from 1984 to 1999, a time when university employment of women was growing, somewhat spurred by provincial and federal employment equity programs as well as some programs negotiated through unionized faculties.

Historically, women have been excluded from the academy and particularly from higher ranks of the professoriate. In 1960, women constituted 11 percent of all full-time faculty at Canadian universities and just 4 percent of full professors (Lee 1993). In the next two decades, there was little change. Twenty years later, in the early 1980s, women still represented only 5 percent of full professors and 16.8 percent of all full-time faculty in Canada (Dagg and Thompson 1988; Drakich et al. 1991). This disadvantage persists. In 2005/2006, 19.3 percent of full professors were women (CAUT 2008:table 2.11).

Research in a number of countries shows that women are less likely to achieve tenure (Caplan 1993; Cooper and Stevens 2002; Drakich et al. 1991; Fuchs 1998; Stalker and Prentice 1998). At 11 Australian universities, Allen and Castleman (2001:159) find that men are more likely to be in tenure-track positions and more likely to be tenured. From the 1977 to 1993 U.S. survey of doctorate recipients, Ginther and Hayes (1999) find that women in the humanities "are 25 percent less likely than their male counterparts to be promoted to tenure" (p. 399). Ginther (2004) finds that men are more likely to receive tenure than women in economics, psychology, and other social sciences, except for political science. As recently as 2004/2005, the annual report of the American Association of University Professors states that, "For as long as the AAUP survey has collected data on tenure status--since the late 1970s--approximately 47 percent women on the full-time faculty have had tenure, while 70 percent of men have" (AAUP 2005:28).

Some research is contradictory, however. At MIT, men and women faculty in the School of Engineering hired between 1977 and 1993 achieved tenure at the same rate (DuVergne Smith and Tamer 1999) and, eight years after receiving the PhD, women political scientists are more likely than men to be promoted with tenure (Ginther 2004:9). Ginther (2004) and Ginther and Hayes (2003) also find that the gender gap in promotion to tenure has declined over time.

A consistent finding is that the percentage of women and their time to promotion lag behind men. Using Statistics Canada's faculty survey, Ornstein, Stewart, and Drakich (1998) find that men were 24.1 percent more likely than women to be full professors in 1994, though accounting for age and length of employment reduced this difference to 14.5 percent. Studies of individual disciplines reflect similar patterns. For example, reporting on Stanford's medical school, Stephens (1998) found that women are underrepresented among senior faculty and that men are more likely to be both promoted and hired directly into senior positions. Accounting for race/ ethnicity and citizenship, Perna (2001) found that women are 25 percent less likely to be full professors, and in science and engineering Long finds that "at any given career age, men are more likely to be at a higher rank" (p. 172). Researchers have found that women who are promoted to full professor need more time to achieve this rank (Bayer and Astin 1975; Caplan 1993; Dagg and Thompson 1988; Krefting 2003). At UCLA, Currie and Kivelson (2000) found that women faculty were promoted more slowly than their male peers.

Many researchers have attempted to ascribe gender differences in tenure and promotion to individual and institutional characteristics, disciplinary cultures, and the academic "pipeline." Others suggest that discrimination is responsible in part for women's differential career success. For example, Ginther and Hayes (1999), accounting for gender differences in productivity, found that having a child and marital status, whether a university was public or private, and academic field only marginally reduce the observed gender differences. Kulis, Sicotte, and Collins (2002) take "the view that women's career advancement is compromised in feminized fields" (p. 686).

Some have argued that differences in the distribution of women and men over ranks are merely the result of hiring patterns that favour men--in other words, age and cohort differences account for what appears to be discrimination against women. This pipeline theory implies that time alone will even out gender differences in rank. An Australian study by Allen and Castleman (2001:161) challenges this argument in finding that even for faculty under age 30 and accounting for length of service, men were more likely to hold senior positions, already have tenure, and hold a tenurable position. Kulis et al. (2002:673) find that women's share of tenured positions in every science field falls short of their representation in the doctoral "pool."

Observed gender differences in promotion could reflect unmeasured differences between men and women faculty, as many of the studies cited above do not measure productivity and other "supply side" variables. Promotion may be most affected by research productivity (Long et al. 1993; Rosenfeld and Jones 1987). Toutkoushian (1999) concludes that "the majority of studies that have looked at faculty research productivity by gender, whether using national or institution-specific data, general or for a single discipline, have found that on average men produce more research" (p. 689), even accounting for gender differences in race, number of dependents, age, and field.

This still leaves the question of what effect productivity has on promotion. Using the 1993 (U.S.) National Survey of Postsecondary Faculty, Toutkoushian (1999) found very large gender differences in rank controlling for research productivity, race, highest degree, experience, institution, and academic field. Women experience greater disadvantage in promotion to full professor and achieving tenure than in promotion to associate professor. Without measures of productivity, Long et al. (1993) argue that "any conclusions about the processes governing advancement in rank at research universities are likely to be misleading" (p. 704).

Perna (2001) finds that controlling "human capital investment, refereed publications, and structural characteristics, women tenured faculty at [American] 4-year institutions are 10 percent less likely than their tenured male counterparts to hold the highest rank of full professor" (p. 556). In Australian universities, Allen and Castleman (2001) find some inconsistency in the research, though several studies found that women's qualifications did not explain women's disadvantage in the academy.

The effects of family responsibilities, children, and marital status have been a central theme in research on tenure and promotion. In the last several years, the topic of work-life balance has been popular in publications directed to faculty, such as Academe and the Chronicle of Higher Education in the United States and University Affairs in Canada. In a study of faculty at U.S. universities in 1998, Perna (2005:299) found that having a dependent and a partner were unrelated to tenure and rank for women, while for men, having a dependent or partner was associated with higher rank. Goulden et al. (2004) find that women with families were as likely as men to obtain a tenure-track position, but less likely to achieve tenure.

With rare exception, research employing a variety of methodologies, in different kinds of academic institutions with different structures, in a number of countries, and over a period of 30 years, shows that women lag behind men in gaining tenure and promotion, particularly promotion to full professor. Moreover, this disadvantage in tenure and promotion cannot be fully explained by gender differences in research productivity, family responsibilities, discipline, nor human capital.

How do these questions about academics fit into the vast theoretical and empirical literature on gender and occupations? This requires us to locate academics conceptually, in terms of both "industry" and occupation. Universities are medium to large bureaucratic organizations, in Canada almost entirely state enterprises, but elsewhere also nonprofit and occasionally private-sector organizations. The occupation requires a high-level educational qualification, "flexible" work hours exceeding the norm of full-time jobs, "professional" work with considerable autonomy and a relatively flat, nonhierarchical authority structure. Academics seem most to resemble physicians and lawyers, though they are not state-certified and usually work in less hierarchical and regimented environments; also, most academics do not have the alternative of self-employment or working in a small partnership, and are subject to more bureaucratic promotion processes. Academic research is like the work of some self-employed professionals, but those professionals are not employees of large organizations. (3)

Perhaps studies of promotion to partnership in law firms come closest to our particular research problem. A small literature on this issue shows considerable gender difference that cannot be explained by differences in human capital (such as law school prestige) and is related to a complex of characteristics of firms (such as the gender composition of the management of their corporate clients and areas for practice) and work performance (including billable hours and attracting new clients) (e.g., see Beckman and Phillips 2005; Gorman 2006; Kay and Hagan 1998).


Except for Lennards' (1994) survey (akin to the American 1993 Carnegie survey), no large-scale survey of Canadian academics is in the public domain. Aggregate results from Statistics Canada's annual faculty survey are limited to comparisons involving gender, age, rank, institution, discipline, and income. There is no representative, contemporary information on academic work life, faculty attitudes toward their institutions and the postsecondary system, or their more general beliefs and opinions. Information on academics' ancestry and racialization is available only from the Canadian Censuses, which do not identify individuals' institutions or disciplines. (4)

An annual census of full-time Canadian university faculty is conducted by Statistics Canada using files obtained directly from university administrations. So faculty members are not surveyed directly. Although in any one year the great majority of faculty are the same as in the previous, the surveys are usually treated as repeated cross-sections with no linkage of individuals across years, rather than longitudinally. To our knowledge, this analysis is the only longitudinal study based on linked data from the Statistics Canada faculty survey. (5) With the cooperation of Statistics Canada, we were able to create a unique linked file of faculty data from 1984 to 1999, in order to examine the progress of women through the ranks of Canadian universities. Unfortunately, we are able only to follow individuals within an institution and cannot follow individuals who change institutions or leave the academy.

The survey covers full-time faculty members who were employed for 12 consecutive months, and so includes persons on limited-term contracts, who are ineligible for tenure and promotion. (6) To our knowledge, there is no systematic data on non-full-time university teachers, even though nearly half of undergraduate classes are taught by part-time faculty at some institutions and there is reason to suspect that women, not to mention members of racialized groups, are overrepresented in this casualized work force.

Aside from a person's rank in each year, we have information on gender, age, institution, and discipline. (7) We have no measures of research productivity, service loads, differential opportunities to publish, parental status, or marital status, all of which have been shown to affect promotion. But it is hard to make the case that these are gender-neutral controls that provide fair comparisons between women and men.

Our data span the years 1984 to 1999, an ideal period to examine changing times for women faculty in Canada. The mid-1980s was a time of intense focus on the status of women and by 1985, the United Nations Year of Women, most universities had completed or were commissioning reports on the status of women faculty. The landmark Report of the Commission on Equality in Employment (often the "Abella Report," after its author) was published in 1984 and the first federal law regulating equity in employment dates to 1986. The Federal Contractors Program, which mandated employment equity for Canadian postsecondary institutions with federal contracts over $200,000 in a year, came into force in 1986. Faculty associations, particularly unionized ones, already attuned to the employment disadvantages of their women members, began to negotiate measures for proactive recruitment. Moreover, the period under study is an important baseline for new studies, as it just precedes the post-2000 wave of faculty recruitment in Canada, three decades after the previous mid- to late-1960s hiring peak.

Our empirical analysis addresses three questions. First, are women disadvantaged relative to their male peers in promotion from assistant to associate professor, either by outright denial or delay? Second, is there is a tendency for women faculty to disproportionately leave postsecondary institutions? And, third, how does gender affect promotion to full professor?


Promotions involve the "hazard" of the two irreversible transitions, from assistant to associate professor and from associate to full professor. The simplest approaches to this kind of data are to use a regression model to predict the timing of transitions and discrete time or event history models, which focus on the probability of a transition from one "state" to another, where each available unit of time for each person as a separate observation. Alternatively, "structural equation models" (SEMs) or "mixed models" can be used to estimate "growth curves" that describe trajectories of rank over time, while capturing the effects of gender, discipline, and other variables. Because all the predictors in our model are constant ("time invariant"), the first and second approaches give similar results and the greater complexity of SEMs and mixed models has no analytical payoff. So we employ regression to predict the length of rime until promotion.

Standard "ordinary least squares" regression is not appropriate, however, because the outcomes (promotion in year one, in year two, etc.) are discrete and "limited," the distributions of transition times are right skewed, many observations that are "right censored" because the period for which the data are available ends before a person is promoted. Cox proportional hazard models, which are most commonly used with data of this kind, require the assumption that the effects of predictor variables do not change over time, so each one can be represented by a single coefficient. Inspection of our data showed that the effect of gender violates this assumption, as gender has a much stronger effect on the probability of being promoted rapidly, than on the probability of promotion in later years. Accelerated failure rime (AFT) models, which we used instead, do not require this assumption. (8)

AFT models look just like conventional regression where the time until promotion is taken as the dependent variable and the regression coefficients as estimates of the effects of the predictors on the number of years to promotion. It is easiest to understand the model outcomes in terms of the effect of predictors on the median time to promotion. The median is used, rather than the mean, because the predicted times are positively skewed, correctly matching the underlying data. (9)


The Distribution of Ranks

Between 1984 and 1999, Table 1 shows, the percentage of Canadian faculty members who are women increased steadily at each rank. Change is much slower in the full professor category, however. Midway through the time period, in 1992, only 9.5 percent of full professors were women, compared with 22.0 percent of associate professors, 35.8 percent of assistant professors, and 51.2 percent below the rank of assistant professor (mostly "lecturers"). In the 15 years covered by these data, women's representation increases from 5.7 percent to 14.4 percent of full professors, from 15.3 percent to 30.5 percent of associate professors, and from 27.6 percent to 41.9 percent of assistant professors. Below the rank of assistant professor, representation rises from 38.5 percent to 52.9 percent. Considering the constraints on change that result from the long careers of faculty members and that the last year of data, 1999, is still at the very beginning of a wave of retirements by faculty hired in the great expansion of Canadian universities in the 1960s, these data are clear evidence of the increasing representation of women at all ranks.

Based on the same information as the first table, Table 2 shows the rank distribution of faculty by gender and year. The percentage of women in the ranks below assistant professor declines from 16.0 percent in 1984 to 8.4 percent in 1999, though there remain substantially more women than men at this rank. In 1999, only 2.8 percent of men were in ranks below assistant professor. There was only a small decline in the proportion of assistant professors between 1984 and 1999, from 34.4 percent to 30.0 percent for women and from 17.0 percent to 15.4 percent for men. The percentage of women associate professors increased from 36.9 percent to 39.3 percent, compared with a decline from 38.5 percent to 33.0 percent for men. The percentage of women full professors nearly doubled, from 12.7 percent to 22.3 percent, compared with an increase from 39.6 percent to 48.8 percent for men.

This is incontrovertible evidence of improvement in the status of women in Canadian universities. Also, the number of full-time women faculty increased substantially, from 5,299 in 1984 to 9,043 in 1999, while the number of men fell from 28,105 to 24,480. This reflects both the aging workforce and the promotion of women associate professors.

Analysis of Promotion from Assistant to Associate Professor

Table 3 shows the "hazard rates" for promotion from assistant to associate professor for men and women whose year of first appointment as an assistant professor is 1984 or later. (10) The table also shows the two sources of "censoring" that result in the loss of data: some faculty members leave the university before being promoted; and our data end in 1999. A faculty member who first appears in our data in 1995, for example, will only be seen as promoted between 1996 and 1999. The first four columns of the table show all the possible outcomes in each year: promotion to associate professor, non-promotion, leaving the university without having been promoted, and truncation of data in 1999. In the 15 years of data, the table describes 11,692 unique male and 6,577 unique female assistant professors.


The first column of the table shows that the rates of promotion are similar for women and men and Chart 1 shows they rise to a high peak and gradual decrease. The hazard rates are very low in the first three years of exposure when, respectively, 2.3 percent, 6.7 percent, and 11.6 percent of the still eligible (i.e., previously unpromoted) men are promoted, and 1.5 percent, 5.2 percent, and 8.9 percent of women. In the fourth year, just over one-fifth of the eligible male faculty members and one-sixth of female faculty members are promoted; and then the rates rise to over 30 percent in years 5 and 6, which is the "normal" time of promotion for Canadian faculty who are appointed as assistant professors with no previous full-time appointment. In year 6, for example, the probability that a previously unpromoted man will be promoted is 38.1 percent, compared with 32.6 percent for women. After year 7, which is past the point of "normal" promotion, the hazard rate remains very high, between 20 percent and 25 percent, at least until year 14. Failure to achieve early or "normal" promotion is thus not a permanent condition.


Table 3 shows that men are more likely to be promoted than women at every year of experience. The gender difference is not very large, but cumulatively it accounts for a widening gap in the total percentages of women and men promoted until about year 7; after that the difference in overall promotion rates narrows, as the proportion of women and men who have been promoted starts to approach 100 percent. After two years of employment, men are about 1.5 percent more likely to have been promoted; a difference then widens to about 7 percent in years 4 through 7, and then begins to narrow. Chart 2 shows more clearly the persistent early advantage of men and its disappearance by about year 8 of eligibility for promotion.

In each year, the hazard rate is computed relative only to the surviving uncensored observations. Of course, it is possible that only a small number of unpromoted faculty are able to stay in the university and those denied tenure must leave and are "censored," so the computed hazard then ignores them. This is why the results in column 3 of Table 3, which gives the hazard for leaving the university without promotion, are so interesting. If promotion processes pose a significant barrier to faculty continuing their appointments, we should observe an elevated number of exits in years 6, 7, and 8, as some faculty are promoted, some delayed for a year or two, and others terminated. By the end of year 6, nearly three-quarters of men and 70 percent of women have been promoted. Of those who did not leave, 87.8 percent of men and 82.8 percent of women are promoted from assistant professor to associate professor within the first eight years following their appointment.

While we expected that denial of tenure would cause a peak in the percentage of people dropping out of the records for a university around the six-year mark, we find that virtually everyone who does not leave an institution prematurely is eventually promoted. Promotion is not a perfect proxy for tenure, but there is a strong presumption that the two go together. The rates of departure without promotion (excluding people for whom data run out in 1999) oscillate around about 5 percent for both women and men, without a distinct pattern except for slightly higher rates in the first two years of appointment, likely due to the presence of faculty on short-term contracts at a point well before the promotion process looms as a threat.

Compounded over many years, the hazard rate of 5 percent for leaving the university without promotion still represents a considerable loss of assistant professors--at least from their institutions of initial appointment--2,951 of the 11,692 or 25.2 percent of men, and 1,607 of the 6,577 or 24.4 percent of women. We do not know how many of these get jobs at other universities versus leaving the academy. While the hazard rates for departure without promotion are nearly identical for women and men, men who leave an institution are more likely to leave in their first years of employment; 97 percent of men who leave, compared with 83 percent of women, do so in their first seven years.

Analysis of Promotion from Associate to Full Professor

Table 4 and Chart 3 show promotions to full professor for faculty members appointed as associate professors in 1984 or later. (11) Promotion to full professor is slower than the initial promotion to associate professor. The hazard rates peak at 13.6 percent for men and 11.7 percent for women, just less than one-third the peak rates for promotion to associate professor. This must reflect the "up or out" rule that obligates institutions to grant tenure or dismiss junior faculty within six years of their initial appointment (though we have just seen that it is far from perfectly applied). Chart 3 shows that the curves for women and men showing the hazard rates for promotion to full professor have the same shape. Rates are very low in the first two years, trend upward rapidly to a peak in years 5 to 7 for men and years 6 to 8 for women, and there is a gradual decline in years 8 to 19 (the final year of data), over which time the male and female rates do not differ. In year 4, the likelihood of a man attaining promotion is about 7 percent, rising to 12.7 percent, 13.6 percent, and 12.7 percent in years 5, 6, and 7, and then declining somewhat to 10.4 percent in year 8. The corresponding figures for women are 4.4 percent in year 4 and 7.8 percent, 11.7 percent, and 9.8 percent in years 5, 6, and 7, and 10.1 percent in year 8.


Chart 4 shows that the equalization of promotion rates of women and men after year 8 does not remove the male advantage in the proportion promoted built up over the first seven years of risk. It also shows quite low rates of promotion after 14 or so years. While almost every faculty member who does not leave becomes an associate professor, Chart 4 shows that about one-quarter of faculty members will reach retirement age without being promoted to full professor.

Modeling Promotion to Control for Discipline and Institution

AFT models provide quantitative estimates of gender differences in promotion that cannot be gleaned from the descriptive tables and charts, and provide a means to measure the impact of gender on promotion when other factors are taken into account. Especially because they affect the norms for and define the organizational context of promotion, we need to look at disciplines and institutions. Institutions may also have different gender cultures and practices relating to tenure and promotion (Drakich et al. 1991). Ina companion paper, we describe disciplinary and institutional differences in promotion, but our more limited concern here is to show their effects on estimates of gender differences. While women academics could be represented disproportionately in institutions with more lenient or more severe promotion practices, effects of the very large gender differences in the composition of disciplines seem more likely.


Our data are from 64 Canadian institutions, (12) mostly universities, but also a small number of colleges (some with religious affiliation), and fine arts institutions. Controls for discipline are at two levels, 21 major disciplinary groups (13) and 141 detailed disciplines, essentially departments. With many variables being considered, even with a very large number of observations, it is important to obtain confidence intervals and use significance tests for the model parameters.

Table 5 shows the results of regressing rank on gender, year of appointment, institution, and discipline. All the regression models include a measure of the year of initial appointment to the rank from which we examine promotion. While our interest is merely to "control" for secular change, those regression coefficients also reveal potentially interesting overtime change in promotional practices. We find no evidence of a change in promotion probabilities over time or a change in the difference between women and men.

AFT models yield a single coefficient for the effect of gender and its standard error. Because the metric for the model is the logarithm of time, exponentiating the regression coefficient yields a multiplier giving the factor by which the time of promotion for women exceeds the time for men (and values less than one indicate men take longer). In the first line of the table we see that the "unadjusted" effect of gender on time to promotion to associate professor is .0891, with a standard error of .0092; and the corresponding multiplier (equal to [e.sup.0891] or 1.093) indicates that women's time to promotion is 9.3 percent longer than men's. (14) With the average time to promotion equal to about five years, the gap in time is 5.6 months. The coefficient is 9.7 times its standard error, significant by any standard.

Because of the complex mathematics of AFT models and the skewed distribution of the observed times to failure, a good way to understand the model results is to compute the expected median times to promotion, that is the time by which half the persons at risk are expected to have been promoted, according to the fitted model. For the first model, this yields a median of 5.22 years for women and 4.82 years for men, a difference of 0.40 years, or 4.8 months. This is a bit lower than the multiplier of 9.3 percent suggests. Because the time difference involves the predicted medians, it will not agree perfectly with the exponentiated coefficient.

The coefficients in the top panel of Tables show that disciplinary and institutional differences in the practices of promotion from assistant to associate professor have little impact on the gender difference. There is a suggestion that women experience a slight disadvantage from their distribution among disciplines, suggesting that promotion is faster in science and engineering than in the humanities and social sciences. We take this up in another paper (Ornstein, Stewart, and Drakich 2007). The AFT models demonstrate that women are disadvantaged in promotion to associate professor, to a statistically significant extent; though the difference in median times of about five months is only moderately large.

Promotion to full professor exhibits a proportionately and numerically larger gender gap, which is substantially affected by the distribution of women among disciplines, but not by institutions. With no controls (except for "starting" time, to account for any secular change) women take 17.2 percent longer to become full professors, equivalent to 16.5 months for an expected median of eight years. Controlling for institution has no effect on this figure, but controlling on major disciplinary divisions reduces the effect to 11.1 percent and for highly detailed categories (essentially departments) it is further reduced to 9.1 percent. The differences in predicted median times are 1.00 year without adjustment, 9.27 years for women and 8.27 years for men, 0.94 years controlling for major disciplinary categories, and 0.79 years for detailed discipline. With detailed discipline held constant, the proportional effects of gender, .0677 for promotion to associate professor and .0872 for promotion to full professor are somewhat different (but not significantly, z = 1.20 only). With discipline held constant, the impact of gender on promotion to full professor is statistically significant, and the absolute difference of about one year, relative to the overall average of around nine years, is certainly meaningful.


Our findings suggest that the career trajectories of men and women in Canadian universities are converging at the junior levels, though men have a small advantage in terms of time to first promotion. In contrast with some previous research, we find that barriers to achieving tenure do not place women at a significant disadvantage in Canadian universities. Virtually all men and women who do not leave their institution are promoted to the level of associate professor, and a reasonable inference is that they are also granted tenure. Moreover, there is no evidence of a peak in departures from universities in the period five to seven years after initial appointment to assistant professor, suggestive of persons leaving after being denied tenure. There is essentially no difference between women and men in this respect. There is a slightly greater tendency for men to leave a university early in their careers, suggesting they may benefit more from mobility between institutions; it is also possible, but seems unlikely, that men are more likely to have a limited-term appointment. Because we cannot trace individuals from one institution to another, however, we cannot establish this firmly.

It is difficult to reconcile the stress and anguish attending the process of tenure and promotion to associate professor, ingrained in the Canadian university culture, with the evidence that it has no measurable effect beyond the slow dribbling away of faculty before and after the five-year point when most faculty apply for promotion and tenure. Ina personal communication, Sandra Acker, drawing on her work on academic women (Acker and Feuerverger 1996), suggested that the contrast between the stress and anguish and the facts of tenure may be fear of the stigma of being one of the few who is denied tenure.

Analysis of promotion to full professor more strongly suggests discrimination against women and the measured cost, a median delay of one year relative to men, is meaningful, though we would not say "large." Parity continues to elude academic women. Even taking into account differences in year of appointment, discipline, and institution, women associate professors are clearly less likely than male associate professors to be promoted to full professor and, where promoted, are promoted more slowly.

The sceptical reader will take issue with our findings on the grounds that we have no measure of merit. Given the broad evidence that men have more research publications, our estimates overestimate the impact of gender; lacking such a measure, our models assume that women and men are equally meritorious. This is the assumption of most quantitative studies of equity. Previous research, however, gives little reason to suppose that productivity measures will account for the observed differences. Also, there is every reason to believe that differences in the lives of women and men, especially relating to their own children and other forms of family care, affect women disproportionately and that these are not fully compensated by universities' parental leave and related policies. We would be keen to have data that measured research productivity, as well as aspects of teaching and university service, in order to understand academic lives better, but not for the edge it might give us in reducing the estimates of the impact of gender. Better yet, we would like to have data that trace faculty movement between institutions and information on ethno-racial group membership.


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York University


University of Windsor

Penni Stewart, Department of Sociology, York University, Vari Hall, 2084, 100 York Boulevard, Toronto, ON, Canada M3J 1P3. E-mail:

* This research was supported in part by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. We thank Ms. Heather Garrett of York University for undertaking much of the time-consuming task of linking and running the file and Ms. Mirka Ondack of the Institute for Social Research at York University for consultation. We are especially grateful for the help and advice of Mr. Dev Uppal, then at the Centre for Education Statistics, Statistics Canada.

(1.) The perpetuation and reinforcement of "tenure troubles" are most notable in the "Professorroman." See Elaine Showalter (2005) and William G. Tierney (2004) for a detailed review of the treatment of tenure in these novels on academic life. The research on tenure and promotion and accounts of tenure denied in publications for academics such as the Chronicle of Higher Education entrench fear and anxiety about the tenure process.

(2.) Quantitative data on tenure and promotion are obtained from a variety of sources, including surveys of individual disciplines (Booth et al. 2000; McDowell et al. 2001), institutional records (Ward 2001; Ward-Warmedinger 2000), governmental databases, such as the National Centre for Education Statistics and the Survey of Doctorate Recipients, assembled by the National Science Foundation in the United States, Statistics Canada, and the Department of Education, Science and Training in Australia, and studies by professional associations, such as the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

(3.) Thinking about higher status jobs is it common to pair professionals and managers, but academics are much more like the former. Even in government organizations, promotion of managers is much less bureaucratic than academic promotion and it is not peer-driven. So the comparison to professionals is much more apt.

(4.) Every five years, the Canadian Census provides information on ethno-racial characteristics of university faculty (and everyone else), for the one-fifth sample of the population who complete the "long form."

(5.) Partly, this is the result of difficult access to these survey data at Statistics Canada--there is no public use file, so most researchers wanting to use it must do so in Ottawa. The main use of the survey, it appears, is to produce tabulations describing the faculty for planning and bargaining purposes, all produced as "special tabulations" by Statistics Canada staff.

(6.) A limitation of this study is that tenure- and non-tenure-track individuals cannot be distinguished. It can be argued that estimates of gender differences, say, in promotion that exclude non-tenure-track persons are subject of bias as a result. Also, in Canada it is not uncommon for non-tenure-track persons to be "converted" to tenure track. But, of course, it would be better to identify these individuals. Our educated guess is that non-tenure-track positions constituted 3 percent to 5 percent of lecturers and assistant professors in the period under study.

(7.) We thank an anonymous reviewer for her or his suggestion that the analysis be expanded to include the faculty member's age, but this is not a simple matter and we have left it for further analysis.

(8.) Accelerated failure time models are parametric models whose form varies according to the observed distribution of failure times. Most appropriate for these promotion data is a log-logistic model, which is characterized by a very low initial hazard rate (almost no one is promoted after just a year or two), a rise to a sharp peak at (at about five years for promotion to associate professor and about eight years for promotion to full professor), then a very slow decline in the hazard rate that does not reach zero in the maximum time covered by the data. The analysis was conducted using the STREG in STATA. A nice discussion of accelerated failure time regression and its implementation in STATA may be found in StataCorp (2005:224ff).

(9.) It is not quite true that the median times are a simple, more concrete reflection of the coefficients from the accelerated failure time model. While negative coefficients correspond to shorter median promotion times and positive coefficients to longer times, the coefficients and medians are only approximately in the same order. This is because the AFT model does not actually fit medians, bur rather is a maximum likelihood procedure. Inspection of the medians shows they are not misleading, but it should be understood that they are estimated with error.

(10.) The data include a variable giving year at which the person was first appointed to her or his rank. So the 1984 data include assistant professors, for example, who are said to have been appointed to that rank in 1981. Using observations with appointments before 1984, however, would have introduced bias due to censoring of persons who were assistant professors before 1984 and left their university before the first observation point. Even for the persons in the first year of the data, 1984, there was a concern about the impact of censoring for persons appointed before that date. For that reason, the analysis of promotion from assistant professor is based only on respondents whose first appearance is 1984 or later. Clearly it is not possible to study the promotion of persons who first appeared in the last year of the study, 1999.

(11.) In this table, the sample is based on persons present in 1984, whose year of appointment to the rank of associate professor was 1980 or later. Because almost all associate professors have tenure, there is less risk of bias due to censoring of observations for persons leaving the university after one to four years.

(12.) Some very small institutions in the Statistics Canada data set were omitted.

(13.) The categories correspond roughly to faculties, except there is slightly more detail to account for major differences within faculties. The 21 categories are engineering, science, mathematics, pharmacy & optometry, biological science, law, theology, computer science, library science, rehabilitation, dentistry, social science, business & administration, education, phys ed, kinesiology, recreation, humanities, education nec, nursing, fine & applied arts, other health professions, and journalism.

(14.) The models were estimated with STATA, using lognormal errors, because the lognormal distribution best fits the distribution of the hazards, which is quite low at first (in years 1 to 3), rises rapidly to a peak (years 4 to 7 or 8), then declines gradually (from about year 9 on).
Table 1
Percentage of Women by Rank by Year

 Below Assistant Associate Full
Year assistant professor professor professor Total

Percentage of women

1984 38.5 27.6 15.3 5.7 15.9
1985 40.1 28.7 15.8 6.0 16.4
1986 40.0 29.1 16.4 6.4 16.9
1987 40.6 30.2 17.1 6.7 17.4
1988 41.6 31.3 17.7 7.0 18.1
1989 43.6 32.4 18.6 7.3 19.0
1990 44.2 33.4 19.6 7.7 19.7
1991 50.9 34.7 20.8 9.0 20.6
1992 51.2 35.8 22.0 9.5 21.4
1993 52.1 36.5 23.1 10.1 22.0
1994 53.6 38.4 24.4 10.7 22.8
1995 54.7 39.9 25.5 11.4 23.7
1996 54.8 40.8 26.9 12.1 24.4
1997 54.0 41.8 28.1 12.9 25.4
1998 52.8 42.2 29.1 13.7 26.1
1999 52.9 41.9 30.5 14.4 27.0

Total number

1984 2,196 6,602 12,789 11,817 33,404
1985 2,221 6,822 12,825 12,365 34,233
1986 2,323 6,911 12,703 12,674 34,611
1987 2,240 7,043 12,685 12,932 34,900
1988 2,397 7,305 12,680 13,198 35,580
1989 2,478 7,564 12,745 13,499 36,286
1990 2,409 7,842 12,707 13,843 36,801
1991 1,807 8,103 12,656 14,663 37,229
1992 1,777 8,092 12,685 14,902 37,456
1993 1,673 7,879 12,831 14,981 37,364
1994 1,533 7,387 12,857 15,044 36,821
1995 1,436 7,139 12,782 14,998 36,355
1996 1,355 6,601 12,382 14,570 34,908
1997 1,338 6,354 12,118 14,074 33,884
1998 1,387 6,273 11,978 13,976 33,614
1999 1,434 6,489 11,630 13,970 33,523

Table 2
Distribution of Ranks by Year, for Women and Men

 Percentage distribution

 Below Assistant Associate Full
 assistant professor professor professor Total Number


1984 16.0 34.4 36.9 12.7 100.0 5,299
1985 15.9 34.8 36.1 13.3 100.0 5,617
1986 15.9 34.4 35.8 13.8 100.0 5,833
1987 15.0 35.1 35.7 14.2 100.0 6,060
1988 15.4 35.4 34.8 14.3 100.0 6,455
1989 15.7 35.6 34.4 14.3 100.0 6,578
1990 14.7 36.2 34.5 14.6 100.0 7,245
1991 12.0 36.6 34.3 17.2 100.0 7,682
1992 11.4 36.1 34.9 17.6 100.0 8,013
1993 10.6 34.9 36.0 18.5 100.0 8,229
1994 9.8 33.8 37.3 19.1 100.0 8,402
1995 9.1 33.1 37.8 19.9 100.0 8,599
1996 8.7 31.6 39.1 20.6 100.0 8,532
1997 8.4 30.8 39.6 21.2 100.0 8,605
1998 8.3 30.1 39.7 21.9 100.0 8,788
1999 8.4 30.0 39.3 22.3 100.0 9,043


1984 4.8 17.0 38.5 39.6 100.0 28,105
1985 4.6 17.0 37.7 40.6 100.0 28,616
1986 4.8 17.0 36.9 41.2 100.0 28,778
1987 4.6 17.0 36.5 41.9 100.0 28,840
1988 4.8 17.2 35.8 42.1 100.0 29,125
1989 4.8 17.4 35.3 42.6 100.0 29,408
1990 4.5 17.7 34.5 43.2 100.0 29,556
1991 3.0 17.9 33.9 45.2 100.0 29,547
1992 2.9 17.7 33.6 45.8 100.0 29,443
1993 2.7 17.2 33.9 46.2 100.0 29,135
1994 2.5 16.0 34.2 47.3 100.0 28,419
1995 2.3 15.5 34.3 47.9 100.0 27,756
1996 2.3 14.8 34.3 48.6 100.0 26,376
1997 2.4 14.6 34.5 48.5 100.0 25,279
1998 2.6 14.6 34.2 48.6 100.0 24,826
1999 2.8 15.4 33.0 48.8 100.0 24,480

Table 3
Promotion from Assistant to Associate Professor
at All Canadian Universities, 1985-1999

Years since Left
first recorded university
as assistant Not unpromoted,
professor Promoted promoted before 1999

1 258 9,825 989
2 619 7,948 695
3 878 6,229 450
4 1,208 4,284 357
5 1,576 2,345 182
6 842 1,236 134
7 378 726 65
8 170 450 33
9 95 290 17
10 46 167 16
11 28 105 10
12 15 61 1
13 10 28 2
14 3 0 0
Total 6,126 2,951

1 94 5,467 584
2 264 4,447 368
3 373 3,580 241
4 559 2,589 162
5 833 1,475 93
6 443 838 76
7 195 527 41
8 120 329 16
9 56 195 13
10 38 105 9
11 18 61 4
12 10 30 0
13 4 15 0
14 2 0 0
Total 3,009 1,607

Years since Data rate for
first recorded truncated promotion,
as assistant at 1999, not based on non-
professor yet promoted Total leavers (a)

1 617 11,692 2.3
2 566 9,828 6.7
3 391 7,948 11.6
4 380 6,229 20.7
5 181 4,284 38.4
6 133 2,345 38.1
7 67 1,236 32.3
8 73 726 26.0
9 48 450 23.6
10 61 290 20.1
11 24 167 19.6
12 28 105 19.5
13 21 61 25.0
14 25 28
Total 2,615

1 432 6,577 1.5
2 388 5,467 5.2
3 253 4,447 8.9
4 270 3,580 16.9
5 188 2,589 34.7
6 118 1,475 32.6
7 75 838 25.6
8 62 527 25.8
9 65 329 21.2
10 43 195 25.0
11 22 105 21.7
12 21 61 25.0
13 11 30 21.1
14 13 15
Total 1,961

Years since unpromoted, Hazard rate Percent
first recorded removing all for leaving promoted or
as assistant censored without pro remaining and
professor cases (b) motion (c) unpromoted (d)

1 97.7 8.9 91.1
2 91.1 7.5 84.2
3 80.6 6.0 79.2
4 63.9 6.1 74.4
5 39.4 4.4 71.1
6 24.4 6.1 66.8
7 16.5 5.6 63.1
8 12.2 5.1 59.9
9 9.3 4.2 57.3
10 7.4 7.0 53.3
11 6.0 7.0 49.6
12 4.8 1.3 49.0
13 3.6 5.0 46.5

1 98.5 9.5 90.5
2 93.4 7.2 83.9
3 85.0 5.7 79.1
4 70.7 4.9 75.2
5 46.2 3.9 72.3
6 31.1 5.6 68.3
7 23.1 5.4 64.6
8 17.2 3.4 62.4
9 13.5 4.9 59.3
10 10.1 5.9 55.8
11 7.9 4.8 53.1
12 6.0 0.0 53.1
13 4.7 0.0 53.1

(a) Hazard rate for promotion is equal to the number promoted in
the year relative to sum of promoted + not promoted + in last year
and not promoted, expressed as a percentage.

(b) Percent unpromoted is equal to the compounded probability of
nonpromotion to a given year, equal to the product of the
probabilities of nonpromotion up to a given year, expressed as a

(c) Hazard rate for leaving without promotion is equal to the
number in their last year at the institution, excluding persons
at year 1999 (after which data cease) relative to the sum of
promoted + not promoted + in last year and not promoted, expressed
as a.

(d) Percent promoted or remaining and unpromoted gives the
cumulative number promoted to the given year + the number remaining
and unpromoted in that year relative to the total number ever
included in the population, excluding persons for whom data run
out, a.

Table 4
Promotion from Associate to Full Professor at All Canadian
Universities, for Persons Appointed as Associate Professor
from 1980 to 1998

Years since Left truncated
first recorded university at 1999,
as associate Not unpromoted, not yet
professor Promoted promoted before 1999 promoted

1 72 14,172 406 648
2 186 12,894 398 694
3 334 11,645 288 627
4 814 9,958 299 574
5 1,268 7,874 243 573
6 1,068 6,233 160 413
7 791 4,931 160 351
8 515 3,969 135 312
9 365 3,251 102 251
10 273 2,632 82 264
11 209 2,143 68 212
12 138 1,739 86 180
13 96 1,413 66 164
14 72 1,105 74 162
15 61 830 62 152
16 29 630 33 138
17 30 388 24 188
18 13 160 18 197
19 5 0 0 155
Total 6,339 2,704 6,255

1 14 5,000 118 374
2 32 4,467 124 377
3 77 3,905 122 363
4 173 3,329 100 303
5 259 2,673 88 309
6 314 2,041 80 238
7 200 1,587 70 184
8 160 1,247 41 139
9 100 961 43 143
10 82 732 36 111
11 58 569 24 81
12 35 451 20 63
13 30 342 19 60
14 16 263 26 37
15 12 187 22 42
16 9 132 11 35
17 2 80 5 45
18 2 40 3 35
19 1 0 0 39
Total 1,576 952 2,978

Years since
first recorded
as associate Hazard Percent Percent
professor Total rate remaining leaving
1 15,298 0.5 99.5
2 14,172 1.3 98.2 2.8
3 12,894 2.6 95.7 3.0
4 11,645 7.0 89.0 2.3
5 9,958 12.7 77.7 2.7
6 7,874 13.6 67.1 2.6
7 6,233 12.7 58.6 2.1
8 4,931 10.4 52.5 2.7
9 3,969 9.2 47.7 2.9
10 3,251 8.4 43.7 2.7
11 2,632 7.9 40.2 2.7
12 2,143 6.4 37.6 2.8
13 1,739 5.5 35.5 4.4
14 1,413 5.1 33.7 4.2
15 1,105 5.5 31.9 5.9
16 830 3.5 30.7 6.5
17 630 4.8 29.3 4.8
18 388 3.4 28.3 5.4
19 160 3.1 27.4 9.4

1 5,506 0.3 99.7
2 5,000 0.6 99.1 2.3
3 4,467 1.7 97.4 2.7
4 3,905 4.4 93.1 3.0
5 3,329 7.8 85.8 2.8
6 2,673 11.7 75.8 2.9
7 2,041 9.8 68.3 3.3
8 1,587 10.1 61.4 3.8
9 1,247 8.0 56.5 2.8
10 961 8.5 51.7 3.9
11 732 7.9 47.6 4.2
12 569 6.2 44.7 3.7
13 451 6.7 41.7 4.0
14 342 4.7 39.7 4.9
15 263 4.6 37.9 8.5
16 187 4.8 36.1 10.0
17 132 1.5 35.6 7.2
18 80 2.5 34.7 5.7
19 40 2.5 33.8 6.7

Table 5
Median Time to Promotion to Associate and to Full
Professor, from Accelerated Failure Time Models

 Standard expressed as
Variables in the error of the percent
model in addition to Regression regression women's
gender and year coefficient coefficient exceeds men's

From assistant to
associate professor
 None 0.0891 0.0092 9.3
 Major discipline 0.0743 0.0096 7.7
 Detailed discipline 0.0677 0.0097 7.0
 Institution 0.0931 0.0089 9.8
 Major discipline,
 institution 0.0774 0.0093 8.0
 Detailed discipline,
 institution 0.0720 0.0094 7.5
 Number of observations

From associate to
full professor
 None 0.1587 0.0121 17.2
 Major discipline 0.1051 0.0129 11.1
 Detailed discipline 0.0872 0.0131 9.1
 Institution 0.1520 0.0120 16.4
 Major discipline,
 institution 0.0992 0.0127 10.4
 Detailed discipline,
 institution 0.0816 0.0129 8.5
 Number of observations

Variables in the Predicted median time to promotion (years)
model in addition to
gender and year Women Men Difference

From assistant to
associate professor
 None 5.22 4.82 0.40
 Major discipline 5.26 4.85 0.41
 Detailed discipline 5.34 4.88 0.46
 Institution 5.30 4.88 0.42
 Major discipline,
 institution 5.33 4.90 0.43
 Detailed discipline,
 institution 5.39 4.92 0.47
 Number of observations 6,577 11,692

From associate to
full professor
 None 9.27 8.27 1.00
 Major discipline 9.32 8.38 0.94
 Detailed discipline 9.44 8.65 0.79
 Institution 9.52 8.42 1.10
 Major discipline,
 institution 9.62 8.54 1.08
 Detailed discipline,
 institution 9.74 8.83 0.91
 Number of observations 5,506 15,298
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