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Women, High education






As we think about best practices for promoting the lives and careers of women in the academy, we should note that a revolution is underway in American society that shows no sign of reversing itself in the long term. For the first time in history, women are half of all U.S. workers. This is a social transformation that affects every aspect of our lives. And it is certainly affecting the landscape of the academy. Women are the majority. We earn 60 percent of the college degrees awarded each year and half of the PhDs and professional degrees. In the past 20 years, the proportion of female college and university presidents has more than doubled. In 1986, less than one in 10 presidents was a woman. In recent years, according to surveys from the American Council on Education, that number has grown to one in four, and 38 percent of chief academic officers are women, although there are still painfully few women of color as presidents or provosts.1 After college graduation, women keep working. Among college-educated women, 81 percent were in the labor force in 2008, a factor that drops only 3 percentage points when women become mothers. But, as we are well aware, being in the majority isn’t yet enough.

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Washington University, St. Louis February 17, 2010


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