Columbia University Faculty Equity Study Provides Trends and Recommendations

October 30, 2018

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Title: An Equity Study of the Tenure-Line Faculty in Arts and Sciences at Columbia University

Author: Columbia University, Policy and Planning Committee

The Policy and Planning Committee (PPC) of Columbia University released an equity study on university-wide and core division trends for faculty of color and women faculty. The report is based on online surveys, in-person interviews, and department- and university-level data. It identifies challenges faced by faculty of color and women faculty within the institution that are not unique to Columbia University. The report provides recommendations on how these challenges can be addressed. Select findings and recommendations are presented below.

Women found department climate to be less inclusive and supportive, and reported greater incidence of harassment and discrimination. Among natural sciences faculty, 55 percent of women and 18 percent of men reported experiencing harassment by colleagues. In addition, 65 percent of women in natural sciences reported experiencing discrimination by colleagues. The PPC recommends the implementation of an information escrow system to preserve and collate reports of misconduct.

Faculty of color and women faculty disproportionately participate in university-wide committee work and are more likely to serve in low-power and time consuming leadership roles. They were more likely to engage in invisible labor, such as student advising, particularly for students of color and female students. The PPC recommends the evaluation of policies on the distribution of service activities among faculty.

Faculty across core divisions criticized the strong impact of outside job offers on salaries. Outside offers are seen as “the only way to negotiate substantial salary increases” (p. 49). In natural sciences, while both women and men faculty were equally likely to obtain outside job offers, women were twice as likely to accept these offers and leave the institution. The PPC recommends incorporating service and advising into annual salary raises and to create an avenue for merit- and equity- based raises that do not depend on external offers.

To read the full report, please visit the Columbia University website.

—Georgiana Mihut

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