Gender diversity strategy in academic departments: exploring organizational determinants


Full inclusion of women into the academics remains a daunting challenge in the United States. The situation is particularly acute within science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields where the underrepresentation of women and their career disadvantages attract a great deal of attention. Based on a dataset combining a survey of department chairs and their performance indicators, we attempt to investigate organizational determinants of gender diversity strategies in the STEM fields. The findings suggest that academic departments’ commitment to a gender diversity strategy is related to their chairs’ administrative power and their assessment of current gender diversity status. Moreover, the commitment signals departments’ responses to social demands for more female faculty members. Nevertheless, women chairs prove less likely to pursue a gender diversity strategy, and more female faculty members hardly increase the likelihood of adopting such a strategy. The findings require care in interpretation because in cases where there are more women, the perceived need for adding women may be lessened. As such, gender diversity strategy may be compensatory in nature. The present study underscores the need for richer theories about recruitment of women STEM faculty and possibly, modifications in public policy for STEM human resources.

Full Paper

Su, X., Johnson, J., & Bozeman, B. (2015). Gender diversity strategy in academic departments: exploring organizational determinants. Higher Education, 69(5), 839-858.