Princeton University marked the 10th anniversary of its entry into the brave new world of undergraduate coeducation this fall, but women faculty members say they are reluctant to join in the celebration because so few of them have been granted tenure, the virtual assurance of academic job security for life.
Of Princeton's 390 tenured professors, only 10, or 2.5 percent, are women. But Princeton's record is in keeping with tenure statistics at other prestigious private universities. At Harvard only 12 women, or 3 percent of the 364-member tenured faculty, have permanent appointments. At the University of Pennsylvania the figure is a relatively high 8.5 percent; of the school's 965 tenured professors, 81 are women.
Dr. Lilli Hornig, the director of the Higher Education Resource Services at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, says, "We suspect that women are being held to a stricter performance level in the tenure process. Their right to be in the university at all is still being challenged."
Nearly 70 percent of all male professors in the United States have tenure, while less than half of the female professors have attained the goal, according to a 1978-79 report by the American Association of University Professors.
Hornig argues that women who specialize either in the social sciences or in the growing field of women's studies are offered tenure even less frequently than women in other disciplines.
"There is evidence that women who have a reserach commitment to women's studies are taken very lightly in the tenure process. And between 1975 and 1978 in the social science fields, there was a 4 percent growth in tenure for men and only a 1.5 percetn growth in tenure for women, in proportion to the numbers of positions and candidates," Hornig said, "I think that says a lot."
At Princeton, associate professor of classics Janet Martin resigned her post as the chairman of the women's studies committee. "I left because it became clear to me that Princeton had no commitment to women's studies or the tenuring of women except in token numbers," Martin said.
Martin and several other faculty members have complied statistics that they say show Princeton to be discriminating against women in tenure.
The percentage of women in the pool of assistant professors hired by Princeton since 1973 has dipped from 30 percent to 9 percent; of the 42 senior, automatically tenured faculty members hired since 1973 from outside the university, four have been women; 31 women and 193 men began at Princeton as untenured assistant professors between 1969 and 1973 and 13 percent of the women and 19 percent of the men won tenure after their six-year terms as junior faculty were up.
"I don't think these statistics show Princeton to be at all concerned with affirmative action," said Martin, who received tenure in the spring of 1976. Martin thinks Princeton's alleged indifference to women's studies and tenure for women represents "a clearly antifeminist stance." She points to past faculty members like social historian Estelle Freedman and English professor Ann Douglas who both said they resigned because of the administration's sexism.
At Princeton last year, the various academic departments considered a total of eight eomen for tenure: all were rejected. Diane Ruble, a psychology professor who teaches a course called "Sex Roles and Behavior," was recommended for tenure by a majority vote of the senior faculty members in her department. Although the vote was 9 to 1, the faculty committee on advancement and appointments, which has the last word on tenure decisions, voted her down.
Ruble, who has said that her gender influenced the negative decision, is appealing the vote to a faculty review committee. According to Martin the Ruble decision helped ignite the controversy over women and tenure.
Facutly Dean Aaron Lemonick refused to comment on Ruble or any other pending tneure decision. He said that Princeton is not sexist in its decision. "To say that we discriminate is ridiculous. It is simply very difficult for anyone to get tenure in a time when our demographics show that the university will not be expanding very much in the near future. Women and minorities entered the academic fields after the expansion period of the 1960s" said Lemonick.
"We have to make tenure decisions very carefully and right now only one out of every four people considered do, in fact, get tenure. When you give somebody tenure, it's a decision you have to live with, quite possibly, for 35 or 40 years," he said.
Martin however, says that schools like Princeton should give tenure to more women so they may serve as role models. "It is very important for both men and women to see women in positions of intellectual and academic authority. Right now there are academic departments with no women at any levels," she said.
no women received tenure at Princeton until 1968 one year before the school opened its undergraduate doors to women students.
Women facutly members often file discrimination complaints with the American Association of University Professors, according to Dr. Lesley Francis, the organization's associate secretary. But, Francis said, it is difficult to confirm charges of sexism in the making of tenure decisions because so much of the process goes on behind closed doors.
At Princeton this year, four women, all from literature departments, are up for tenure. According to sources close to their departments, two of the four have little or no chance of gaining tenure when the decisions are announced early next year.