Advancement Gaps Persist for Underrepresented Faculty

By  - 
woman holding two uneven stacks of coins

The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) released a new report showing that despite recent increases in the number of tenure-track women and faculty of color, barriers to advancement in academia persist for those with one or more marginalized identity.

Analyzing data collected from their annual workforce surveys on full-time tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty from fall 2016 to spring 2023, CUPA-HR determined that women and faculty of color are being promoted to senior faculty ranks at a significantly lower rate than White men.

The report notes that only 26% of associate professors were faculty of color, and 47% were women in the 2022-2023 academic year. Among the higher ranks of full professors, however, just 22% were people of color and 36% were women. 

“The only group that experiences greater representation with each rank increase is White male faculty,” the report said. 

As these promotions are the primary opportunities for tenure-track faculty to substantially increase their salary, “promotion denials are salary increase denials,”  the report states. 

Also noted is the persistence in pay gaps for those from marginalized backgrounds in non-tenure track positions, and that women and faculty of color are better represented in these roles than in senior ranking, higher-paying positions, in which they continue to be vastly underrepresented. 

Additionally, there was an overall decline in tenure-track positions, falling from 73% to 66% over the report’s measured timeframe. 

In the report, CUPA-HR recommends that higher education leaders examine promotion processes, conduct comprehensive pay equity audits, and prioritize inclusive retention strategies “to assist with institutions’ progress toward fostering an environment that supports equitable opportunities for all faculty members, enhancing pay equity and promotional pathways.”