Women now make up the majority of college students, according National Student Clearinghouse, “a nonprofit education partner to the nation’s colleges and universities, providing them with critical educational reporting, verification and research services.” They found in their most recent data that women make up roughly 60% of students while men make up roughly 40%.
This is also the case on IUPUI’s campus.
For the fall 2021 semester, IUPUI reported that roughly 60.5% of the students enrolled were female and 39.5% of the students enrolled were male.
Faculty statistics at universities reflect a different makeup. According to IUPUI’s Office of Academic Affairs, 43.6% of Full-Time Academic Employees are women and 56.4% are men.
When broken down by school and department, STEM, journalism and smaller departments, such as geography and philosophy, reflect these numbers the most heavily.
The Department of Geography is made up solely of five men. The Department of Philosophy is made up of eight men. The Department of Journalism’s permanent faculty is currently composed of three men and one woman.
On a broader scope, the School of Engineering and Technology has only 36 female Full-Time Academic Employees and 93 male Full-Time Academic Employees. The School of Science has a slightly larger percentage of female Full-Time Academic Employees compared to the School of Engineering and Technology with 65 female employees and 113 male employees.
However, the percentage of female employees in the School of Science, 37%, is only slightly larger than the percentage of female employees in the School of Engineering and Technology, 28%. These are still drastically small numbers compared to their male counterparts.
One female student said that this lack of representation makes her feel out of place or more aware of the fact that she’s a woman and how that plays into class dynamics.
“It makes me more aware of the things I do, say, post, [and how I] react in different situations,” freshman Biology major Tiara Jones said.
During her first semester, Jones said she had five male professors and TAs compared to four female professors and TAs. In her second semester, she had six male professors and TAs and two female professors and TAs.
Jones also said that as a Black woman she particularly feels there’s a “lack and a disconnect” with women of color in STEM fields.
This gap translates to experiences in the classroom as well. Jones said that she’s been frequently second-guessed and talked over in her classes.
Not seeing as many women teaching in the classroom can also be discouraging for female students in these departments who hope to find jobs after graduation in those fields.
“It makes me wonder if they were all like 90% men and 10% women if I would even get a chance to do [the job] over a man,” freshman journalism student Grace Suhre said.
Jones has a more optimistic perspective on seeing her female professors in the classroom. “They’re defying odds being where they are,” Jones said.
As far as reasons for these gaps, it could also be due to the fact that there’s such a low hiring rate in smaller departments like journalism and philosophy.
The Department of Journalism used to be its own school until it was added to the School of Liberal Arts in July of 2014. Kathleen Ferguson, Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, believes that this contributed as well.
“We inherited a school that was predominantly white men, but then we haven’t had an opportunity to add to the ranks very much,” Ferguson said.
It’s also a goal of the Office of Academic Affairs to recruit more women and people of color.
“Our goal is for our students and our faculty to sort of be mirrors of one another,” Ferguson said.
Chris Lamb, Chair of the Journalism and Public Relations department, said that the journalism department will take this diversity gap into account when they have the ability to hire someone new.
“I have told my department that the next permanent hire will be a woman who is a minority. Therefore, when we are allowed to hire another faculty member, it will be a female and it will be a person of color,” Lamb said.
Lamb also said that, in particular, the School of Liberal Arts has been in a hiring freeze since he was hired nine years ago, making it hard to diversify their faculty when they are unable to hire new faculty at all.
As a whole, IUPUI is also working on several initiatives to close this gender gap among faculty. Ferguson says that IUPUI just received a grant to fund EPIC on campus.
According to IUPUI’s Office of Academic Affairs website, the goal of EPIC (Evidence-Informed Promotion of Inclusive Climate) is to emphasize diversity and train students to become “equity-minded leaders.”
ASPIRE is another initiative IUPUI participates in that aims to recruit and support “underrepresented faculty,” particularly in the STEM field.
“I do know from the research, and from reporting about students here at IUPUI, that it’s important to students to see people who look like them and who they see themselves in,” Ferguson said.
Hanne Brandgard (she/her) is a freshman journalism major. She enjoys watching movies and reading books in her free time.