New Publication on Retention and Promotion of Women and Underrepresented Minority Faculty

A new paper titled, “Retention and Promotion of Women and Underrepresented Minority Faculty in Science and Engineering at Four Large Land Grant Institutions,” authored by Marcia Gumpertz, Statistics, NC State; Raifu Durodoye, Delaware Department of Education; Emily Griffith, Statistics, NC State; and Alyson Wilson, Statistics, NC State has been published in PLOS ONE, a multidisciplinary open-access journal.


The current climate on college campuses has brought new urgency to the need to increase faculty diversity. In STEM fields particularly, the dearth of underrepresented minority (URM) and female faculty is severe. The retention and success of African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian and female faculty have direct implications for the quality and diversity of the future scientific workforce. Understanding the ways retention patterns differ by discipline and institution is crucial for developing a diverse faculty. This study investigates tenure attainment, retention and time to promotion to full professor for women and URM faculty. We analyze personnel records for assistant and associate professors hired or appointed from 1992 to 2015 at four large land grant institutions. Representation of women and URM faculty in STEM disciplines increased substantially from 1992 to 2015, but mostly for women and Hispanic faculty and more slowly for black and American Indian faculty. In the most recent cohort, 2002-2015, the experiences of men and women differed substantially among STEM disciplines. Female assistant professors were more likely than men to leave the institution and to leave without tenure in engineering, but not in the agricultural, biological and biomedical sciences and natural resources or physical and mathematical sciences. In contrast, the median times to promotion from associate to full professor were similar for women and men in engineering and the physical and mathematical sciences, but one to two years longer for women than men in the agricultural, biological and biomedical sciences and natural resources. URM faculty hiring is increasing, but is well below the proportions earning doctoral degrees in STEM disciplines. The results are variable and because of the small numbers of URM faculty, the precision and power for comparing URM faculty to other faculty were low. In three of the four institutions, lower fractions of URM faculty than other faculty hired in the 2002-2006 time frame left without tenure. Also, in the biological and biomedical and physical and mathematical sciences no URM faculty left without tenure. On the other hand, at two of the institutions, significantly more URM faculty left before their tenth anniversary than other faculty and in engineering significantly more URM faculty than other faculty left before their tenth anniversary. We did not find significant differences in promotion patterns between URM and other faculty.