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The number of women and people of color on the tenure track has increased over the past seven years, but they still aren’t being promoted at the same rate as white men.

That’s a highlight from a new report the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR), released Thursday.

“Representation and Pay Equity in Higher Education Faculty: A Review and Call to Action,” analyzed changes in faculty representation and pay equity data across tenure status, rank, discipline and the total operating expenses of higher ed institutions between the 2016–17 academic year and the 2022–23 academic year.

“The call for a faculty that better represents the student population isn’t always matched by action, highlighting the need for a deeper look at opportunities to enhance our efforts,” the report said, also noting that meaningful change is partly hampered by a dearth of up-to-date data on faculty pay disparities and demographics.

As of last academic year, 26 percent of tenure track faculty were people of color, up from 21 percent during the 2016–17 academic year. Most of that growth, however, came from hiring more Asian and Hispanic or Latinx faculty, according to the study. For instance, in 2017, roughly 9.7 percent of full professors were Asian, which increased to 12.8 percent by 2023. In contrast, the percentage of Black full professors has only increased from 3.3 percent to 3.5nbsp;percent in the same timeframe.

The percentage of women on the tenure track also increased by 7 percent over seven years, but was mostly driven by a 36 percent increase in women of color. While Asian and Hispanic women saw the greatest boost in representation (a 74 percent and 73 percent increase, respectively, at the professor rank) the number of white women on the tenure track decreased by 3 percent over the last seven years.

Despite these overall gains, the trend of women and people of color not being promoted to associate and full professors has persisted, according to the study. In 2022–23, 35 percent of assistant professors were people of color, and 53 percent were women. At the associate professor level, only 26 percent of faculty were people of color and only 47 percent are women. And at the highest rank of full professor, people of color represented 22 percent of faculty and women represented 36 percent.

Women also made up the majority (58 percent) of non–tenure track faculty in 2023, a 2.5 percent increase since the 2016–17 academic year. Faculty of color in those positions increased 24 percent from 2016–17 to 2022–23, making up 22 percent of non–tenure track faculty.

While a recent survey by the American Association of University Professors showed that although faculty wages beat inflation this year for the first time since the pandemic, pay disparities for women and non–tenure track instructors continue.

“Combined with the fact that these groups are less likely to be promoted to higher ranks in tenure-track positions, the result is that a substantial segment of faculty, primarily women and people of color, are employed in positions that pay lower salaries throughout their careers,” CUPA-HR said in the press release.

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