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An analysis of female academic life by Bridget Turner Kelly, associate professor of education at the University of Maryland at College Park, published by the Brookings Institution, says that at best, “the process of advancing through tenure remains stagnant for women professors, at worst, some could say women ascending the professor ladder is now harder than ever.” The higher on the ladder one looks, Kelly wrote, the fewer tenured women there are. In 2016, for example, women represented 26 percent of all tenured professors, compared to 27 percent in 2003. At the same time, the overall number of female untenured, full-time faculty increased from 31 percent to 45 percent.

Kelly, whose analysis is based in part on her longitudinal study called Women in the Academy, says that she’s found over and over that women choose to remain in the academy despite gender bias and other challenges because of the work “they were privileged to do with students.” But if students are to reap the benefits “of the curricular and scholarly contributions only women faculty can make,” Kelly says, “we need to put our brains and hearts to work on making the experience of all women full-time faculty in U.S. higher education one without gender inequities.”