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CUPA-HR on Friday published a new research brief on “The Aging of the Tenure-Track Faculty in Higher Education: Implications for Succession and Diversity.” The median age of the U.S. labor force is 42 years, versus 49 for tenure-track professors, the report says. Similarly, compared to the general working population, significantly more faculty members are age 55 or older (23 percent in general versus 37 percent in academe). Consistent with other research, the brief says that women and minorities are underrepresented among professors, particularly those more senior. Women make up just 25 percent of tenure-track faculty members older than 55, for example, while racial minorities are just 16 percent.

"Since this decrease occurs in relatively recent promotions (i.e., from assistant to associate professor)," CUPA-HR notes, "it likely reflects a lack of promotion of women and minorities." As for faculty retirements on the horizon, CUPA-HR says these will vary considerably by discipline. Communications technologies, a relatively young field, for instance, has the lowest percentage of faculty members older than 55 and few full professors. Legal professions and studies, meanwhile, have a much larger percentage of older professors and full professors. The full brief, including information on methodology, is available here.