The median age for tenure-track faculty members is 49, according to a recently released data brief from CUPA-HR, the association for human resources professionals in higher education. That median age is seven years older than the median for the typical American worker, which isn't surprising given that professors required advanced training and credentials.
However, the data show a significantly larger portion of tenure-track faculty members who are 55 or older. Just 23 percent of all U.S. workers are 55 or older, compared to 37 percent of faculty members.
Women and members of underrepresented minority groups also tend to comprise relatively small shares of the older, tenure-track professoriate.
For example, the report said women are 45 percent of all tenure-track faculty members who are 55 or younger, but just 35 percent of those over 55. And racial or ethnic minority group members comprise 26 percent of tenure-track faculty members who are 55 or younger and just 16 percent of those who are older than 55.
"This appears to be due primarily to lack of promotion," CUPA-HR said. "With each increase in rank, from assistant to full professor, there is a decrease in the percentage of minorities."