Biological clocks and tenure timetables: Restructuring the academic timeline

Carol B. de Wet, Gail M. Ashley, Daniel P. Kegel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Despite decades of progressive social change by an active womens's movement, federal and state legislation, and adoption of academic affirmative action policies, women geoscientists have not reached a critical mass in higher education. Women comprise only 12.5% of geoscience faculty in U.S. colleges and universities and only 10% at Ph.D. granting institutions. Senior women faculty tend to be marginalized from the academic power structure. A combination of biological factors, lifestyles choices, dual career pressures, double standards for social and professional interactions, and gender-based discrimination creates an effective filter, reducing women in geoscience departments to a surprisingly low level. There are two rungs on the ladder where women proportionally leave the discipline at a higher rate than men, One is continuing on to obtain a Ph.D.; the other is prior to, or at tenure. The present time frame for achieving tenure and promotion was established by men, for men, decades ago. Such a time frame is incompatible with women's biologic reproductive constraints, and as such, puts an unequal level of pressure and stress on women relative to their male professional counterparts. Only a significant change in the culture of science, and its traditional pathways, will create a geoscience community that has a sound base of gender equity. Strong leadership from innovative and far-sighted administrators and colleagues is required to introduce and foster institutional change that will reduce the conditions that leave women disadvantaged.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24
Number of pages1
JournalGSA Today
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology

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