The Princeton Rub; Or, How Many Tiger Mothers Does It Take To Eradicate Sexism?

February 17, 2011, 9:59 pm

Untenured faculty are always wanting to know what that little extra edge is that will get them tenure.  Be a man and ignore your students, that’s my advice.  According to the Daily Princetonian, President Shirley Tilghman suggested back in 2003 that if baby Tigers did not focus so much on teaching they would have a better chance of getting tenure.  According to attorney R. William Potter (no relation to the Radical),

In December 2003, Tilghman advised junior faculty not to focus so much on teaching undergraduates; if they want to obtain the holy grail of tenure they should concentrate on scholarly research, she told them, as their “first and foremost” priority. “Their ability to conduct research and demonstrate excellence in scholarship is the most important thing we look at,” she said, although she added that teaching ability is also “considered very seriously.”

I can’t find the origins of the Tilghman quote about tenure cited in the article, but if you go here you get to an article that cites Tilghman’s position in 1996 that tenure is a sexist institution and ought to be abolished. Now that’s what I call interesting.  But like all successful people, she now says that isn’t really what she meant.  She was just trying to be provocative, she explained in 2001, recanting this position after she took office as President.

Is tenure a sexist institution at Princeton?  Maybe not, but hiring is. A 2005 study concluded, surprisingly, that a larger percentage of Tiger women than Tiger men are actually awarded tenure. But that said, only 27% of the Princeton faculty is female, so in real numbers many more men are tenured every year than women.  And shockingly, “Once promoted…women are twice as likely as male senior professors to leave the University — 2.8 percent per year versus 1.4 percent. The report gave no explanation for this phenomenon.” 

Puzzling, isn’t it.  Readers, can you help Princeton?

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