Historian Pieter M. Judson '78 Wins Prestigious Austrian Book Award

Maki Somosot '12

Historian Pieter M. Judson '78 Wins
Prestigious Austrian Book Award

by Maki Somosot '12
2/12/2010

An article recently published in Inside Higher Education explains that academic institutions with female presidents are more likely to show an equal distribution of males and females in administration and faculty staff. The study, which was conducted by Cornell researchers for the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, explored the significance of rising numbers of female administrators and authority figures within the academe as well as its greater impact on the hiring process. A Swarthmore student, Thomas Eisenberg '11, was involved in the research, helping determine the gender of the top administrators at 593 academic institutions across the U.S.

The results showed that, in general, institutions with female presidents, provosts and/or trustees would feature a larger population of female faculty than other institutions did. By association, the study also concluded that women in higher-ranking bureaucratic positions were more inclined to influence faculty hiring decisions directly. In particular, the study cited evidence showing that female Ph.D.s would be more likely to apply for positions in the academe, depending on their knowledge of the gender of the chair heading a faculty search committee. "This...signals something to potential female applicants about the seriousness of the department in wanting to expand female faculty employment and in providing leadership opportunities for female colleagues," the study says.

There was evidence that female administrators tend to contribute a much larger impact in a smaller-school settings. "This is especially relevant for Swarthmore right now, considering all of our administrative changes and the fact that we found a stronger effect at smaller institutions," Eisenberg said.

Eisenberg is a double Economics and Math major at Swarthmore. He was asked to work on the project by Ronald G. Ehrenberg, director of the Cornell Higher Research Institution. The other researchers and collaborators involved were George H. Jakubson, associate professor of labor economics at Cornell; Mirinda L. Martin, a doctoral student in economics at Cornell; and Joyce B. Main, a doctoral student in education at Cornell.