Thursday, December 16, 2010

Faculty Perceptions of the Tenure Process

Katherine Barnes and Elizabeth Mertz have a new paper up on SSRN, Is It Fair: Law Professors' Perceptions of Tenure.  The authors surveyed about 500 law professors on the question of whether they viewed their tenure process as fair, easy, and rewarding. It's an interesting study that indicates that faculty have a pretty high confidence in the process, overall.  Still, there are notable distinctions between demographic groups. 

No shock, white men seem most positive overall.  Men who are members of minority groups feel a bit less positive.  And women, and particularly women of color, have notably mixed responses.  Consider this one snapshot: on the question of whether they found their own tenure process fair, 12% of white men, 15% of minority men, 24% of white women, and 35% of minority women said no.  The authors found similar results on the questions of whether the tenure process had been easy or rewarding.

I suspect that this study will be the subject of discussion and debate for some time to come.

Update: I erroneously stated that the authors surveyed about 500 professors.  The number was actually 1221.

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