Not Even Close: Faculty Gender Balance at the BYUs

Last week I had a conversation with a friend whose son had recently started at BYU-I and had yet to encounter a female professor. After 25 years in higher education, mainly in “the world,” I was a bit surprised. But then I remembered my own experience at BYU back in the 1980s: in four years of undergraduate study (as an English major no less), I had exactly one female professor. To my discredit, I had never before bothered to count.

This made me wonder whether or not my experience, and my friends’ son’s, was typical at Church schools. As a senior academic administrator, I worry quite a bit about gender disparities in our faculty, and I spend significant time and attention trying to make sure that we close the gender gap. For reasons that I will explain at the end of this post, I consider this essential to the core values of higher education, Does my alma mater think the same way? How do the ratios of male and female faculty members at the three Church universities compare to their peers? Inquiring minds want to know.

Fortunately, these are not the sorts of questions that one has to wonder about for very long. The Department of Education maintains a massive database of information on every institution of higher education in the country: every beauty school, barber’s college, culinary institute, college, and university has to report just about anything about themselves that they can quantify to the Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System, known throughout the industry as IPEDS (“eye-peds”).

The IPEDS data set is very rich and very easy to access. It lets you take any of the variables in the database and develop comparisons among any number of other schools in the United Sates. All you need to do is construct a comparison group, select a few variables, and hit go. For example, this is how the three BYU’s compare in faculty gender balance to the schools of the Big Twelve—an athletic affinity group that the main campus in Provo seems interested in joining (and which, I learned when compiling this table, does not even have twelve schools, since math is apparently not one of their sports)*:



This doesn’t look good for the BYUs. But let’s be fair: BYU is a religious school with a religious mission. Most Big Twelve schools are large publics. And neither BYU-H nor BYU-I have much of anything to do with huge schools like the University of Texas. This is not the best comparison group.

So let’s try this one: a peer group made up of religious colleges and universities of various sizes, but all part of generally conservative religious traditions. Some of these are large national universities, others are regional colleges, and others are small liberal arts institutions. They vary widely in rankings and prestige. Only their religious missions—which are as close as I can find in the world of higher education to the mission of the BYUs—unites them:


The average number of female faculty members is a little bit lower in these groups, but the BYUs are still outliers, and not by a little bit. They are basically their own category of gender imbalance. In fact, if you take the entire list of 3261 institutions of higher education in the United States with 15 or more faculty members, and rank them according to the percentage of their faculty positions held by women, you have to get to the bottom 100 schools to see any of the three LDS universities, which score 3168, 3203, and 3221.

So, what accounts for these dismal rankings? It is certainly no accident that all three schools are run by a religious organization with a strong focus on families and traditional gender roles. In fact, in August of 1997, the main campus in Provo applied for and received an exemption to Title IX employment directives allowing them to ask job applicants questions that had been ruled illegal for other institutions. These questions all had to do with the applicants’ acceptance of LDS doctrine, including “the significant emphasis on the importance of family and the differing roles of men and women within family.” Certainly this explains why LDS universities don’t encourage women to work outside the home. Doesn’t it?

Well, actually, it doesn’t. Let’s look at one more table to see why. This table includes five kinds of employees other than full-time faculty: non-tenurable instructors and lecturers, part-time (adjunct) faculty, service staff, and administrative support—all positions with less pay, and less prestige, than full-time faculty members:


Let’s break this down a little bit.** BYU is very much in line with other schools on the percentage of support staff that is female, even though these jobs are much less family-friendly than full-time faculty positions, which have highly flexible schedules and summers off. BYU-P is second from the top in this peer group in the percentage of full-time, non-tenurable faculty positions held by women—positions that do all of the work that full-time faculty members do but with lower pay, less institutional prestige, and less flexibility. And both BYU-P and BYU-I are close to the top in the percentage of non-tenured, non-permanent, abysmally paid adjunct professors who are women.

These data show that the Church’s universities do not object to women working full-time, teaching classes, or being away from their families—as long as they do not have high-paying, high-status positions on the faculty. And this is a problem.

Actually, it is a whole bunch of problems rolled into one. One of these problems has to do with quality: women account for about 52% of Ph.D.s earned in the United States. This means that slightly more than half of the total candidate pool for academic jobs—and easily half of the best candidates for any positions—will be female. Therefore, hiring practices that favor male candidates will often not hire the best candidates.

But the biggest problems with the aggressively unbalanced hiring practices suggested by this data has to do with the spiritual environment that it creates for our children.

It tells our daughters that their educational potential is limited. When they go through two, three, or four years of college without ever being taught by other women, they internalize a belief that men are smarter and more capable than they are—and that they do not have the natural ability or cultural support to achieve their highest educational and intellectual aspirations.

This is unconscionable.

But it tells our sons something even worse. When we give them an environment in which virtually all of the people with low status and little institutional power are women, while all of the people with high status and great institutional power are men, we are showing them that there is no reason that they need to take women seriously. They need only see men as experts or as people with authority. We are therefore playing into an entitlement that young men often already feel. We are telling them that women exist to serve their needs.

And this is deplorable.

* Data is from 2013. The full IPEDS report is only required every other year, and the 2015 reports have not been posted yet, so 2013 is the most recent year for which the full data set can be accessed.

**Because this table covers so many categories, I am only displaying percentages, not raw numbers. But here is a link to the entire data set used for all of the tables in this post, should anybody want to do their own tinkering.


  1. Thank you so much for this, Michael. I was disappointed, then disturbed, then infuriated the further I got into this article. So sad.

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    I think that, like you, Michael, I only had one female professor during my time at BYU-P (76-77 and 80-82). She taught a large section of a basic math class, so I have no idea whether she had continuing faculty status (BYU’s version of tenure). And also like you, I don’t believe I had ever stopped to even think about the implications of women being almost non-existent among my professsorial mentors. Thanks for laying out the disparity so clearly.

  3. A Happy Hubby says:

    When I was young I used to look at BYU as good as it gets. Not only did you get to be around good people (still think that is true), but that they had one of the best university leadership groups around. Now I hear people not placing the Y on their resume’s as they feel it hurts them. I sure hope they get on the ball. I hate to see my sons and daughters degrees become less and less respected.

  4. I think I only had one female professor with continuing status, and she was in the college of education. There were none in my major. In other news, my early career was marked by deep discomfort with my own authority and my relationship to those in authority. It took me about 7-8 years to really get over it. I had never really made that connection before. I really appreciate you pulling this material together.

  5. Outrageous. While I wouldn’t approve, I could at least acknowledge some consistency if the gender imbalance also applied to support and non-tenured positions. But there’s not really a positive way to spin this. The term “chicken patriarchy” comes to mind–it’s like we simultaneously want to embrace authoritarian patriarchy but also have the semblance of fairness and equality.

  6. I just wanted to add my experience as a current graduate student in the business school at the University of Utah. This is not a church run school, but it operates in a similar culture as BYU – P since a majority of the students and faculty (at least in the business school) are LDS. This semester I have 8 classes taught by 6 professors, 3 of whom are women. Next semester I will have 7 classes taught by 2 professors, 1 of whom is a woman. Perfect 50/50 split. All of these professors are full-time tenured professors. As for some of the lower paying positions, the program I am in has 2 educational counselors -1 male, 1 female. There are also 2 career coaches – 1 male, 1 female. The head of the program is female. In my particular emphasis (which is not a “soft” business emphasis), the student body is 52% female.
    Take from this information what you will. I just wanted to add what I see as a University that is faced with similar cultural barriers, but that makes a concerted effort to recruit, retain, and promote women just as much as men. While no one has made this argument (yet), this cannot be blamed on Utah culture. It is a reflection of the attitudes of decision makers at BYU.

  7. I remember when I was in graduate school at BYU in 1998, I either heard or read President Bateman’s address at the University Conference. He stated that retired professors “and their wives” would be called on missions to help young adults in other countries to complete their education. “And their wives.” It made my ears burn. It was probably just a thoughtless mistake, but the fact that such a mistake is made says something about the speaker’s frame of reference.

  8. “We decided that our goal would be a family-friendly environment for both women and men. Let us be at the forefront in protecting time for family.”

    Elder Cook said this three years ago. I know things take time but has anything been done at any of the places of church employment?

  9. ” But it tells our sons something even worse. When we give them an environment in which virtually all of the people with low status and little institutional power are women, while all of the people with high status and great institutional power are men, we are showing them that there is no reason that they need to take women seriously. They need only see men as experts or as people with authority. We are therefore playing into an entitlement that young men often already feel. We are telling them that women exist to serve their needs.”

    This paragraph seems overwrought. Perhaps I suffer from a lack of imagination, but I can’t understand how any semi- conscious man is going to take that message away from his time at BYU. It also seems to misunderstand power. For example, the program I attended at BYU was led by a male. But his assistant was a woman. It didn’t take anyone very long to figure out that if you wanted to get anything done or get an idea approved, that you needed her support and buy-in. In my personal experience, women in these types of “support” positions often wield considerable power even if it it doesn’t show up on an org chart.

  10. RILLdisappointed says:

    While taking a French literature course at BYUI, I came across a rare bit of magic. My professor was a lady! She confided in me that she made less than her friend, who taught English at the local high school. At first I didn’t want to believe her, then I started to worry that she was flirting with the poverty line. Quelle est cette connerie?

  11. John Mansfield says:

    Looking at those numbers in the last table:

    For the middle column of instructors and lecturers, 18 women and 8 men made up that data, compared to the 253 women and 983 men in the first table of professors (assistant, associate, or full). The part-time instructional staff in the right-hand column was made of 303 women and 194 men. I’m not clear where the 67.82% for support staff in the left-hand column is coming from. The numbers for full-time non-instructional staff in the report were 1,016 women and 1,805 men, and for part-time non-instructional staff there were 464 women and 199 men. That made the full-time, part-time, and combined support staff 36.02%, 69.98%, and 42.48% female. There is something I’ve missed regarding the support staff enumeration.

  12. John Mansfield says:

    My comment above is referring only to the BYU-Provo data.

  13. I was full-time faculty at BYU-Provo (in a slot that was supposed to be for a tenure-track professor— which I wasn’t as a mere MA — so it came with all the perks). The good news is that I always felt respected both by my colleagues and my students. I wasn’t aware until reading this how extreme the faculty gender gap was on campus!

    A pleasant anecdote: when I had my ecclesiastical interview with a GA, I was only 24 and still single. He asked me no questions about my belief in traditional gender roles, but at one point I told him that someday I hoped to be a mother. He urged me not to make assumptions that I should stay home with my children when that happens. He said the world needs educated and skilled women of faith. He said my field needs me.

  14. I have a few issues with some of your points. First, prior to tenure, I wouldn’t really consider tenure track faculty positions as more flexible than the staff positions. Sure, your actual schedule may be a bit more flexible but the pressure is a lot higher, especially in the sciences. In other words, you’re going to be working a lot more hours in a tenure track position than in a staff position. It’s hardly family friendly although it does seem to be improving at some places (e.g. delaying the tenure decision for those that have kids).

    Second, I think BYU has been a bit behind the curve (in a good way) in terms of adjunct faculty. Nationally, the adjunct position has grown into a position for exploiting those trying to get into a tenure track position. At least in the sciences and engineering, in my experience the people that are hired at BYU-P (my experience with the other BYUs is very limited) as adjuncts have been people who aren’t very interested in tenure track positions; e.g. people who only want to work part time (and thus have even greater flexibility for family) or people who work primarily in industry but have a side interest in teaching or people who only have an interest in teaching and not research. So I think at BYU, the large percentage of women in adjunct positions can at least somewhat be explained by those who are only interested in working part time and value the flexibility that comes with it. Also, at least some of these adjunct positions have gone to people who only have MS degrees and not PhDs. Unfortunately, I am seeing some evidence that BYU may be shifting towards the national trend of hiring adjuncts to replace tenure-track (at least in one department I’m familiar with).

    I also know that, again in the sciences, the departments are quite aware of the disparity. But for some of these departments, even finding a woman with a relevant PhD who wants a tenure-track position at BYU is not trivial. I’d be extremely surprised if the percentage of LDS members who obtain PhDs that are women is at all close to the national rate of 52%, especially within the sciences. So I don’t think the hiring practices of BYU are the real, or at least primary, barrier here. For some fields, it is a struggle to even find any women working on an undergraduate degree.

  15. John, I combined support staff with administrative assistants to derive that number. AAs are overwhelmingly female. I did not include the part-time staff, so the number is full-time support staff + administrative assistants. I initially put all of the numbers and percentages for all for all five categories (adjunct, lecturer, instructor, service support, administrative support), but that made the table too hard to read.

  16. I studied computer science at BYU from 80-85. I also had a range of non-technical classes too, outside of general education requirements. The entire time I was there, none of my instructors were female. In my late teens and early 20s, I didn’t even notice until I went elsewhere for graduate school and had female professors. I hope that the current generation of young adults will recognize that half the voices are missing in their education.

  17. Now comes the part where University Spokeswoman Carrie Jenkins comes out and explains the lack of female faculty because there is “no demand for it”.

  18. This is infuriating stuff, Michael.

    As a former college administrator who went back to the ranks of tenured faculty when our daughter was born, I can attest to everything Michael says about the privileges I enjoy as a fulltime tenured professor. It is one of the most family-friendly jobs a woman can have. And it is the primary reason I gave up the administrator’s position. Of course, I also work at a community college, where for various reasons (some of which aren’t very pretty), there tend to be more female faculty anyway.

    My old department at BYU-P expressed a passing interest in having me apply when I finished my Ph.D. A closer look at salary, benefits ( including family leave…which until the early 2000s was completely unpaid) plus my concerns about my ability to keep certain opinions to myself, convinced us that we were better off with the job at the community college I had landed (and still have) while I was in grad school.

    Not only does BYU need to hire more female tenure-track professors, but they need to do a better job of making the job a viable option for faithful, critically-thinking, highly-educated, family-oriented women.

    I’m qualified to teach at the BYUs tenure track, but I’m very glad I don’t. This is another problem.

  19. Michael: I don’t mean to minimize what is clearly a problem. There are three things I do want to point out, however.

    First, you write that 52% of Ph.D.s nationally go to women. But the hiring pool for the BYU campuses is not the national pool of Ph.D.s, but LDS Ph.D.s (at BYU for all practical purposes, at BYU-I and, I assume, BYU-H, by institutional rules). How does recent hiring at BYU campuses compare to the LDS pool of Ph.D.s? That’s a harder question to answer, but it’s the relevant question here.

    Second, another obstacle can at times be convincing women to accept positions at BYU that are offered to them. I know of two cases where a position was first offered to a female candidate who then turned down the offer. Ultimately a man was hired to fill the position. I don’t know the reasoning of the two female candidates, but wariness about being the first woman in an all-male department is a problem reported in many places.

    Finally, I think your idea of which positions are family-friendly and which are not is pretty much backwards. Part-time adjunct teaching is easier to fit into a busy family schedule (as I know from personal experience) even if they pay is abysmal, and even an 8-5 staff position would be easier, than an all-consuming tenure-track position that demands many hours beyond 40 each week in the search for tenure.

  20. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    ABM – I think you fundamentally misunderstand power. Power isn’t about being a gatekeeper, or about being the person who performs important tasks that require resourcefulness or certain authorizing responsibilities. I can’t get into the building I work in until the custodian unlocks the doors in the morning. That person has the ability to actually prevent me from doing my work. However, while that may make me feel powerless, not even he would assert that he holds any real power in the corporation. Real power is about status, prestige, or influence. As an assistant, the woman you reference had none of those things. She was surely beholden to your program director with reference to her working conditions, her salary (wages), her working hours, and her daily responsibilities and obligations. He had the real power. She was a gatekeeper. Those are very different (though, as a student, gatekeepers can be very real obstacles).

    Unfortunately, men at the BYUs, and in the Church, are led to misunderstand power. We are continuously fed stories of glories women who perform invaluable work at home or in the Ward, and that we just couldn’t function without their service and dedication. We talk about how essential women are in the Church, but reserve the status, prestige, and real influence for men. Perpetuating this misunderstanding of power allows the imbalance to persist.

  21. There’s one flaw with this article. They use a statistic of 52% PhDs earned by females from the general US population as a standard applied to BYU’s shortage. What percent of PhDs granted to the LDS population are female? I personally have seen departments from BYU clamoring for qualified LDS women to fill positions and continually come up short. Recently, a department had to create faculty positions that were “teaching only” in order to get females to apply. It seems that qualified LDS women are few and far between. Two women recently hired at a BYU department had waited until their kids were out of the home to go back to school to get their PhDs and they were quickly hired on at BYU upon completion. I am one of them. If more women did this, perhaps the disparity would be lessened, but then there would likely be an article about how women are paid less without taking into account the female faculty’s late start.

  22. Kevin,

    I’m a PhD working in the School of the Sciences at a MD university. We have a full-time faculty that is 70% female. I don’t think it’s a question of there being a lack of qualified applicants in the sciences that leads to the abysmal representation–though there may be a lack of qualified Mormon female applicants.

    Incidentally, when I was an engineering student at BYU, I did not have a single female professor.

  23. There are a few comments defending BYU by saying that there aren’t very many LDS females with PhDs. I don’t really see this as a defense of BYU, but as another symptom of the larger problem. Why isn’t BYU producing more female PhDs?

  24. “Where God is male…male is God”

  25. From recent conversations in a few departments at BYU, they are desperate to hire female PhDs. That’s the current attitude.

  26. So Kerry, it’s hard to see from your comment whether you are disappointed, disturbed, infuriated, ashamed and outraged at the woeful gender imbalance at your school like many of the commenters here are about the BYUs, or are you proud? I’m just trying to understand whether having a large gender gap in a university faculty is always terrible or only terrible when it is men.

  27. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    It may well be the case that BYU is desperate to hire female PhDs (hopefully, with continuing faculty status). This is nice, but the inability to attract, successfully recruit, and hire more women for these positions is also an indictment. Maybe BYU doesn’t want more female PhDs, or maybe female PhDs (women with a PhD, to be precise) don’t want BYU. I can’t decide which of these is worse. However, either way, the problem lies with BYU.

  28. ABM

    It isn’t overwrought at all to say that this is the message taken away by far too many at BYU consciously or subconsciously. As an academic that has many friends that are professors at the Y I can point to direct, tangible outcomes and repercussions that students and the school suffer exactly because of this. Here is one example. One of BYUs flagship schools and programs has had mulitple big name employers that independently came back to the head of the program and said essentially this:

    “We love how well your students are trained. However, we have HUGE problems with the male students we hire who have consistent trouble having female managers. They talk over their managers (as new grads!) and number of other related behaviors where they are treating them with disrespect. Your school has a reputation among our managers for having men that are unmentorable by them and cause problems. I am here to tell you that if you can not fix this our firm *will not be able to return to campus and hire your students*.” True story and the school had to create specific training for its male students about how to interact with women in power and they still get complaints from employers along this line. And this didn’t happen in the 80s or 90s. Its an ongoing issue.

    I can point to the related examples in STEM programs.

    I also know a whole bunch of LDS women with PhDs and the number of them not willing to submit themselves the cultural environment of the Y where their male students treat them with less respect, rate them lower (not only a Y problem but exacerbated there), administration roulette and backward senior faculty is significant. You should listen to their stories. You should listen to what some male students say to them and how they get often treated, subtly and not so subtly. We want to pretend its just one clueless student here or an isolated incident there. But its not. None of this is overwrought.

    I know many good people trying to fix this, men and women. Things are getting better but they can only get so much better when the structural realities Michael has just laid out are there. Structure matters. Representation matters. There is a huge literature in sociology and psychology that shows the persistence effect of this on individual behavior. Take the well-publicized study done in part by BYU researchers that show the number of women in a meeting has a dramatic effect on their likelihood to speak up as an example. This is one study in an entire field of study that shows structure and representation matter.

    Women aren’t only outnumbered there they are systematically in lower positions of authority. It matters. It matters. It matters. It matters.

  29. Thanks for this, Mike.

    Ben T and Lomin, you bring up a significant issue: the percentage of Mormon female Ph.D.s may well differ from the national average. Which makes it hard(er) for BYU to find women to teach as long as it insists on hiring almost solely Mormons.

    The thing is, though, that’s a self-imposed constraint. There’s no objective reason that only Mormons can teach at BYU (and, in fact, I know of a small number of excellent professors—male and female—who teach at BYU, and even advance its particular mission, without being Mormon). I mean, I teach at a Jesuit university without being Catholic; I know what the school’s mission is, I support and teach to that mission.

    It’s not a strong argument to say, Hey, BYU can’t hire women because its self-created hiring rules filter out a significant percentage of women!!1! Moreover, if it had a decent percentage of women as faculty, maybe that would model university teaching as a potential career for some women at BYU who are on the fence, leading them to pursue Ph.D.s, and, in a couple academic generations, maybe BYU could even hire a relatively gender-balanced faculty made up principally of Mormons (if that’s what it wants to do).

  30. That’s horrible about the gender gap. During my four years at BYU-I, I had only five female teachers, and the rest of the teachers were male. I really hope church members start embracing the fact that women want to work and want good positions that are well-paid. I hate hearing about how it’s all about the husband’s education, and not the wife’s. The wife’s education is equally important.

  31. Michael, I appreciate you raising this issue, I didn’t realize how unbalanced things really were. But I think there’s a lot more to this story that needs to be examined.

    For one, what’s BYU stance on spousal hires? My sense is that schools who can accommodate spousal hires tend to be more successful at hiring female faculty. On that note, what other career opportunities are available for spouses in the area? It’s an American cultural problem–not just an LDS problem–that the husband’s career is treated with primary, or at the very least with equal, concern as the wife’s, and if husband isn’t likely to find good work in Rexburg, ID, they’re probably not going to move there. A lot of rural colleges deal with this–most of the religious schools you listed (Catholic University, Bob Jones, Southern Methodist) are in more densely populated areas. And in regards to single female candidates, Provo and Rexburg and Laie are not exactly the most attractive places to live. This issue again applies to American singles generally, male and female, who tend to prefer more cosmopolitan locations. At our small, rural college, we offered a position to a female candidate who was single, really hoping she’d take it, and she almost did, but at the end of the day, she wanted to stay at her job in the big city.

  32. Kevin Barney says:

    Although I’m not at liberty to give details, I can confirm what rah says about problems some BYU-educated men have working well with female leadership. It’s not a reputation that is in the school’s best interests as a university.

    And I also agree with Sam’s point. The hire-only-Mormons rule is self-imposed. That didn’t used to be a hard and fast rule but more of a preference, and it used to be more common to have non-LDS faculty at the Y. My understanding is that these days departments won’t even bother sending up a non-LDS candidate, as they are routinely rejected. Such a bright line standard is unnecessary.

  33. Kerry,

    Thanks for the comment. That is quite remarkable as I understand that the gender imbalance is generally worse everywhere in the sciences than the humanities although it can differ widely from discipline to discipline. My experience has largely been in engineering, CS, math, and statistics and there is quite a bit of disparity between even these fields (e.g. it was generally easier to find women within my math classes than my engineering classes even at a large public school far away from Utah).

    By the way, to clarify, my last sentence (and that entire paragraph) in my previous post was referring to BYU. So I was referring to a lack of qualified Mormon female applicants, at least in some of the fields I’m familiar with.

    EKB: I think that is the point of many of our posts on this. The OP seems to put at least some of the blame on the hiring practice of BYU. We’re trying to shift the focus to an earlier stage (producing more female PhDs or in the case of some fields attracting females to the undergrad degree in the first place) in the process where we think it belongs.

    I do see some positive national trends though. As has been mentioned, the pre-tenure years of tenure track positions are not historically family friendly, especially for women. So it makes sense that given the emphasis in the Church on family, a lot of LDS women aren’t going to do a PhD which can take many years to complete and often during the time that is best for having children. Furthermore, in many fields a PhD is only useful for obtaining a faculty position. There has been a trend at some (top) universities to be more family friendly for pre-tenure professors. Whether it actually has an effect (official policy changes don’t always change the attitudes of those that have the real say on who gets tenure) or whether it trickles down throughout academia remains to be seen.

    ABM: I think your stories and experience demonstrate how this can be a self-perpetuating problem, especially in departments where there are currently no female faculty. I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to join such an environment, even if the entire department is very encouraging.

  34. At my time at UC Santa Barbara there were 0 women in our ward in grad school. All the grad students were men. Our culture of marrying young and gender roles (though my wife later got her masters at BYU).

  35. I lived in an academic hotspot in the late 90s. My (active Mormon) PhDs female friends who applied to work at BYU were denied slots for very questionable reasons. BYU even asked our bishop to tell a candidate that her testimony wasn’t strong enough for them to hire her–she ended up an active Mormon in a tenure-track positiob at an Ivy League school, so that ended well for her, but not for all of the BYU students she could have influenced. As a side note-I had to go to years of therapy to overcome the idea instilled in me (during my Mormon childhood) that my professional ambitions made me undesirable, unrighteous, etc. I

  36. I currently work full-time at BYU in one of those support staff positions you highlighted, and I have a few comments.

    First off, I agree that there is a lack of female faculty at the university (I don’t know about BYU-I or BYU-H, my only experience is in Provo). But I can say that it is not for lack of trying. My academic department actively mentors female undergraduate students–we don’t have a grad program so that’s all we can work with at the moment–and strives to reach out to any and all female LDS students in PhD programs across the country when we have an open faculty position. The problem is there just aren’t that many female LDS PhD students who want to work at BYU. Last year we didn’t get a single female LDS applicant for our open position despite many personal invitations to do so. We offered a position to one female applicant a couple years ago and she ultimately turned us down because her husband’s job counter-offered and they elected to stay on the East Coast. We want more female faculty, we really do. They just are hard to find.

    I think the root of the problem is that LDS culture can discourage women from pursuing PhDs, and ultimately from then using that degree to work outside the home in a full-time tenure-track decision. Until we change that culture and encourage women to pursue higher education and then seek positions at Church universities where they can help inspire younger female students, we’ll keep struggling and blaming it on the university itself.

    On a personal note: BYU does have a much better parental leave policy for faculty than they did before. They now allow an entire semester off and delay tenure-track decisions for a full year. It is very family-friendly for faculty…not so much for staff. I have had two children during my years at BYU and received no paid family leave either time. I was entitled to FMLA but I couldn’t afford to go unpaid for 12 weeks, so I used up all my sick and vacation hours and took off just 4 weeks with my first and 6 weeks with my second. I once asked the university president how I could seek a better family leave policy for staff like the faculty have, and I was told that it likely wouldn’t happen because faculty are more easily expendable–just don’t teach those class that semester, or have someone else teach them. Going with staff personnel is much harder. I see that in my department, as I’m the only staff and we have nearly 30 faculty. Nobody knows how to do what I do. It really bothers me that there is little to no recourse for a better family leave policy, but I don’t know what to do about it.

  37. carinamenina says:

    Gah – meant to say that going withOUT staff personnel is much harder. Sorry.

  38. Kevin:
    “I also know that, again in the sciences, the departments are quite aware of the disparity. But for some of these departments, even finding a woman with a relevant PhD who wants a tenure-track position at BYU is not trivial. I’d be extremely surprised if the percentage of LDS members who obtain PhDs that are women is at all close to the national rate of 52%, especially within the sciences. So I don’t think the hiring practices of BYU are the real, or at least primary, barrier here. For some fields, it is a struggle to even find any women working on an undergraduate degree.”

    You don’t see the irony staring you squarely in the eyes with your comment???? The church has produced this situation, yet you turn around and say it’s not their fault, but the lack of qualified women? Of course the percentage of women with PhDs is lower than the national average – that’s what has been preached (directly or indirectly) for decades!!!

    Absolutely infuriating. Of course I shouldn’t be surprised to see these sentiments expressed. “The Lord’s University?” Hmmm, I sincerely hope not.

  39. I just want to echo what rah said. I have had several conversations with professional colleagues, Mormon and non-Mormon, who have had the same experiences and concerns with the way that male BYU graduates treat female colleagues and supervisors. I have personally experienced it a couple of times as well. It is not isolated. It is current. It is well known in the professional world. This is a real, and very serious, reputational issue for BYU.

  40. I have a relevant anecdote from an engineering class at BYU-P in 2000.

    TEACHER*: I now need to give some instructions specifically to the men.** In the workplace, you will sometimes find yourselves in situations where you are unintentionally alone with a female co-worker. In such situations, you must find a nice way to promptly leave.
    ME: What if you’re just riding together in an elevator?
    TEACHER: Get off at the next floor and take a different elevator.
    ME: What if you’re alone on an elevator going up to floor 10, but the elevator stops at floor 5 and on steps a female co-worker?
    TEACHER: When she gets on, you get off and then take the next elevator up.
    ME: What if you’re on an elevator with two female co-workers …
    TEACHER: … That’s fine …
    ME: … but then one of them gets off at floor 5 and the other stays with you on the elevator going to floor 10? Whichever choice you make, you’re left alone with a female co-worker. ***
    TEACHER: … (crickets) …. (bell rings) … remember there will be a midterm on Friday.

    * In case of doubt, said teacher was male. All my teachers were male.
    ** I don’t recall how many women were in my class, but on average they made up around 10-15% of a class body.
    *** Since someone will ask, yes, unfortunately, after graduation I did leave engineering for law school.

  41. John Mansfield says:

    Michael Austin, I am looking at the column headings of Part B1—Full-time Non-instructional staff. The 2,821 employees are divided into 16 categories. One of the categories is Office and Administrative Support Occupations with 446 women and 60 men. I suppose this category is what you refer to as administrative assistants. Which categories were grouped as support staff, and what are the remaining non-instructional staff if they are not support?

  42. The comments to this post are a perfect example of why constructive conversations about gender equality are so extremely difficult.

    Michael presents the facts that the LDS Church states that women should be at home with their families instead of in the workplace, but the LDS Church violates this principle by hiring women – primarily as support staff.

    And then people chime in with their opinion about how this isn’t necessarily a bad thing (i.e., equal doesn’t mean “equal” and presiding doesn’t mean “presiding”) and we end up arguing around the margins instead of addressing the real issue, which is that the LDS Church as an institution categorizes women as the “help” and provides very effective policies and incentives for faithful LDS women to aspire to be in supporting roles in their personal lives – and to their bosses in the workforce.

    One of my friends who is a faithful LDS man frequently laments the difficultly of finding and retaining good paralegals and secretaries, since now all the “smart” women are going to law school and becoming lawyers instead of happily making copies and scheduling meetings.

  43. BYUI’s current president is deeply misogynistic, though he’s merely the despicable tip of a damaging cultural iceberg at the school. I know for a fact that one of the departments recently went through a rigorous hiring process for a full time faculty position and unanimously decided on a candidate who was eminently qualified, an amazing teacher, and active LDS. The candidate was also a woman. When the department sent a request to the administration to approve the hire, the president met with her. Word came back: NOT approved. He gave no explanation. She met every possible criteria and had the full support of the department and college. But he said no. Because BYUI is a misogynistic institution led by an intellectual mite who fears intelligent and self-assured women.

  44. During the 1980’s BYU-P began a period of hiring more non-LDS professors in tenure-track positions. There was never an enormous number of non-LDS professors, but the effort toward relative openness was real. It made a difference. Then came the controversies of the early and mid-90’s, when several professors were fired in ugly public disputes over the content of their writing and their teaching. Church and university leaders believed that the fired professors were too critical of Mormon doctrines or of the institutional church.

    The university took heavy criticism from the academic community. Accrediting organizations investigated BYU for possible violations of academic freedom. BYU fought its critics aggressively and came out with its accreditations intact, but its reputation was damaged. The university responded to this episode with a long-term change in course. It ended the effort to diversify its faculty along religious lines. The Department of Education exemption that Michael refers to in the OP dates from this decision to retrench.

    BYU does have severe self-imposed restrictions on hiring faculty, and it’s not just that the school wants LDS faculty members. LDS professors also have to be “safe” professors—ones who will not rock the boat. This policy has deep knock-on effects, including long-term damage to the school’s reputation. People in the academic community know what BYU is looking for, and they know that this policy restricts the possibilities for open inquiry throughout the university.

    I strongly suspect that one of these knock-on effects is that it becomes more difficult to hire women in tenure-track positions. It will always be very hard for BYU to correct its gender imbalance as long its highest priority is to hire “safe” professors. That’s not because women are “unsafe,” but because (1) the hiring pool for both men and women is so severely restricted by these policies, and (2) the school’s institutional resources are spent primarily on protecting the policy of “safe” hiring rather than finding ways to diversify the faculty.

  45. I never attended BYU but have a BYU-P graduate daughter who later earned her Ph.d at the University of Utah. One of her major complaints was/is the lack of LDS female role models in higher education; it’s hard for girls (or boys) to be something they can’t see. While she doesn’t teach at a church school she is working with BYU-P to help counter the imbalance. One of the other contributing problems is that, while Utah has a high percentage of girls starting college, the graduation rate of those who start is abysmal.

  46. I worked at BYU for a number of years. While it is true that the numbers are imbalanced, it is not because BYU does not want female faculty. A great deal of time was invested in faculty searches specifically becauseBYU would go to great lengths to find female faculty members. Staff and adjunct roles don’t require PhDs. Just because 52% of women have PhDs doesn’t mean all of those women want to be faculty. Many get PhDs to be staff (VPs, Provosts etc).

  47. “First off, I agree that there is a lack of female faculty at the university (I don’t know about BYU-I or BYU-H, my only experience is in Provo). But I can say that it is not for lack of trying”

    Depends on what you mean by “trying”, I guess. If you mean, putting up lots of ads and offering positions, yes, there’s lots of trying. Perhaps that’s not a good definition of trying?

  48. When we give them an environment in which virtually all of the people with low status and little institutional power are women, while all of the people with high status and great institutional power are men, we are showing them that there is no reason that they need to take women seriously. They need only see men as experts or as people with authority.

    I worked for a couple of years recently on a project at the Church History Library, one of an endless parade of contributors who came in for a short time, made their contributions, and then were shown the revolving door. At one point the powers-that-were called in a man from BYU’s religion department to make a contribution. The CHL man-in-charge explained what we were doing and what, in general, we needed from Bro. BYU. All was well. Bro. BYU was enthusiastic and cheerful and willing to do anything asked. Then Bro. CHL asked me to make the specific assignments — we need 6 pages on this, 4 pages on that, and 3 pages on this other thing.

    Instantly the atmosphere changed. Bro. BYU became hyperactive, frustrated, and combative. His voice went up half an octave, and his speaking sped up. He opposed everything I said — instead of this, we should do that, on every last detail. Rather than argue, I gave him the printed list of what we needed, and the meeting ended. The change in Bro. BYU’s attitude and behavior was so dramatic and bewildering that Bro. CHL commented on it when we ran into each other later in the day.

    I agreed that the change had been astounding — but it wasn’t surprising to me at all, in hindsight: Everything in Bro. BYU’s experience — his maleness, his church callings, and especially his position in the BYU religion department, told him that he should be giving direction to me, not the other way around. He simply couldn’t handle it. It’s to Bro. CHL’s credit, on some level, that he found the behavior inexplicable.

    And the saddest part was, I’ll bet Bro. BYU couldn’t have diagnosed his own sudden frustration, and wouldn’t have believed it if anyone (especially me) had explained it to him.

  49. Folks who argue that the BYU wants female faculty are missing the point; the market for PhDs is terrible. It is tremendously hard to get a tenure-track position for anybody, male or female. And most Mormon female PhDs are known to the relevant departments and actively recruited. But the culture at BYU and the culture in the Valley are so repulsive that these women cannot bring themselves to apply for or accept positions there. BYU’s problem isn’t that it is bad at mentoring female grad students (although it is probably bad at that as well); its problem is that very few women smart and dedicated enough to get a PhD want to return to a situation where they will be treated so poorly. And many of these women will have been adjuncts, so they will have already been treated pretty badly in academia.

  50. Michael, I absolutely agree that this is a problem, but I think your analysis misses a couple of pieces of data. First, as others have mentioned above, there is no way that 52% of LDS PhDs are going to women. (To be sure, that probably just indicates a larger problem within LDS culture, but it’s a problem that BYU search committees can’t solve on their own, even if they have the best of intentions.)

    The other piece of data is that BYU faculty stay in their jobs for much longer than faculty at other universities. If I remember correctly from data that has been shared in faculty meetings, the non-BYU average is around 11 years, while the BYU average is closer to 25. (Basically, most faculty at BYU have landed where they want to be, for various reasons, while many faculty members at other universities are using their current job to position themselves for a better one.)

    The upshot is that even if search committees wanted to hire exclusively female faculty members until the numbers reached parity, (1) they wouldn’t be able to find enough female LDS PhDs and (2) they’d have to wait over twice as long for a given faculty position to open up. (And yes, I realize that BYU could theoretically ease up on hiring LDS faculty members; I’m just pointing out the constraints faced by search committees under current conditions.)

    I’d be interested to see a similar analysis of assistant professors, to see if the numbers are any better for recent hires. (Although, it could be that female assistant professors are disproportionately denied CFS, so perhaps it would be good to look at the last six years of associate professors, as well.)

  51. good observation from CLA: “I think the root of the problem is that LDS culture can discourage women from pursuing PhDs, and ultimately from then using that degree to work outside the home in a full-time tenure-track decision. Until we change that culture and encourage women to pursue higher education and then seek positions at Church universities where they can help inspire younger female students, we’ll keep struggling and blaming it on the university itself.”

    I have a number of friends who are LDS women with PhDs who applied to teach at BYU. The departments wanted them — very badly. But in some cases an academic vice president (Brent Webb?) shot them down because in his opinion, as working LDS women, they had views that were “too feminist.” Or in other cases, the candidates became very worried as hiring authorities outside the colleges/departments, such as academic vice presidents or the assigned overseeing General Authority, asked them very inappropriate questions such as “why are you applying for this instead of your husband” or other such questions in line with the cultural attitude CLA raised of discouraging women from seeking careers and being working moms instead of being stay-at-home mothers. In the case of the women I know who experienced that, although their departments wanted them, ultimately they were not offered the job (much to their relief after being asked such questions *by a General Authority*).

    Finally, on the culture point, I frequently hear from BYU professor friends that an internal culture exists at the University, pressed on the faculty by these administrators, that professors should take steps not to make careers seem “more attractive” to women than motherhood (seemingly oblivious to the fact that careers and motherhood *are not mutually exclusive* — that it is very possible to be a mother who also has a career and that this is not bad for the children if the parenting is partnered and conscientious and that recent studies have even shown benefits to children in two-parent families whose mothers work outside the home). Kim Clark’s name has come up a number of times as one who wants faculty to avoid developing for female students the idea that a career outside the home is important and can be done without giving up the role of motherhood.

  52. Karen H’s comment rings absolutely true for me – “I think I only had one female professor with continuing status…. my early career was marked by deep discomfort with my own authority and my relationship to those in authority.”

    I have just recently realized how handicapping my relationship with men has been in my work as a psychologist – I am more wary with my male clients, more distant, and I assume fewer commonalities. Our sex/gender differences make more of an obstacle to get over in developing the therapeutic relationship. I deeply regret it, and attribute it in large part to the lack of women role models and the power differential between men and women in my BYU graduate training (and church life up to that time).

  53. In one case of BYU trying to fix the problem by hiring more female faculty, the bad vibes it puts out have dissuaded a family member of mine to steer clear and look elsewhere for a faculty position.

    She set to get her PhD and hit the job market soon, and has explained to me that all of her interactions with the BYU dept. interested in hiring her have felt a little strange. They hit constantly on the fact that she’d be a fantastic addition for her ability to mentor young female students and attract more girls to the department.

    She’s absolutely not against fostering growth for aspiring female students, but she explained to me that she would much rather teach at a school with a less anachronistic approach to gender roles and teach/research as a normal, respected female faculty member than teach as a spotlighted, “remarkable” female at BYU, where a large portion of her job description would be to try and boost the department’s image and fight the strong currents of institutional gender bias. Call her a coward, but who can blame her for not wanting to slog through such an environment?

  54. In addition to the points already made in the comments, it should be noted that this imbalance robs BYU students of an important skill they will need to succeed in the contemporary world of work.

    Many if not most graduates will find themselves in offices, graduate schools, and social contexts with women––female bosses, female peers, and eventually female subordinates. If they can’t detach themselves from the model of male authority/ female subordination that permeates BYU, and Mormon culture generally, they are at a disadvantage.

    When you look at the comparison of BYU’s stats with other institutions, you realize that virtually ALL other students will enter the adult world better prepared to navigate this issue.

  55. Brad Kuhn: At the risk of feeding a troll, here goes. Please read my two comments and the OP more carefully first before making accusations next time.

    The main point of my comments is to refute the following lines from the OP:
    “These data show that the Church’s universities do not object to women working full-time, teaching classes, or being away from their families—as long as they do not have high-paying, high-status positions on the faculty. And this is a problem.”

    “Actually, it is a whole bunch of problems rolled into one. One of these problems has to do with quality: women account for about 52% of Ph.D.s earned in the United States. This means that slightly more than half of the total candidate pool for academic jobs—and easily half of the best candidates for any positions—will be female. Therefore, hiring practices that favor male candidates will often not hire the best candidates.”

    Michael seems to be placing a lot of blame on the hiring practices of BYU specifically. My comments are an attempt to refute this, first the idea that tenure track positions are more family friendly (pre-tenure) and second that BYU objects to women being on the faculty. Clearly from my experience and others, at least some department are actively trying hard to hire women on the faculty. So yes, the barrier lies earlier in the process and clearly (as I acknowledged earlier) the Church’s teachings on family (not the Church members’ teachings which is often different) has an effect. I’m less interested in debating these specific teachings and more interested in finding ways to accommodate them. I’m guessing BYU would probably feel the same.

    Right before posting this, I saw some new comments suggesting that higher administrators at BYU have been known to interfere in some way with hiring women. In that case, I would agree then that the hiring practices of BYU are part of the problem although it doesn’t seem to be a department or college level problem (at least as far as we’ve heard).

  56. John Mansfield says:

    Katya, here are the numbers:

    Assistant professors at BYU-P are 28.7% female; associate professors, 21.8% female; full professors 9.7% female.

  57. Kevin: read before refuting. I wrote that at least one department at BYU is trying quite hard to hire female faculty. In the case of my family member, its the expectations they’re setting for her that are troublesome.

  58. liz johnson says:

    John C: “its problem is that very few women smart and dedicated enough to get a PhD want to return to a situation where they will be treated so poorly.”

    Amen, amen, amen.

  59. Dave K., that is shocking. So so shocking. You should name names. Do not keep him anonymous — why would you do that? The things he is teaching are damaging BYU students who hear them and actually take them seriously. Those teachings are crippling BYU graduates who will work their entire careers as subordinates of or coworkers to women. If the BYU student who hears such lesson credulously appropriates the lesson into his worldview (rather than dismissing it as the utterly stupid nonsense that it is, as you apparently did), that individual will most likely fail integrating into any workplace on this green earth.

  60. Katya,

    The number of applicants is internal data. Only BYU can release this. The % of Assistant and Associate professors, on the other hand, was part of the first draft of this post, which I deleted because it was already too long and I was trying to focus. Here is the data for both comparison groups (Big-12 and Religious Universities). Note that BYU-I does not use these rank distinctions, so they will not be represented:

  61. My apologies, Kevin. I failed to see that your comment was in response to the OP. Me so vain.

  62. Ardis’s story is unfortunate but expected. I don’t see much changing in the Church or at the BYUs until we get serious about equality. And I don’t mean achieving equality by changing or qualifying the definition of the word.

  63. Sorry Michael, my comments at 9:11 were referring to Michael Austin’s claims in the OP and not yours. Sorry for the confusion.

  64. John Mansfield says:

    Being an assistant professor at most schools is an unattractive job compared to the other options for someone with a PhD, but we are blessed that it appeals to some good people.

  65. John, I’m not sure I understand. At many (most?) schools, “assistant professor” is the initial rank of a tenure-track professor. After some number of years and some degree of hard work, she may be promoted to “associate professor,” then to full professor. My years as associate professor were just as pleasant as the other two ranks I’ve had.

  66. John Mansfield says:

    Sam, you didn’t want more money, a simpler web of demands, and to get away from spending your days on a college campus? Well, apparently not, and world is better for it.

  67. It was only two years ago that CES changed their policy about employing women with minor children at home as full-time paid instructors. However, there was no problem with them being full time support staff .

    “We previously had not employed women who have minor children at home, in consideration of their important role as mothers,” Webb said. “While we continue to recognize that contribution that they make in their homes, we also recognize that sometimes their personal and family circumstances require them to work.”

    The attitude that women should only desire or plan for a career as a backup plan is, unfortunately, still very prevalent. We’ve got such a long way to go.

  68. John C.,


  69. Pete, exactly. But a bigger problem is that people like Webb think that career and motherhood are mutually exclusive. One can be a perfectly good mother while pursuing a high-status career (like a tenured university professor) *at the same time*.

  70. I the key analysis to take in is that even though our teaching on gender roles and the environments we create for these women are influencing these numbers, *compared to other conservative christian universities with similar teachings on gender roles* they are all doing better at this than we are.

    I agree the argument that BYU is desperate for these female faculty to come doesn’t absolve anyone of what we’re dealing with. (“We’re trying! We’re asking! Look at this cesspool of an environment we’ve created for them to live/work with. It’s not our fault they aren’t wanting to be here.”)

    PS It is interesting to note that at BYU-Idaho there is not faculty rank. Everyone is a professor, straight up. You could be on a temporary or visiting contract, or you can be longer term with continuing faculty status; but structure is a bit different here in Rexburg.

  71. But do we know that things are really better in places with higher percentages and that those PhD women are happier? I ask this because I have a non-LDS friend who told me several times how much she admires my quest to work as a part-time professional and be home after school with my kids. She said that if she had any vision that it would have been possible to do research and present conference papers without the tenure-track, that she would actually have preferred that route. But everyone told her that she was smart enough to get her doctorate, so she went that way, and is now a department chair at a major Midwest university–but wishes that she was not, that she was home after school with her kids more days.

    Although BYU may have fewer female faculty, I get that sense that a lot of them serve in deanships and chairs. At least that is the impression that I get listening to the New BYU Speeches podcasts. Speakers are often introduced by a woman, and some of the speakers are female deans and department chairs.

    I was offered a nice university fellowship to get my PhD, but I turned it down because they did not allow part-time enrollment and my children were still very young. After much prayer and discussion, we didn’t feel that it was right for our family. But of course others will come to a different conclusion for their own path.

    I think the message is NOT to discourage women from that kind of career, but to be clear that smart women have lots of choices. When I left graduate school with a masters degree that has served me well, people tried to convince me that smart women get a PhD. A one-size-fits-all prescription can come from a variety of directions–and is ALWAYS wrong, because each of us is unique and only we are entitled to revelation for our circumstances.

    And FWIW, the last time I competed for a research coordinator job, I beat out two candidates who had PhDs.

  72. The pipeline of qualified LDS female candidates, or the lack the thereof, is absolutely part of the cultural problem that has long-term consequences for BYUs female faculty rate given its membership requirement rules. Its the same discussion and it will take a long time to fix.

    And yes to all those that say “But the Y is *trying* to hire female faculty!” What people who know are trying to tell you here is that to truly try would require departments and the entire administration to fundamentally transform the culture and processes at the school. They have decades and decades of history discriminatory behavior and cultural baggage to overcome. So little fixes like “knowing the LDS women with relevant PhD’s and inviting them” do almost nothing to solve the problem. Nothing. I recommend reading Laurie Goodstein’s NYT article about how the Harvard Business School had to completely socially re-engineer their entire system to solve the disparity between the outcomes of their women students versus men students. Now take what they had to do culturally and structurally and multiply that effort by at least 10. *That* is what BYU would have to try and get more than incremental traction on this problem for both faculty and students. Seriously. Anything else is basically window dressing, maybe well-intentioned, but window dressing. What is clear is that the administration is blinded to the magnitude of the problem and what is causing it – because *it is them*. Many of the aware younger faculty understand this challenge but they can do little to solve it because they too are at the whims of a capricious, opaque administration that is at least as worried about being a symbol of righteous orthodoxy as running an institution of higher education. And for now that righteous orthodoxy treats women’s careers as “something to do as a back-up plan”. Go read our own official institute manuals, IN USE, today about women and work. Go and see what is the official content of BYUs own classes on these subjects etc.

    If I were an LDS women academic with the options a good record provide I would either have to decide my life’s mission was to sacrifice my career on the altar of slow-moving LDS cultural progress or the school would have to pay at least 50% more than my next best offer and that is if I could get employed in a department that was favorably disposed toward women socially which so many are not.

  73. A year or so ago the chairs and deans at BYU(-Utah) were reprimanded by a GA in the RS presidency (in her capacity as member of the Board of Trustees) for hiring too many women into faculty positions, thereby taking jobs away from breadwinners. Most chairs were reportedly horrified. Which I think pretty much sums up the problem of administration at the BYUs when it comes to hiring practices.

  74. Thanks, John. So, the percentage of female assistant faculty is 40% higher than the percentage of female faculty as a whole . . . but even that number still puts BYU at the bottom of both lists.

  75. A year or so ago the chairs and deans at BYU(-Utah) were reprimanded by a GA in the RS presidency (in her capacity as member of the Board of Trustees) for hiring too many women into faculty positions, thereby taking jobs away from breadwinners. Most chairs were reportedly horrified. Which I think pretty much sums up the problem of administration at the BYUs when it comes to hiring practices.

    Can this possibly be true? If this is true, it is very, very damning to us as a Church and culture. It is incomprehensible and she and we have a lot of repenting to do. This simply is not right.

  76. This is yet another article on the internet that criticizes the Church and promotes the female vs male narrative. First of all, gender refers to qualities of masculine and feminine. It’s supposed to be used to describe words. Like French nouns have gender, they are either masculine or feminine. People who use the word, gender to describe male and female, are either too shy to say the word, sex, or they may think that, transgender sounds more normal than transsexual.

    Many of the other universities in the comparisons practice affirmative action. One of my male adjunct BYU professors said that he tried to get a job at UVU, because it would pay better. But a lady got the position instead. He had more professional qualifications and experiences, but she got the job because she is female. That gives BYU more credence, actually.

    And yes, there are more female college graduates than males. But perhaps those female graduates choose other careers over being a college professor. There are other careers out there, you know. And many of them pay better than teaching at a college.

    God’s ideal is for a man and a woman to be one; not to compete against each other. Wise people of both sexes know this. We work together.

  77. While I am not here to dispute your research and statistics, I am here to write my two cents of experience there. I was a comm major and received both my Associates and Bachelors degree at BYU-Idaho. I had a fair amount of women professors-one was a little cooky, but overall they were wonderful! My HR professor was female, my Psychology professor was female, my Public Speaking professor was female, my Math professor was female, my Old Testament professor was female and on and on and on. I also worked on campus in the administration building. I worked with more females than I did males. There were two heads of the department; one being male and one being female. The other female employees were full time, several of them obtaining their degree while also raising their families. I never once heard them complain about their pay or the inequality of pay. In my experience, I didn’t see an imbalance of male vs female employees, both administrative and faculty wise.
    After I graduated I applied for a full time position there. They were interviewing both male and females. I have full confidence that when they hire, they hire the person most qualified for the job; whether that be male or female.

    If people want to see higher percentages, then females should apply for the opening positions. I hardly believe it is the schools fault.

  78. Sarah, your comment reveals you didn’t read the original post very carefully. First of all, do you have any idea whether these women you had as “professors” were adjunct professors or staff merely teaching a class or were they full professors with continuing faculty status? Second, the original post points out that more women than men work in the administrative staff roles at all of the BYUs. These are full time jobs, so it completely undermines the argument that the BYUs are just protecting women’s role as stay-at-home mother by not offering them full time work. Rather, the jobs they are excluded from are the high-pay, high-status jobs that have more flexibility (i.e. continuing faculty status professor jobs), which ultimately are actually more family friendly than the full-time secretarial or staff jobs that women are predominantly doing at the BYUs.

  79. Lyn,
    That BYU had hired someone who believed that affirmative action is the only reason some woman was chosen for a position rather than him makes Michael’s argument stronger, not yours.

  80. Even if BYU’s decision to prefer Mormon faculty is self-imposed, I believe that it is important to the population BYU teaches – approximately half of which will be Mormon women – to feel that as Mormon women they can aspire to become faculty.

    If we are going to have more Mormon women PhDs, then we need to address the fact that Mormon ideals of family are often at odds with the credentialing process now required to land a job in academia, such as multiple years at a PhD program, postdocs, and VAPs. Achieving these credentials often requires delaying family, spouses living apart, or one spouse “following” the other at the expense of (usually her) career as one moves around the country. The process to land a tenure-track job is decidedly not family-friend.

    Given the over-abundance of PhDs, I think it is debatable if we want to make it easier to get a PhD. In my ideal world, we’d do away with advanced degrees and just start hiring people out of college as researchers who could be promoted as they develop skills. But if we decide that having Mormon women finish PhDs is a priority, then these are a few things I think would help (most of which I recognize are pipe dreams).

    – Allowing people to finish their degree remotely without consequences such as losing funding.

    – Openness to reciprocal arrangements with other schools where graduate students finishing degrees remotely could have research privileges at campuses near them and maybe even be able to teach courses.

    – Paying stipends large enough to cover childcare expenses (or providing some other form of subsidized childcare).

    – More openness to placing people in jobs at the schools where they complete their degree – or letting them finish their degree on the job – since it’s often infeasible to move from a geographic area after graduation.

    – Less emphasis on degrees from elite schools (because people with families cannot necessarily move to Cambridge or wherever).

    – Reducing the increasingly common expectation for postdocs, VAPs, etc., or increased openness to hiring temporary employees at one’s own school to permanent positions.

    – More commitment to finding a job, academic or otherwise, for a trailing spouse.

    I’m sure others have more ideas.

  81. Sarah, I worked as an administrative support staff in the Kimball Building for two years. I glad you had such a positive experience. I worked in an office that specifically took steps not to hire a certain type of LDS woman while interviewing. I also know loads of stories of current female employees that conflict with your experiences.

  82. Somewhat off topic, but relevant I think. If you look at the list of shareholders (partners) at the Church’s law firm, Kirton & McConkie, you will find that there are only three (3) women and eighty six (86) men (nearly all of them white). Nationally approximately 50% of law school graduates currently are women, and the job market for attorneys in Utah is very competitive. Hundreds of qualified women apply for jobs at that firm every year and yet Kirton & McConkie has just three female partners?? Something is definitely wrong there. Nationally about 20% of large law firm shareholders are women, but at K&M its just 3%,

    My wife worked there for a while and could tell some frightening stories. She only lasted 2 years and then moved to another firm.

  83. Yes, Porter, a perfect example. Something is definitely wrong here. But, again, a female partner at Kirton & McConkie would find herself in a position of potentially advising a General Authority on what to do — and my sense is that is not a position our General Authorities are particularly comfortable finding themselves in.

  84. Hey all,

    Active male temple-recommend holding Mormon here who is married to a wonderful woman getting her PhD in Classics (Ancient Greek & Latin Literature) at UT-Austin. I went to BYU-P for my BS and MA (Information Systems); she got her BA at Utah State. We met while she was pursuing her PhD in Austin.

    While she hasn’t decided whether or not she will pursue a tenure track position anywhere, the market for Classics professors is particularly abysmal lately as there weren’t any Latin professorships available NATIONWIDE last year, she’s pretty firmly set against any faculty position at any Utah university, and I support her in that. After both of our undergrad experiences in a Utah environment neither of us are all that comfortable living in a Mormon-dominated culture. Probably rules out Rexburg & Laie as well. I’ve made it clear that I’m willing to move anywhere for her career, even if it means that I’m the stay-at-home dad, but she really doesn’t want to go anywhere near a Mormon-dominated culture ever again.

    See the above comments if you want to know why that may be.

  85. Pete said “It was only two years ago that CES changed their policy about employing women with minor children at home as full-time paid instructors. However, there was no problem with them being full time support staff .”

    This speaks volumes. So discouraging. It’s like the “ideal” Mormon cultural expectations are too good for the lesser paid workers. Those ladies can clean/serve food/make copies/whatever all day long with their kids in daycare. Acceptable, perhaps honorable. But Dr. Lady Parts wants to work full time? She needs to check her priorities. Is she praying/reading her scriptures?

  86. I’d love to see the relative numbers of male/female professors in the religion departments. Kids go to BYU schools to be surrounded by their religious culture. It doesn’t matter how much BYU professors in the secular fields want their female students to pursue graduate work and careers (my professors were extremely supportive, for example). CES curriculum still says women shouldn’t work outside the home (see, which means a girl will be required to reject that message from her religion professors in order to feel okay pursuing a career. In many ways, religion professors can hold more influence over a girl’s career path at the BYU schools than any others.

  87. A quick look at BYU’s religion education faculty shows that under 10% of them are women.

  88. John Mansfield says:

    “I’d love to see the relative numbers of male/female professors in the religion departments.”

    Then go to the department faculty page and start counting. Here’s a URL to get started (took me several seconds to reach the web page):

  89. Stop Tim, just stop. It just gets worse. So now 90% of the influence of our undergrads comes from a male point of view? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since so do our scriptures, lesson manuals, etc.

  90. stephenchardy says:

    Is it possible for a woman to be President at BYU? I don’t mean “is it culturally possible.” I mean is being BYU President a Priesthood calling? If a woman can’t be President at BYU, then how far up the ladder can she go?

  91. Since BYU Presidents must now also be members of the Seventy (didn’t used to be this way), I would say that, entirely separate from the Utah/Mormon corridor culture that makes it impossible, it is literally structurally impossible under current requirements.

  92. Stephen, even if a woman can’t be president at BYU (troubling, but for the sake of argument, I’ll take it as a given), that shouldn’t impede her rising through the ranks. It’s not like you rise through the ranks from professor to dean to provost to president; in my observations, new university presidents are almost always outside candidates, found by a search firm and vetted however one vets these things. So even if she can’t be president of BYU, she should be able to get to any other rank or position available.

    FWIW, my Jesuit employer just hired a new president. She is both the first lay president and the first woman president in the school’s history. So that kind of thing can happen, even at a religious school (albeit one with professorial gender ratios that are a whole lot closer to parity than the BYUs’).

  93. It’s a function of the overall culture. The culture has historically not promoted or supported women pursuing PhDs and professional degrees. How many LDS female doctors do you know? Dentists? Architects? Lawyers? etc. If your candidate pool is active LDS who WANT to work for BYU, how many women are there that fit this? I’m betting the ratio of qualified candidates favors males 10 to 1.

  94. I’m one of a handful of female shareholders at a SLC-based firm (not K&M) and have been supported and promoted to leadership positions by the LDS male shareholders despite the obvious fact that I’m female. It can be uncomfortable to be the only female in meetings where everyone else knows each other from their missions or HPG, and it has been difficult for me build my own book in SLC for this and other reasons (i.e, not being from SLC or having gone to school there and being lazy about marketing).

    On the whole, my colleagues are respectful and professional and I’m grateful I didn’t pass up the opportunity to work at my firm because there were no other female attorneys in my section at the time I was hired. I’m very aware, however, that sometimes things don’t work out as well as they did for me, but being the only female in a group shouldn’t necessarily be a deterrent from doing something you’d otherwise like to do.

  95. The link Michael included that shows the religious exemption BYU requested and obtained is very telling. Merrill Bateman authored the request which includes the following justification for discriminating against women who apply which he bases on the Proclamation on the Family: “Please note the significant emphasis on the importance of family and the differing roles of men and women in the family. It is for this reason that the University may from time to time make a pre-employment inquiry as to the marital and family status of an applicant for a teaching position at the University. The Church teaches and we believe that such information about marital and family status is relevant, combined with other factors, in assessing the extent of an applicant’s religious conviction and commitment to Church doctrine and practice as we attempt to identify those most qualified to teach at BYU. Naturally, questions about religious conviction will be wide-ranging and will include areas of inquiry about the support of Church leaders, morality, family life, and basic Church doctrine. The result of this broad inquiry will be that the University will have a better view as to whether the applicant has the necessary religious conviction and devotion to teach at BYU.”

    This is why female applicants are asked intrusive and demeaning questions in the interview process that reveal the true feelings these decision makers have about them: that they are inherently suspect simply for being a woman seeking gainful employment. They are then grilled and required to justify why they are not at home supporting their husband by being financially dependent on him. For a married woman with kids to choose to work apparently means that she is not committed to the church and that she is unfit to work at BYU.

    Nuts to that. I’d appreciate a refund of the large quantities of tithing I’ve paid to the church on my supposedly ill-gotten gains over the last 3 decades. Frankly, as a BYU grad and working mother, I’d like an apology. This letter is an insult to every woman in this church who works to support her family. It’s an economic reality that most households require two incomes, but even if they did not, I guess we need to remember that “men are that they might have joy” is one of those scriptures that deliberately excludes women. The founding fathers likewise didn’t include women when they said the pursuit of happiness was an unalienable right.

    Nobody should have thumbscrews put to them to justify why they work to earn a living or have it be assumed that not being financially dependent on a spouse means that they are not committed to the gospel. I find this morally reprehensible. There’s a reason these laws exist to protect women from discrimination. Skirting the law with an exemption that claims women who work are automatically suspected of being faithless is repulsive.

  96. As rah said:

    “I also know a whole bunch of LDS women with PhDs and the number of them not willing to submit themselves the cultural environment of the Y where their male students treat them with less respect, rate them lower (not only a Y problem but exacerbated there), administration roulette and backward senior faculty is significant. You should listen to their stories. You should listen to what some male students say to them and how they get often treated, subtly and not so subtly. We want to pretend its just one clueless student here or an isolated incident there. But its not. None of this is overwrought.”

    I’ve been recruited off and on by a BYU-P engineering department over the past 12 years. Last time I was recruited, there was not a single identifiable female professor with tenure and only a handful of instructors. I’m used to being the only woman in the room in leadership meetings, but where I work, the overall percentage of women in STEM roles is approaching 30%. Even when I still considered myself LDS (I no longer do), there was no way I was going to go back to being a token, especially not with the LDS cultural expectations layered on top of that.

  97. Mary Ann,

    This article addresses your question. A Revolutionary Hire at BYU’s College of Religious Education

  98. Agreed, Angela. The more insulting in my opinion is that the church will allow females to volunteer for jobs they would pay males to do if males were available (eg, seminary teachers).

  99. This is probably not the day for me to have just found in my mailbox yet another dunner from LDS Philanthropies expecting me to write a check to BYU.

  100. Angela C’s right on.

    It can be a positive, couple strengthening experience to counsel together about each spouse’s dreams and desired career paths. Especially when first married, learning to work through problems and situations with mutual respect. And when those plans become a reality, and actually work really great for the benefit of the family, everyone benefits.

    If the Church would let just couples be in this regard, I think they (it?) would see that those of us mothers who choose to work, together with our spouse, really do put family first our decision making.

    It sounds like the female and male undergrads at BYU are fed the Church cultural hard line regarding working mothers, so the odds of women going on to potentially really great, family friendly (and lucrative) career paths is diminished. It’s a disservice to all of them (and us!).

  101. OP,

    BYU’s disparity might be “telling” students that it’s OK to be a full-time mom. Or that it’s OK to be a bread winning dad. It also might be telling students that education has values that go beyond worldly recognition and status.

  102. Such a good and true comment, Maybee!

  103. N. W. Clerk says:

    The Department of Mathematics at the University of Utah has 30 male full professors and 1 female full professor. Clearly, despite having no Mormons on the faculty, the U’s Math Department has been poisoned by the misogyny of the dominant culture!

  104. Two years at Ricks College, I had 6 female instructors.

  105. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    The profound tension is that BYU could be leading the way by providing family-friendly working arrangements that support both male and female faculty members, making it an attractive destination for women with PhDs. They could really reinforce the Church’s commitment to putting families first. Obviously, they only have one model for putting families first, and that is with women staying home to care for children (and clean the house, cook the meals, run kids to extracurricular activities, etc.). It’s just another unforced-error, totally avoidable.

  106. Angela C,

    This is why female applicants are asked intrusive and demeaning questions in the interview process that reveal the true feelings these decision makers have about them: that they are inherently suspect simply for being a woman seeking gainful employment. They are then grilled and required to justify why they are not at home supporting their husband by being financially dependent on him. For a married woman with kids to choose to work apparently means that she is not committed to the church and that she is unfit to work at BYU.

    I’m curious if male applicants are also grilled as to their family situations. Would a male candidate be viewed unfavorably if he had a wife with a career and young children? Anyone out there with personal experience?

  107. christiankimball says:

    I would echo rah at 9:57. To add a little — I think I’ve heard this all before. The pipeline problem. Hostile environment. Administrators who don’t get it. Entrenched cultural expectations. I’ve heard it before, outside Utah, at non-Mormon institutions, 30 years ago. It takes a lot of time and systemic change to effect a difference, and requires a top-to-bottom investment. (That’s what “affirmative action” really is, effort and change. The opposite of doing the same thing while hoping for different results.) That BYU P, I and H are way behind seems indisputable — that’s Michael Austin’s OP. What I’m looking for and wondering about is whether there is a will to systemic change? Is it in the works, however delayed and slow? Or do I read these numbers as one more manifestation of “all’s well in Zion”?

    Incidentally, my tiny window into Mormon BYU culture, from a short teaching gig many years ago, suggested to me that the most prized possession is a job that is stable enough and pays enough to support a family without supplement. That prize is culturally reserved to men (married priesthood holding men). I’ve heard this in the classroom, I’ve heard it backed up by scripture, I’ve heard it in “mission” statements (as in mission of the Church or mission of the institution).

  108. N.W. Clerk,
    As someone who spent a considerable amount of time in the University of Utah’s math department, I can tell you that there is a fair amount of misogyny there (or at least there was when I was pursuing my bachelor’s in math over 10 years ago). Not all misogyny stems from the LDS church, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to do better.

  109. no way, Pete. Male applicants are not asked if their wives work or about their kids.

  110. >It sounds like the female and male undergrads at BYU are fed the Church cultural hard line regarding working mothers, so the odds of women going on to potentially really great, family friendly (and lucrative) career paths is diminished. It’s a disservice to all of them (and us!).

    I didn’t attend BYU, but I did live in single student housing for a few months when I got a real job in Provo. (Incidentally, I was hired mainly because I didn’t go to BYU. 800 applicants for one position, 4 non-BYU grads interviewed). Anyway, lived with 5 single LDS guys who had a discussion one evening on how there were really only three acceptable majors for women at BYU – Family Sciences, Early Childhood Education, and Nursing. They also stated how this was “just in case she needs to fall back on something.” Anything else was taking a student position and a career from the hands of a Breadwinner (TM).

    I’ve instructed my daughter that she may not only consider LDS schools. So far, she’s shown no interest in even checking them out. She did look at the Community of Christ college in Lamoni, Iowa for a bit, but I think she even regards that one as strange.

  111. As an undergraduate at BYU-P, I double majored in German and Physiology. My experience with female faculty was drastically different in the two departments. In the course of my physiology studies, one course had a female instructor. She was adjunct faculty. In the completion of courses for my German major more than half of my courses were taught by female professors. The department chair was an excellent role model of female scholarship. I have since completed a doctorate in Biochemistry. Increasing representation of female scientists in academia was a perennial discussion throughout graduate school. These conversations reminded me of the impact attention (or lack there of) to representation had in the two departments at BYU. I am just beginning my own job hunt, ideally for a tenure track position. My family, friends, and colleagues ask if I will be applying to my alma mater. It makes me a little sad to respond, “I don’t think I would fit in very well there, unless I switched back to German Literature.”

  112. christiankimball, I think that under the surface there is actually a lot of turmoil at BYU over these issues. People on the board of trustees and some senior administrators have effectively imposed sexist policies and policies designed to stifle dissent over Mormon doctrinal and cultural issues. But there are plenty of people at the school, including many in the administration, who recognize how these policies are damaging the university over the long run. I don’t sense an atmosphere of complacency so much as a feeling of simmering anxiety. Sometimes it feels like people are struggling to keep the lid on the teapot.

  113. I disagree with the premise of this article. Correct me if I am wrong. The article concludes that BYU is creating a barrier to entry for women for high-status positions on their faculty. A more accurate comparison might show what % of women are applying for faculty positions for each university, and what % are being hired vs. denied. If the graph showed that a larger % of women were being denied faculty positions at BYU compared to other schools, then I think you might have a correct hypothesis. However, I don’t think that is what the data would show. I have 2 female friends that taught at BYU-I, and BYU-Provo. I would have to ask them, but I don’t think either one of them felt they had a barrier to entry. What I think the graph is showing is that the applicant pool for faculty positions at BYU schools is predominantly male. LDS women in general do not go to graduate school, and are therefore not qualified or seeking faculty positions at the university level. LDS women sometimes (trying not to generalize) go to college to get what I call a “fluff degree,” others might call it a “Mrs degree.” I consider a “fluff degree” to be something that does not increase your earning potential, or something they think they will never have to use because they just want to be a mom. I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting to be a mom. However, reality is that most women need to work and either provide a supplemental income, or are sole income earners for their family. That is why you see a larger % of women working in supportive roles at BYU schools, and not in faculty positions. They have to work, but their CV’s don’t qualify them for “high-status faculty” positions. I am an accountant and my husband is an endodontist. I do not work as a full-time accountant. I choose to be a full-time mom, and I am lucky enough that I can do that. However, I think LDS women should be encouraged to seek graduate degrees. When my oldest daughter was younger and asked what she wanted to be when she grew up would say, “I want to be a mom.” We told her, “Great, but we still want you to get a degree that increases your earning potential, so if you need to work you can make enough money that you can work part-time instead of full-time, so you can have more time to be a mom.” We have encouraged her to be a pharmacist, dentist etc. If a woman chooses to work or has to work, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. We weren’t all made out of the same mold, and all have different life experiences. However, I do feel this article is trying to cast a negative light on BYU, and insinuate they are anti-women, which I don’t think is the case.

  114. For a more in-depth look at dynamics at BYU-Idaho, Andrea Radke-Moss published an excellent essay in the faculty journal in 2009, “Supporting our Women Students & Faculty.” I also shared my own experience of employment discrimination at BYU-Idaho over at W&T.

  115. Erin, I don’t think you read the original post very carefully. Also note a number of the comments address the larger cultural problem that women are not encouraged to seek graduate degrees or careers.

    We need to teach our daughters that they can have whatever career they choose *in addition to being a mother*. The two are not mutually exclusive.

  116. OR the kids never even stop to think about whether they are being taught by a make or female….and that it is only brought to mind with them when you put it there.
    Just a thought….

  117. I’d like to second the comment that was made above that there is no reason we can’t hire non-LDS qualified women as a shorter-term solution. It immediately improves the ratios of women teaching to more normal levels (if they can be recruited successfully), and it doesn’t even “undermine” the sexist teachings that the administration is so concerned about preserving since non-LDS women won’t be seen as role models in the way LDS women are.

    It’s still an insult to LDS women who work and pay tithing and send our kids to these schools. It’s a complete slap in the face, but so is a lot of stuff the church purports is doctrine about women. Yeah, I said “purports.” Come at me, bro.

  118. Erin B,
    “A more accurate comparison might show what % of women are applying for faculty positions for each university, and what % are being hired vs. denied. If the graph showed that a larger % of women were being denied faculty positions at BYU compared to other schools, then I think you might have a correct hypothesis.”

    I don’t think this would paint an accurate picture. As many have stated from their experience, women with PhDs are not applying to BYU because they don’t want to work there. If BYU wants more female faculty, they need to change the atmosphere, not just the hiring practices. My guess is that a lot of people at BYU want female faculty, just not enough of those who are in power.

  119. Trond,
    My point is that I disagree with the authors conclusion of the data. People can continue to debate the problems they find with LDS culture, and you may feel one of the problems is that we need to teach our daughters they can have whatever they want.

    The main point I am arguing is I disagree with the authors analysis, which I feel is more about casting a negative light on BYU, then objectively looking at the data and what it actually represents.

  120. John Mansfield says:

    I remember my children’s principal telling parents that everything her middle school did was done with the aim of getting the students into college. The idea made me sad as I thought back to the many worthwhile things I learned in school prior to college that I was never formally taught again, things I feel had value in themselves without justifying them as steps in a path to the next credential. I can remember decades ago when there was still much exhortation to youth to graduate from high school instead of dropping out to start working. Now many are moving on from the idea that all must go to college to the idea that all must go to graduate school. It turns education into a pyramid scheme driven by desire for status.

  121. I interviewed for a faculty position at BYU a few years ago and it was terribly jarring to find myself fielding otherwise illegal questions–intensely prying about my marriage, sexual habits, plans for kids, and political opinions. The General Authority who conducted my ecclesiastical interview appeared deeply suspicious of me as a “career woman” that might set a deviant example for my students. It was basically a no-win situation.

    Also, despite rumors the (virtually all-male) department was desperate to hire a woman (at least half of the final candidate pool was female), the position went to a man.

    I think Trond may be right: many BYU departments want to hire women, but female candidates get vetoed by administrators or General Authorities who see them as questionable, simply by virtue of applying for the job. Relatedly, I’ve heard from female BYU professors that they take on a massive extra workload mentoring female undergraduates who have no other female professors: this limits their job performance in other areas.

    Pete: Actually, from what I’ve heard, many male job applicants are asked detailed questions about their family lives in the GA interview, and are subject to special scrutiny if they are single. If I remember right, some male candidates have been asked to bring their wives to the GA interview, and a few have even had the GA call their wives on the phone mid-interview.

  122. John Mansfield says:

    In a similar vein to my last comment, it bothers me how many of my children’s math classes are titled pre- this or that: pre-algebra, pre-calculus. When completing algebra and calculus are magic milestones monitored by the state board, trigonometry and geometry and arithmetic become mere pre-requisites with no value of their own.

  123. Christopher Lewis says:

    N. W. Clerk, your numbers are totally wrong. I count 6 women out of 54 tenure track professors in the U’s math department — which is still a terrible showing, but better than what you cited.

    Moreover, whatever the problems the U math department might have, they are hardly representative of the whole university. For example, the College of Humanities (which comprises seven departments and several centers) has about 145 tenure-track faculty members. Of those, around 47% are women. In two of those departments, women are the majority. Source: I’m one of those 145.

    (For those wondering, the percentage of Mormons among the tenure-track ranks in the College of Humanities is generously estimated to be about 3%. If you only count those the church or BYU might count, the number is closer to 2%.)

  124. Female BYU professor here (a unicorn!). The issue is extraordinarily complex. It is true that gender parity is not an institutional priority at the university level. There are some chilling stories floating around, at least some of which may be true.

    But, most of the hiring work is done at the department level. Departments differ on what kind of priority this is for them, and that usually matters more than whether it is a university administration priority.

    Yes, there are fewer women to hire. That makes it hard. Most BYU departments essentially have to grow their own pool of candidates to comply with the LDS hiring requirement. High quality undergraduate mentoring is essential to having a strong pool of candidates to hire. Gendered expectations can play into mentoring, though most of my colleagues are cognizant of this and try to avoid it (in part because I bring it up all of the time).

    But ultimately, pretty much every woman in my department who is thinking of going to grad school eventually comes to talk to me about whether this will impair her dating prospects, ability to be a mother, etc. I call it “the talk.” It can take two hours to walk through all of the issues. I do it because it is important, but it can also be pretty depressing. LDS women will never go to grad school in great numbers of they believe it will ruin their chances at marriage. And given some of what I’ve seen and heard, it probably doesn’t help. In my opinion, the real problem is with young men’s expectations.

    Anyway, there are lots of things I would change about BYU’s cultural environment if I had a magic wand. The discomfort with professional cross-gender interactions is at the top of the list. AND, BYU is also a wonderful place to work most of the time. My colleagues are excellent, good-hearted, smart people. I do have hope that it will get better.

  125. Christopher Lewis says:

    One concession to N. W. Clerk — I didn’t see the “full.” You may be right about that. I’d have to go check. Regardless, the math department isn’t representative of the whole university.

  126. I don’t think anybody has mentioned Southern Virginia University, which according to the chart linked in the OP has just over 43% female faculty. The Mormons there don’t seem to be having much trouble finding qualified women.

  127. When I hear that BYU departments are anxious to hire female faculty, I feel both sympathetic and very frustrated. Because good female candidates are not a miraculous natural resource. They are cultivated. Universities have a responsibility for cultivating them. The Big Ten university where I work pushes hard to hire women in STEM fields, and I am frustrated with them that all this energy goes into the faculty search process, and not nearly so much into feeding the pipeline.

    I got the PhD and guess where I ended up? In the 67% and 64% side of things, not the 20%. I am an anecdote. But I also had not a single female professor in courses required for my major at BYU. No one’s fault. But a mentor or two would have been nice.

  128. President Eyring’s daughter, Dr. Mary Eyring, is currently employed in the BYU-P English Department in a full-time, tenure-track position. Change is glacially slow (and that’s not an exaggeration) but this gives me some hope.

  129. Agree with FemFac and Emily U here. While it’s easy to knee-jerk assign blame to proximate determinants like some old-boys-club hiring process, I suspect that more distal factors may be more significant, like the mentoring of female potential academics.

  130. By all means, mentor more women as scholars. But that’s not the solution. The requirement to hire only a certain type of LDS person for faculty positions is at the root of the problem. BYU is trying to achieve an optimal inbreeding. That’s just not a sustainable strategy. You can’t do that and still maintain an academically excellent university with a thriving, outward-looking intellectual culture. I have the very highest regard for many of the professors I have known at BYU. There are many excellent people there. But the corrosion of the culture will have its way over time, and this discussion highlights one of its effects.

  131. Ardis makes a great point. What’s the difference in hiring practices between the BYUs and Southern Virginia University? The BYUs have an exemption from anti-discrimination legislation whereas Southern Virginia University has to follow the law and not discriminate against women. That’s how you get 11% female faculty at BYU-I and 43% at SVU.

  132. Kevin Barney says:

    Big ol’ BYU could learn a lot of things from little ol’ SVU.

  133. N. W. Clerk says:

    Little ol’ SVU doesn’t require faculty to have terminal degrees. The removal of that restriction makes it much easier to meet social engineering goals with your hiring.

  134. “I’m curious if male applicants are also grilled as to their family situations. Would a male candidate be viewed unfavorably if he had a wife with a career and young children? Anyone out there with personal experience?”

    I know of someone who was asked whether or not his wife worked by the GA interviewing him for a BYU faculty position a few years ago and it was insinuated that he would be making enough money that she wouldn’t need to do so.

  135. If I’m not mistaken, SVU doesn’t have General Authorities interfering in departments’ hiring decisions and shooting down the departments’ desired candidates because in that General Authority’s opinion, not based on any in-depth exposure to the academic’s work, the candidate is “too feminist.”

    Of course there are people in the Church like N.W. Clerk who think this GA involvement is a good thing and that women shouldn’t be allowed to have careers teaching Mormons if they are “feminist.” But despite such people’s desires, this practice is holding us back from our true potential as institutions of higher education and as a people and culture.

  136. I know plenty of active LDS women in their 30’s who have PhDs, including quite a few who have PhDs in science (biology, chemistry, etc.). They teach at universities throughout the U.S. Only one of them teaches at BYU (in the law school). I have one friend with a science PhD (and a post-doc) who is very active in the church and lives within commuting distance from BYU but took a job at a different university; she would’ve worked at BYU had they been willing to hire her. Most recent PhDs aren’t even able to find decent jobs right now–meaning that BYU has a lot of people to pick from, including a ton of women. Again, plenty of capable LDS women have the degrees necessary. BYU’s just not interested.

  137. To what extent do LDS gender norms also impact which men BYU is able to recruit as faculty? For example, I suspect that there are male faculty members who may prefer a different gender culture than BYU as well but perhaps BYU was the only job option they had given the abysmal academic job market more generally. Does LDS culture create a situation in which men may feel more compelled to accept their one offer than women because they look at themselves as the breadwinner, whereas maybe women are more likely to feel able to take a non-tenure-track position elsewhere?

  138. I shared with my friend SGNM Angela C’s comment from 10:59 that has this brain-buster from past-President Bateman: “Please note the significant emphasis on the importance of family and the differing roles of men and women in the family. It is for this reason that the University may from time to time make a pre-employment inquiry as to the marital and family status of an applicant for a teaching position at the University. The Church teaches and we believe that such information about marital and family status is relevant, combined with other factors, in assessing the extent of an applicant’s religious conviction and commitment to Church doctrine and practice as we attempt to identify those most qualified to teach at BYU. Naturally, questions about religious conviction will be wide-ranging and will include areas of inquiry about the support of Church leaders, morality, family life, and basic Church doctrine. The result of this broad inquiry will be that the University will have a better view as to whether the applicant has the necessary religious conviction and devotion to teach at BYU.”

    SGNM replied:

    “So let’s get this straight:

    BYU applies additional scrutiny to female job applicants to determine – by examining their family status – whether they have sufficient devotion to the faith. They are only qualified for the job if they have sufficient devotion. And the marker of devotion is the extent to which they are committed to not applying for the job because they honor their role in the family.”

  139. gst/SGNM: Makes your head spin, doesn’t it? Applying for the position disqualifies you from the position.

  140. Ryan Stice-Lusvardi says:

    Such a great post. Thanks, Michael. It’s a very real problem and not getting better as quickly as many of us would like, but in the last few years I’ve gotten to see up close how eager many BYU professors are to address this. About three years ago I decided I wanted to go back to school for a PhD in organizational behavior. I graduated from BYU-Provo in 2008 and was a stay-at-home mom to my three kids for five years. I had always planned to go back to school, but in 2013 started putting this plan into action. In the midst of an international move, my family ended up staying with family in Provo for four months and it happened to correspond perfectly with winter semester at BYU. I nervously asked a couple of professors if I could sit in on a pre-PhD seminar as well as a research course. They gave me permission, and threw in a whole lot of advice and encouragement. I did not expect that. To be honest, I was surprised people were taking me seriously. One professor in particular felt like I would do well in a PhD program. It was his last semester teaching before he retired and left on a mission, but he encouraged me to meet with him so we could discuss my plans. He sat me down and basically said, “This is hard work, but I can tell this is great fit for you. If this is what you want to do, I have no doubt that you can do it. I’m excited to see what the future holds for you, and please let me know if there is ever anything I can do to help.” He reiterated this message numerous times in the course of our 45-minute conversation. I think about it now, and I realize that he recognized far better than me the hurdles I would encounter, and he wanted it burned in my brain that I could do it. It was incredibly kind and generous. Apart from this experience, I have had a number of experiences with BYU faculty where they have encouraged, supported, and connected me to others in their networks. Over the last three years, I have collaborated with BYU professors on research, and they have served as ongoing sources of advice and encouragement. I’m working currently as a researcher at Stanford, and this fall I will apply to PhD programs. I don’t know where I’ll end up next year, but I’m a lot better off because faculty in the Marriott school took the time to take notice of me and help me along the way. I recognize that the issues associated with such a troubling gap are complicated and deeply rooted problem. It is not my intention to imply that my experience is everyone’s experience, or even common–but I can only speak from my experience. I think about how slowly change is happening and my heart sinks, but then I think about the men and women at BYU that encouraged, challenged, and supported me and it’s certainly encouraging.

  141. As a current tenured faculty member at BYU-Provo, I hope that I can provide some clarity on a couple of points:

    * The General Authority interview that is part of the hiring process is a complete crapshoot. Those interviews are assigned randomly, and the tone and questions in the interview depend entirely on who you get. I have female colleagues who have been grilled about their alleged lack of desire for a family and those who have talked about their research the entire time. I have male colleagues who have talked abou BYU football for twenty minutes, whereas I was asked about whether I was done having children. It is true that women are more likely to have the kind of poor experiences that have become anecdotal legend, but that is not the case across the board and it has become less common over the past two decades.

    * Hiring practices vary significantly across departments. In the thirteen years I have been at BYU, my department has gone from 10% women to 33% women in our FTE slots (from four to thirteen, which includes the retirement of two of the original four). This has been due to two factors: a concerted effort on the part of the department to diversify the faculty, and a quantifiable jump in the number of qualified (both academically and ecclesiastically) female candidates. Other departments have not had the same commitment. As an aside, we have never had a candidate rejected by the administration due to gender; the ones we have lost have been due to either academic questions or worthiness issues.

    * One of the unstated issues (at least from a quick read of the comments above) is that BYU has ended many of its graduate programs in the past two decades, and that trend will likely continue. One partial result of that is that a relatively inexpensive option for a master’s or doctorate no longer exists.

    * The fact that only temple-worthy LDS candidates can be hired at BYU (despite the BIG LIE in the job advertisements of “LDS preferred”) seriously limits the candidate pools–for both men and women, not to mention other minority groups. And even then, many ecclesiastically approved candidates decide not to apply or to accept job offers for various reasons (e.g. CFS is not the equivalent of tenure; not wanting to live in Utah; concerns over academic freedom or diversity). This is only going to change over the long term, if ever. Not only do BYU faculty stay longer in positions than peers at other institutions, as someone mentioned above, but even a concerted effort to mentor women or minorities takes a minimum of a decade from start to finish (longer with some degree programs). Those two factors, combined with the ecclesiastical requirements, also limit the available faculty pool. This policy can certainly be questioned, but I would be absolutely stunned if it ever changed at this point. Even with artificial limitations on the available faculty pool, there are still far more qualified applicants than faculty positions.

    * SVU is not officially affiliated with the LDS Church, so any comparison with that institution’s hiring practices is problematic from the outset. I think that the significant academic differences between the Provo and Hawaii/Idaho campuses and the clearly unique aspects of their respective missions also should make any comparisons more challenging than some suggest.

    I could go on, but usually at this point in the comments people have really stopped reading. Let me conclude by saying that I am not suggesting that there should not be a concern about the gender disparity at BYU. As he always did in grad school in gospel doctrine and Elders’ Quorum, Mike makes excellent points in the original post. Moreover, there are absolutely entrenched cultural obstacles to overcome if real change is to occur. But it would be a mistake to look only at the numbers presented without providing meaningful context for them in terms of the unique hiring circumstances that face academic departments at BYU. And it would be completely incorrect to assume that there is not awareness of, concern about, and an on-going effort to ameliorate this issue at the departmental and college level at BYU.

  142. For what it is worth, I just graduated from
    BYU in December of 2015 and I had at least one or two female professors every semester I was there (my last semester 3 out of the 5 were female). The department heads of both my major and minor were female and to be completely honest, some of my favorite and most influential professors were women. To be fair, I don’t know off the top of my head how many of them were adjunct vs full time faculty. Maybe I was just lucky and took the right classes (I spent most of my time in the business school and the sociology department) but while these numbers are depressing and I hope BYU recruits more female faculty, the ones that are already there are making a huge impact.

  143. What DJ says, above.

    I am a female full professor at BYU-P, and I have long experience with hiring over the course of my time at the institution. Our dept is desperate to hire qualified female faculty, but it’s a challenge. I’ll reiterate some of the key points from above, and add maybe a little more:

    * the focus on “traditional gender roles” suppresses the numbers of LDS women who pursue graduate school, either because they feel they’re not supposed to commit to a career (as opposed to a job, which most feel it’s important to prepare for) or because they fear they won’t get married (miss their chance or seem unattractive to LDS men)

    * the self-imposed institutional restriction to temple-worthy LDS applicants means that our dept can’t even consider between 80-90% of the applicants for our posted positions (of which generally half are female)

    * additionally, skittish administrative red flags eliminate at least some otherwise qualified LDS applicants from our consideration each year (ecclesiastical qualms, publication/research on “sensitive” topics or in suspect venues). The administration denies this, though I have first-hand experience w/ such situations (obv, this affects both men and women)

    * when we mentor up bright young women, many of them have no desire to return to teach at BYU, not because of our dept (generally among the more nurturing of women) but because of the gender probs in the larger culture; many women disaffiliate between graduation and the completion of their terminal degrees

    * the administration has not historically been all that sensitive to women’s concerns or perspectives (a minor example: all official correspondence with the university–not with my dept–was addressed to me using my spouse’s last name, which I did not take upon marriage) (in a recent meeting with faculty, the pres and VP of the univ dismissed out of hand a female faculty’s question about the possibility of on-campus child care)

    * GA interviews are a kind of roulette, as someone said above; but interview subjects that cause more frequent grilling include: single women (on their prioritizing career), married women (on the family conflict), and single men (are you secretly gay?)

    * the offloading of lower-paying work to female faculty in general gives the lie to the concern for families, as these jobs are lower paying and diminished in institutional authority. However, it is true that some women who have left academic after completing an advanced degree to raise families do prefer adjuncting (not as flexible as some of the above folks have suggested, but without the burden of university citizenship assignments or the pressure of publication)

    At the dept level, we know there’s a huge prob here, but many of the factors are out of our control.

  144. Kevin Barney says:

    I agree with DJ and Olde Skool that many, many BYU professors are aware of and sympathetic to these issues and try hard to diversify their departments. I have lots of BYU professor friends who fall into this category. My impression is that this is not so much a departmental issue but a higher up administrative issue, which is a black box with no transparency whatsoever, and qualified candidates are regularly rejected for no stated reason. A lot of the quirky religious cultural tests can be disqualifying factors at that level.

  145. correction: my last bullet should have said, “the offloading of lower-paying work to female adjuncts and staff”

  146. Oh, one more thing re: adjuncts: one of the big appeals to a univ. about adjuncts is that if they are kept below a certain hours-per-week line, the univ is off the hook with regard to the ACA: that is, they remain under the legal benchmark for receiving health care benefits. Our dept is (as I think all depts are) prohibited from giving more teaching/courses/hours to some adjuncts who would very much like to work more. Again, these workers are disproportionately women. So much for concern for families.

  147. Kevin is correct in suggesting that the information flow from the administration is largely a one-way street. Many of the administrators see themselves as the gatekeepers for the Board; some consider themselves GAs in waiting from what I have observed. Their role, as they conceive it, is to prevent any problems from landing on any desks in SLC. As a result, personal proclivities have the potential to override decisions made and ratified at the department and college level.

    I can also attest that candidates can and have been rejected for reasons unique to BYU. One example: an otherwise perfectly qualified candidate in a search run by our department failed to receive approval for a campus visit (after being approved for an initial interview) due to his spouse’s (not his) involvement with certain non-orthodox groups. Another, more common one: in the past, publishing in some venues (e.g. Dialogue, Sunstone) has also been considered disqualifying at that level–just on principle, with the article often going unread. This has, at least in my experience, thankfully become less of an issue in the last decade.

    I also think it is worth pointing out–and I would expect that Olde Skool would back me up on this–that female faculty members at BYU end up taking on significantly more citizenship/committee work (in relative terms) than their male counterparts–for obvious reasons that go beyond the requisite skill set or interest in certain areas. This ends up delaying research agendas, publishing, and other endeavors….which can have an adverse effect on promotion, raises, etc.

  148. Jumping to conclusions with one data point is weak. The writer of this article then jumps to all kinds of conclusions. Do some research of your own. Interview teachers and administrators. How many females apply for those ‘higher paying jobs’. My wife is extremely smart. She has also been out of the workforce as a stay at home mom. If she decided to reenter the workforce, would she be qualified for those ‘high paying jobs’ after sitting out for 20 years? I know that my wife isn’t alone at staying home for much of her 20s and 30s. If BYU is stifling women in the workplace, then it needs to stop, if they aren’t, then have some real data to back it up.

    Note: I know a woman that headed the Business Department, ran the Jerusalem Center and also headed Southern Virginia U. BYU didn’t hold her back. I’m going to ask her thoughts on your article and conclusions.

  149. What good is it to have a diverse looking faculty if they all think alike? The bigger problem in academia is the domination of left-wing thought. Conservatives and conservative ideology is almost completely shut out. Progressives are using public education to indoctrinate our children into leftist thought. In 2016 the Communist party isn’t even running a candidate for president, they are pleased to endorse Hillary.

    I would bet that BYU has the most diversity of ideology among its various professors of any University, therefore BYU students are receiving the most liberal education.

  150. Michael, thanks so much for shining a light on this issue.

  151. Backing you up, DJ.

  152. Michael, I would be interested in knowing if the statistics do or don’t include faculty who don’t have a teaching role, since many campuses, including BYUP, grant faculty status to librarians, counseling psychologists, etc. and these areas tend to be more feminized (both in terms of higher ratios of female faculty and being viewed as “helper” professions rather than full-fledged faculty members). I would suspect that if these faculty members were removed from the reported numbers so that we were looking only at the number of faculty who are in the classroom modeling a career for their students, the percentage of female faculty would drop a bit more. Not to say that non-teaching faculty don’t play a significant role on campus, they just don’t interact with the students as frequently as a typical professor does.

  153. Former Female Candidate says:

    Another anecdote, but I’d like to think it is revealing. I tried posting this once, so I hope I don’t end up posting it twice. If so, my apologies.

    About 10 years ago I applied for a faculty position at BYU-P. I am in a field where roughly 30% of PhDs are women. At the time, there were no female faculty members at BYU. The faculty would absolutely have said their were DESPERATE to hire a woman and that the pool is thin. Certainly they kept track of my during my PhD. And I don’t have any egregious GA horror stories. But here are three distinctly gendered features to my campus visit that explain why I am happily teaching elsewhere:

    1. It was emphasized repeatedly how great it would be to have me there to mentor female students. The faculty said it, the chair said it, the dean said it. It was weird to have it said so much, weird that it was more a talking point than my research or potential contribution to the field–which were the things I was, after all, there to discuss at all my other fly-outs.

    2. When we went to lunch, it was with a huge group of faculty who all talked to each other. No one talked to me much in the social settings. Maybe that was my fault–they were my old professors, after all, and I was nervous. But at all my other fly-outs, and in all the times since when I have interviewed candidates, the candidate is the center of attention–it’s time for the faculty to recruit and sell themselves to the candidate. Again–it was weird, and I view it as representative of the difficulty Mormon men and women have in socializing with each other. (And–also funny, all the men took dessert home at dinner for their wives. Never seen that anywhere else–can’t decide it was sweet or patronizing.)

    3. At the end of the day, I was offered a 3 year appointment (with the understanding that a tenure track option might be in the future) and the tenure track position went to a man–granted, in a different specialty that they needed to hire in. From my vantage point now having done many faculty hires, I know there was likely some flexibility there that wasn’t leveraged–if a tenure track offer for a female candidate was a high enough priority, that could have happened. But–my husband was also interviewing in another department that made him a tenure track offer. I think the department I interviewed with assumed I would follow him. They were stunned–stunned–when I took a tenure track offer somewhere else and my husband took the visiting appointment there (that did turn into a tenure track position a year later).

    So those were 3 factors in my case–treating the female candidate as somewhat “token” and mostly desirable for her service potential rather than research potential, difficulty treating a professional woman appropriately in a social context, and assuming the woman would be the trailing spouse. And again–I would say I am 95% sure that everyone would have said they REALLY TRIED to hire a female candidate, but that she turned them down.

  154. The anecdotes here are heartbreaking. Unfortunately, they aren’t breaking the right hearts, the ones attached to decision makers.

  155. I will add my eloquent comment to the chorus here and say, this sucks.

  156. Kent Harrison says:

    I spent 36 years at BYU as a faculty member. Things are a lot better than they used to be. That is not to say of course that they couldn’t be better. To note just one change, there are now a number of female religion faculty where there used to be none.
    I scanned the faculty listing on the BYU website to sample the numbers of female faculty. It is true. There aren’t very many.
    I was Physics and Astronomy Department chair during most of the 1980s, and following that I was chair of the hiring committee for several years. During my tenure we simply didn’t have any openings. As noted in one of the comments, BYU faculty don’t often leave. When I was hiring chair, we actively searched for possible female candidates. There were few. Many LDS women do not consider a science career, although some do. They feel an obligation to be in the home where possible. Some are able to do both. In the sciences, as in most fields, the academic culture–with which BYU goes along, indeed must do so in order to be an attractive institution for academic candidates–demands keeping current with one’s field. That is extremely hard to do, even for a person who has no other responsibilities. I found that difficult, even as a man, partly because I placed value on my family. My daughter started out majoring in computer science, but as the children came, she realized she couldn’t possibly keep up and abandoned the idea of that major. There are, in our department, there are two full time women faculty plus several part time teachers. Lots of students in our courses will have a female teacher. I note also that a large number of our majors, both undergraduate and graduate, are female. There is another very bright woman in our college whom I recently suggested for the Distinguished Faculty Award, and faculty in her department agreed but wanted to wait for a few years until she is more seasoned.
    I am certain that the University administration are aware of the problem and are doing what they can to improve the numbers. Dallin Oaks, when he was president, clearly encouraged women to be faculty members and did quite a bit to overcome old stereotypes. I have a cute story about Jeffrey Holland, when he was president, which shows his growing understanding of the need for women faculty (I won’t relate it here but will tell anyone who asks. He continues to be very much aware of women’s concerns.)
    I will send a reference to this article and comments to BYU President Kevin Worthen. I am sure he will be interested.

  157. Great article.

    I didn’t read all of the comments so my apologies if others already said this (which is likely), but I think the hiring practices are a reflection of a greater institutional gender imbalance. Frankly, until there are women of high status in the Church hierarchy (and I don’t mean status through marriage to a high-status man), the message will continue to be that such status is reserved for men. If there were women in the Seventy or the Twelve, the effects would trickle down to Church hiring practices and local leadership positions.

    I’m not holding my breath for this. Right now I’m just hoping America can take a big step and elect its first female president.

  158. In 2014, the BYU-Provo Faculty Women’s Association published statistics, gathered from the National Center for Education Statistics Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System ( Here are the numbers:

    In 2003, there were 228 male assistant professors and 92 female assistant professors; in 2013, there were 275 male assistant professors and 79 female assistant professors.
    In 2003, there were 314 male associate professors and 77 female associate professors; in 2013, there were 454 male associate professors and 99 female associate professors.
    In 2003, there were 419 male full professors and 35 full female professors; in 2013, there were 421 male full professors and 41 female full professors.

    I am an associate professor at BYU-Provo. In the winter of 2015, President Worthen visited our college for a Q&A. I asked him if he was aware of these statistics (he said he was not) and I asked if there were university initiatives to increase the number of women faculty (he was non-committal in his response). So while I think there may be desire for diversity at the department and college level in hiring, there is little indication that this is a desire at the administrative and Board of Trustees level.

  159. This comment section makes me think, “We’re all going to hell, just not all for the same reason.” And then I remember that Provo feels a lot like I imagine hell to feel, so maybe not all women will go there after all.

  160. One last comment.

    There has been consistent agreement among all BYU insiders regardless of which side of the optimism/pessimism divide that the GA interview is “roulette”, “random” and a source of really problematic experiences.

    So here’s the thing. A simple change the administration could make is to ask for a relatively large list of 70s who are committed to supporting the university’s supposed goal of a more balanced faculty to do be the pool for the relatively small numbe of female faculty interviews that need to be done. This would seem a no-brainer and super doable. But the church and adminI stratum won’t do this and clearly haven’t. This to me speaks volumes about how those with true power prioritize or even care about this issue. They simply don’t or at least not enough to do this simple obvious thing or to dare offending some 70 whosee dealing are clearly more important than this problem. So all the well meaning, good hearted faculty in the world can try but ultimately the institution they are embedded simply doesn’t care or is so ambivalent about women faculty that it is a Sysyphian task.

    Now is there some sort of honor in rolling the rock up this hill. Sure. But let’s recognize it for what it is. And given this, I am sorry but in almost every case the advice I would give a female faculty member facing this landscape who has options is to run. It rarely works out well for those caught underneath Sysyph’s boulder. Faculty have one mortal life to live and one already career ahead of them. Unless they feel an overwhelming calling to the work there is no reason to subject themselves to an administration that by in large doesn’t care and may well never really care making this change in a sustained way. That is the fundamental problem.

  161. I am a female adjunct instructor at BYU-Provo. I agree that more female professors should be hired at BYU. I have seen women with better research, PhDs from better universities, more publications, and more experience be passed over for men with with inferior qualifications. I also agree that adjuncts should be paid more for their work. However, I disagree that adjuncts have less flexibility. I choose to be an adjunct specifically for the flexibility! While my children are very young I have decided that I would rather adjunct part-time and be free to teach a few hours a week and spend the rest of my time at home with my children. Full-time professors teach full loads, need to be in their offices all day, go to hours of meetings each week, and are expected to keep up on teaching, research, and committee duties. I am free to come-and-go as I want! In the future, I will apply for a full-time professor position, at BYU and other universities. I know my situation is similar to several other female adjuncts at BYU, who are choosing to only teach part-time so they can spend more time with their children than they would as a full-time professor. BYU cannot be faulted for those decisions. Unfortunately, adjuncts are abused at almost all universities, whether they are male or female. Those of us who have other household income are lucky, because we would not be able to survive or take care of our families alone on adjunct pay ($700/month per class) and lack of medical insurance.

  162. Is there anyone reading with an HR background who can comment on how the cost of living around BYU-P and BYU-I might affect the gender balance in the job applicant pool? I am not trying to diminish all the issues raised above, which I agree are significant. Also, I recognize that higher education hiring is its own animal and tends to bring in people from other locations to a certain place. But I am curious about the cost-of-living factor in the soup of factors because of something I hear recently.

    My husband works in the high-tech industry in Utah County–his company is aggressively seeking to improve gender parity. My husband was told (by someone in HR?) that one challenge is that typically in a geographical location with a low cost of living, a family can manage more easily on just one income, or one-plus. It was suggested that statistically this tends to lead to communities with more men in the workforce than women. Again, I am not offering this as an excuse or the whole picture. Just wondering if anyone else has heard of a cost-of-living effect on gender parity?

  163. Regarding the seeking by BYU for an exemption to the laws our society has put in place to prohibit conduct we have come to see as reprehensible: this is what the fight for #religiousfreedom is all about.

  164. The fight for religious freedom is all about denying our daughters and sisters and aunts a chance to use their God-given talents? Okay, then.

  165. The fight for religious freedom is all about making sure women have less access to health care and less job security? If you say so.

  166. The Family Proc. says that both men and women should be prepared to do the other spouse’s role. Women can’t be prepared to earn a living if they can’t work outside the home and keep their skills current in the workplace.

  167. Mormon Feminist Man says:

    I’ve heard a few people try and discredit this by claiming Mormon women don’t have PhDs, and that accounts for the discrepancies. Any data on how many Mormon women have PhDs?

  168. I have no idea what specific problems there might be with attitudes, culture, etc. at BYU. But people seem to be missing a bigger point: the whole academic system places burdens on people focused on families, and these burdens hurt women more than men. If it is your dream to have BOTH four wonderful children and tenure at a university as strong as BYU, several factors work against you.

    1. The vast majority of people who start graduate school do not end up getting tenured faculty positions at universities this strong. These positions are rare and competitive.

    2. Whether one does or does not end end up with a lifetime tenured appointment depends almost entirely on the quantity of high quality research one produces between (roughly) age 26 and 36. Coincidentally, these are the biologically optimal years for women to have children.

    3. If employed by a university, one is likely to have at least 30 hours a week on average of teaching duties, administrative duties, refereeing duties, etc. Somebody who works 100 hours a week for those few years can produce 7 times as much research as one who works 40 hours week. In this system, it is very hard for people (men or women) with children to compete with people without children, even if they have 40 hours a week of childcare.

    4. The system hurts women more than men. A man who wants to combine a dream of being a professor with a dream of having four children can (in principle) get tenure at age 36 and then marry a younger woman. There are plenty of younger women willing to marry tenured professors. But a woman who wants to do the same is up against her own biology. Marrying a younger man does not help with that. Moreover, no matter how egalitarian a culture may be, the early year burdens of pregnancy, nursing, etc. fall more heavily on women than on men. (And this is without even bringing up the obvious cultural issue that it is easier to find a wife willing to do the bulk the childcare during those years than a husband willing to do the same…)

    5. Some universities try to help out by adding extra years to the tenure clock for people who have children. But this sometimes simply prolongs the pressure and uncertainty. (On the other hand, many universities also offer a semester off from teaching to someone who has a child, which is genuinely helpful.)

    6. As an academic, one has comparatively little control over the city in which one ends up living. (Often one gets just a few offers, spread out around the country in random cities.) This is hard to manage when one has a spouse, who may also have constraints, and it is especially hard for couples with children to live apart from each other for longer periods.

    These are huge problems everywhere, not just among Mormons or at BYU, and they lead many ambitious academics to delay children until after tenure, which in practice often means not having children at all. Simply saying “Hey, hire more women!” or “Hey, hire more people with children!” does not really get to the root of the problem. The fact that a university has lots of women on its faculty does not necessarily mean it is a friendly place for women who prioritize children. (It may be that those women are making sacrifices to their family life that they really wish they didn’t have to make.)

  169. I want to push back on the assertion that tenure track is not family friendly. As a student/grad student of the sciences at U of U and OSU I had several female professors who became mothers during their early teaching careers. As someone else pointed out, parental leave for professors can be far more generous than parental leave in other settings. Besides parental leave, one professor routinely brought her baby to the office, one had her 9 year old stay with her on some afternoons at work, and my advisor left at 2:30 PM every day to pick up his kid from school. I’d love to do that at my job when I have kids (I’m a geologist at a consulting firm, and the parental benefits are terrible). The hours in tenure-track faculty positions may be long, but they are flexible and facilitate extended breaks. And research on the pay gap finds that flexible hours are a crucial metric in keeping and advancing women (see the Vox article on the gender pay gap).

    *Getting* a PhD can be a potentially family-friendly process, but it definitely depends on your goals. My friend has had 2 kids during her bio PhD program, and the ability to mostly set her own hours has been a huge help. I opted out of my PhD program because I thought a master’s degree would give me more opportunities, since I never want to be a professor.

  170. Former Female Candidate says:

    Echoing Rachel. I didn’t have 4 kids, but I did have 3–2 while in grad school and 1 my first year in a tenure track job. My husband was also in grad school and is now also a professor. That combo is as perfect as it gets for a “real” career. We took a year longer to get our PhD than the norm, but that isn’t really a hit and we had SO much control over our hours in grad school (though we did take a year longer, but so what?). Everyone in my department was clear to tell me that no one cared what hours I kept in the office as long as I published. I realize this isn’t the case everywhere, but neither is it the case everywhere that a tenure track job is incompatible with family.

    We’ve always been home for our kids after school. We didn’t used preschool until they were 3 and then only part time. But–one of us was always working in the evenings and on weekends. And we weren’t trying to get tenure at Harvard. And let me reiterate that BOTH of us chose flexible jobs where we could be focused on family as well as our careers. But there is a HUGE range of places where the tenure standards are not brutal and universities have a lot of potential to be really family friendly places.

  171. T makes a good point: the academic job market can be abysmal, which can discourage people from gettin PhDs. BUT I actually think this is unlikely to discourage many Mormon women from going to grad school. I never once thought about job prospects when I was applying for PhD programs because I assumed I was just finding something interesting and productive to do before I got married. (Yeah, I know.) And when my female students talk to me about grad school, few seem concerned about this. (They are way more concerned about whether moving to Princeton would mean spinsterhood.) The male students do, though. I’ve long wondered if the abysmal academic job market and differentially gendered responses to it might be what finally shifts the ratio of Mormon men to women getting PhDs. But then BYU frequently ranks in the Top Ten for number of undergraduates who go on to get PhDs. So, maybe not.

    One other VERY important point has not been discussed. Having a hiring pool of qualified LDS candidates requires prestigious grad schools to admit LDS students. Most, though not all, of that pool comes from BYU undergrad programs. That requires the BYU department and its faculty to have the respect of scholars in top departments. Lots to say about this, but I’ll just focus on one thing. In my experience, the default position of many admissions committees is to dismiss BYU applicants becuase of their assumptions about BYU and Mormons. We work very very very hard to build relationships with other scholars so that they see how excellent our students are (you’ll have to take my word for it, but our students are exceptionally well-qualified). This has paid off a lot, but top schools still rarely admit more than one or two of our students per year. The prize typically goes to the bright student who was the fastest to realize s/he wanted to get a PhD and then got the most experience. So, not usually a woman. I have had two smart and qualified female students who have applied to PhD programs widely and not been accepted because they weren’t the “star” that year. They were just slower to start seriously thinking about what they wanted to do. It is very frustrating. We have set up mechanisms to try to reach women earlier, but we are fighting powerful cultural trends. We are also fighting against powerful biases at elite universities (some of which the Church perpetuates in the process of doing other things).

    So, as I said before, it is a very complex problem. Those of you who dismiss our efforts as probably superficial may be right in some cases (including the case of the broader administration, at least under the prior president; there has been some very recent movement on this). But many of us in many departments spend hours each week talking about and working on this complex issue. And I can attest that it is slowly but undeniably getting better.

  172. “And let me reiterate that BOTH of us chose flexible jobs where we could be focused on family as well as our careers.”

    My husband and I did this as well, though I work less than he does. I love that he spends so much time with the kids and doesn’t have so much pressure as the primary breadwinner, and household/homemaking responsibilities are shared which I appreciate. In our situation with our personalities, this arrangement hits closest to the “family first” message we get at Church. For us family means mom, kids, as well as dad actively present and involved. And opportunity for personal growth for everyone. I know this is tangential to the OP, but when we culturally stress the “moms stay home” message as the only acceptable way, couples miss out on other potentially really great arrangements.

  173. I’m a staff member at a large and high-ranking R1 university–a lot of BYU professors get their PhDs here. In a recent survey we did, staff reporting working about 45 hours/week (rounding to preserve anonymity) while faculty reported working 55-60 hours/week. I really wish that had been broken down into tenured vs. untenured, because it’s my strong impression that faculty work insane hours in order to get tenure (really from the start of graduate school) and then things get more reasonable. They do generally have flexibility about when they work those hours, but even that varies a lot between fields. (If you’re a chemist, a lot of your schedule is going to be determined by your experiments until you get to the point that you’re not doing them yourself.)

    In the Church we tell both men and women that their families are their top priorities. However, men face little if any cultural pressure to modify their career choices or reduce their hours to reflect that. (It’s usually framed as reducing/modifying their leisure time.) I’ve never gotten any pushback when I tell people I dropped out of my PhD program because my family needed me, but I don’t recall anyone ever saying that was a good thing. I’m sure that if I were female, people would regularly congratulate me for that choice.

    Meanwhile women are now told they can work outside the home, but they need to choose a family-friendly career. I’m glad to hear some people are making that work in academia, but it would definitely be the exception where I’m at.

    But I’d rather change the message men are getting than women. It’s time all jobs in academia (and all jobs period) become family-friendly.I don’t think anyone really wants to work the kind of hours people do now, but we’re stuck in a prisoner’s dilemma situation where the moment one person does it everyone has to. It’s time the academic community as a whole said “we’re no longer going to reward that kind of behavior.”

    This doesn’t address the BYU-specific problems people have raised here. I can’t say much about those other than that they sound very serious and I hope the leadership takes them seriously. But I firmly believe the workplace and the economic realm in general are where we most need policies that defend the family.

  174. @RLD

    You’d be surprised at how much control even laboratory scientists have in their schedule. I worked in labs for 6+ years and you decide when to start and how to structure your experiments. Advanced PhDs and postdocs also have undergrad (and sometimes grad) students supporting their work who can step in if necessary. And I have yet to meet a professor (I’ve worked in physics, environmental engineering, and geochemistry) who *actually* runs their own experiments, even when they want to.

  175. RLD, I totally agree with you. While a faculty job requires hard and consistent work (especially before tenure), plus good luck, I am dismayed at the culture in academia that sees hours worked as a measure of status. I do not believe that all of those hours are always necessary. And I know from experience that all of those hours are not equally productive. We need to teach people to work smarter, not harder. To distinguish more and less useful uses of their time. To realize that there is an optimal level of stress for productivity, and it is not 100% all the time. To learn how to say no.

    When I started, the senior faculty member training new hires told us that we would never get tenure at BYU unless we worked from 7am to 7pm 5 days per week, plus time on Saturday. I realized that told me more about him than about me. Yes, there have been 12-15 hour days. Some overnighters driven by deadlines stacked on top of each other. Some exhausting travel days. Some overwhelmingly stressful periods. But these are not *nearly* as common as 7-9 hour days of focused work interspersed with lunch or a good chat with a colleague. (Plus some evening email. Ugh. I hate email.)

    Now, I have had some good luck (though also some bad luck), so my story isn’t everyone’s story. And certain times have definitely been harder than others. But I think my experience would be a fairly common story if we actually had people’s time logs. Perpetuating the insane working all the time story may make us feel important and give us a way to fight against the “you only teach X hours per week?!” issue, but it has costs.

  176. “It’s time all jobs in academia (and all jobs period) become family-friendly.” Hear, hear! Why is it that the BYUs don’t have on site child care available? There are MANY people in the communities who would take a child care job if there was a great center looking to hire staff, and this would benefit both women and men who are parents as well as their kids. Kids benefit socially from being in a clean, well-run child care with other kids their age and teachers who care about them and love them. It improves family time because the parent who is the primary caregiver has a break once in a while. If the child care facility was on campus or near, both parents could meet up for lunch together with their children or take breaks to come sign them out and spend time with them. Other countries have both lunch and dinner together as a family. They think we are anti-family for working such long hours away from home without a break. They integrate work and family in much smarter ways than we do.

    The simple fact is that we don’t actually give a fig about families. We only care about forcing women to shoulder the entire burden of raising children alone and without common sense help. Maybe that was a great solution in the post-WW2 era when there weren’t enough jobs for all the men returning from war, but it’s an incredibly naive solution in our two-income economy. Let’s pull our heads out and start listening to the women who are asking for what should be obvious solutions.

  177. Angela C: yes, many of us would like to see good childcare on/near campus. Honestly, if not for faculty, at least some good options for students. (Finish school! Don’t go into debt! Don’t delay having children! This trio would be much more feasible with even a little childcare support for young couples.)

    There is a child-friendly area being installed in the library. And there is a half-day preschool that faculty get dibs on. But we were told in no uncertain terms to never expect childcare on campus by President Samuelson. From some carefully phrased answers to questions, I surmise that while President Worthen is not necessarily personally opposed to the idea, the decision has definitively been made above his pay grade. The party line is that it is parents’ responsibility to solve childcare challenges.

  178. “it is parents’ responsibility to solve childcare challenges.” BS. That means it’s the mother’s sole responsibility in the eyes of decision makers. If the men were asking for it and demanding it, maybe someone would give a crap.

  179. We are talking here about how gender roles in the LDS culture and at BYU affect women but it also negatively affects men. When men are told they must be the sole breadwinners of a family, they forego pursuing a career or study into a field that won’t properly provide. For example, fewer men go into elementary or secondary education because it doesn’t provide enough income to be the sole breadwinner. However, they may be an excellent fit for that career or simply be interested in that field of study. My point is that when we culturally track careers according to traditional gender roles, it negatively affects BOTH genders. I know successful families where there are stay at home dads and bread winning moms.

  180. “I know successful families where there are stay at home dads and bread winning moms.” Yes, me too. Mine was one for a while, although optimally, we both enjoy working.

  181. yes my husband and I do too. But, each couple must work out they want for their household and family. Let them both be in careers that they enjoy and feel like they are making a contribution in or let one parent stay at home. We should allow that freedom for couples to choose.

  182. Great comments from some very reasoned and smart people. Thank you.
    I’ve always wondered why the church is still in the business of owning universities. I suppose that it’s an ego thing – I mean owning some accredited, degree-granting institutions where you can impose Zion is pretty heddy. I have to believe, of all the priorities that the Lord has for His church on earth, that BYU is like No. 776. For so many though the church is BYU and BYU is the church. Sad but typical. I’m just happy that BYU is not the Gospel.

  183. This has been one of the most fascinating threads I have read in a long time. I was discussing it on a Facebook post of a conservative BYU professor, and a BYU Studies Senior Editor, who says he has been an administrator at BYU for 15 years, made this reply. “What a beautiful thing all those LDS women who could have gotten PhDs decided to do something much more meaningful with their time, such as raise the next generation. Our pool of qualified female PhDs is smaller for a reason, a very good and respectable one.” I then quoted Olde Skool’s comments on the situation, and he replied, “She makes some good points, but she sees them as problems. My point is, a culture that aligns itself to the needs of children first, and the marriage culture that ensues, rather than the goals of adult men and women, is a very good thing. We can throw out our marriage emphasis and then there would be less tension along the edges of Mormondom, such as hiring at BYU, but then we as a people would be like salt without flavor, no different than the world, who, at the time being, have lost there marbles on the subject of redefining gender.”

  184. Also, another BYU faculty member I talked to recently said that student evaluations are weighed very heavily when considering promotion and continuation at BYU, and women tend to get lower evaluations, presumably because students are not used to being placed under the authority of women.

  185. Interesting data Michael — and when you provide relevant data it will be even more interesting instead of just implicitly sexist (and the irony is that you cannot even think of seeing it as implicityl sexist). I proudly represent both plaintiffs and defendants in gender discrimination cases. I defended a company against a complaint brought by the EEOC based on mere ratios like you cite here. There were only 32% female upper management and a wide disparity in pay scales. To rebut the assumption that my client discriminated based on gender I brought in the resumes and interview notes from each round if hiring where candidates were considered on their merits (not their gender). I was able to prove that in each round the most qualified candidate was hired based upon an objective (more or less) scoring system. The hiring committees all included at least two females and ironically the female managers rated female applicants much lower than their male counterparts. Needless to say, the case was dismissed.

    Now I of course do not know what the candidate pool looks like for BYU. But you have an implicit assumption that needs to be tested — the females applicants were in each instance equally or more qualified than the male candidate that was hired. Unless you think that female applicants ought to be hired regardless of merit and qualifications, I do not think that the entire story has been told here.

  186. Re MGA’s comment: It is true that BYU is not the gospel, and that is very good. However, BYU is, I think, the single most influential institution in the LDS Church. It is immensely powerful in transmitting LDS intellectual and cultural norms to each new generation. For that reason, it is also potentially the most important lever for cultural change in the church. Visionary leaders who want to effect greater progress in the church at some future time may well look to BYU as the place to begin.

  187. meekmildmagnificent: Congratulations. It sounds like you are truly a magnificent attorney. Perhaps one day we will be privileged to hear your evaluation of relevant data on this question in a court of law. In the meantime, may you always be well compensated, whether by plaintiffs or by defendants!

  188. Andrew in Fukuoka, thank you for relaying his comment. I’m rather taken aback by it.

    Am I interpreting it correctly that he sees Old Skoole’s bullet points as good? She discusses women not applying due to gender problems in the culture at the University, GAs unfairly grilling female applicants, administration not responding to female faculty concerns, and female faculty given lower paying and less career promoting tasks, among others. His comment makes it sound like these are a sort of necessary evil to maintain the cultural status quo and things should just stay that way. Am I misinterpreting this?

    No disrespect to him, and I hope this doesn’t come of as snarky. But I can hear the sweet smile in his words. I’ve heard it many times. It’s very…..benevolently patriarchal and the kindness is belied by the fact that actively suppressing the opportunities of young women is undermining their agency and personal revelation.

  189. Which I’ll add also undermines their Divine Nature and Individual Worth.

  190. meekmildmagnificent: I do not at all doubt your legal prowess. Nor do I have any doubt that BYU’s hiring practices would stand up in any court of law, as they were designed to. The fact that they have obtained an exemption from the Office of Civil Rights allowing them to ask questions, and base their hiring decisions, on criteria that would be illegal for just about any other university in the country means that even this aspect of their hiring practice is entirely legal.

    My argument is that it is not educationally sound–that the huge gender imbalance in their faculty has negative spiritual and intellectual effects on their students and fails to prepare them for the world that they are preparing to go into. And here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter how the gender imbalance got there. It doesn’t matter what the hiring pool looked like, how many Mormon women get Ph.D.s, or whether or not they apply to BYU. The negative effects are negative effects no matter how they were produced.

    If you are walking around with a massive head wound and a hatchet sticking out of your back, that is a problem. It doesn’t matter how it got there, whether it was self-inflicted, or whether anybody can be sued for putting it there. It doesn’t matter whose fault it is. The only important thing is that you get your head treated and the hatchet removed from your back.

    What I am saying is that an 80-20 male-to-female faculty ratio in a school with a 55-45 female-to-male student ratio is the institutional equivalent of a massive head wound and a hatchet sticking out of its back. I am happy to grant that they haven’t broken any laws. They still need to fix it.

  191. As an employment attorney myself, I’ll only add that while we should always zealously advocate for our clients regardless of whether they are in the right, and while a client that has acted legally, albeit unethically or immorally, should prevail under the law, a lawyer who believes that a a legal victory is a vindication of the client’s behavior under principles of ethics, morals, or common sense, is hitting that kool-aid a bit too hard.

  192. Michael–yes, yes, and yes. It isn’t good for the female or the male students. It needs to be fixed.

  193. Michael: I just disagree. Your imagined spiritual ills from favoring more qualified candidates is just so much assertions without substance it seems to me. The exemptions obtained by BYU are religiously based and unless you do not believe in religious exemptions your argument is vacuous. Just what are the “spiritual” effects the “sickness” that comes from hiring the most qualified candidates? I readily admit that I do not know if BYU hires the best candidates; I am only saying that it is quite possible and your figures based on ratios (like the EEOC’s) do not suggest otherwise.

    I would think that the opposite is true – hiring a lesser qualified candidate based on gender is gender discrimination. Being discriminatory based on gender seems more like a spiritual and moral problem than hiring based on qualifications (as Martin Luther King advocated).

    Are you concerned that about 65% of undergraduate students in the US are female? That is a massive imbalance but it does not seem to be unacceptable in academia– and I wonder why more isn’t said about it. Those very institutions that preach gender equality still give preference to female students to balance gender equity even though female students outnumber male students by a wide (1/3) margin. Admittedly BYU has 10% more male undergrads than females — but Berkely is just the opposite and no one even raises an eyebrow. Why?

  194. Oh geez, meekmildmagnificent…the lack of men pursuing higher education is THE problem that has got the full attention and unqualified concern of all of us in the higher-ed enterprise, particularly those of us in the California public higher education system (and having visited Berkeley regularly in my professional capacity, let me tell you, people there are taking this one very seriously). The number of papers, presentation, policies, discussions, and initiatives to address this problem…

    Because it is a huge, Huge, HUGE problem, the ramifications of which betoken terrible things for society in both the short and long term.

    And you know what our best research shows us is one the biggest parts of the problem? Boys don’t have enough male role-models as teachers in the classroom in grades K-12, especially early on, so they have a hard time seeing that the whole education thing is really for them.

    Huh. How about that.

  195. Leona: I am more than willing to be educated about this concern of the vast imbalance between males and females in undergraduate education. I did a search and came up with very little so if you could point me to this concern actually expressed in writing that is published I would be grateful to you.

  196. And BTW Leona, no one is blaming the imbalance on the institutions that still give preferences to females in admissions that I can find.

  197. Another thing Leona. There is a vast amount of research on why women lag in STEM disciplines; but I do not see a single study suggesting that gender discrimination is the cause for the ratio difference (unlike Michael who sees the imbalance in the other direction as a sure sign of spiritual sickness). I look forward to being educated about the studies suggesting that someone has addressed the imbalance at the undergraduate level — so thanks for that if you can.

  198. meekmildmagnificent: It’s of course true that BYU has obtained a religious exemption, one that I find egregious because Merrill Bateman’s claims in his request are not sound doctrine but rather cultural norms, but I don’t see how practices like the one described in this follow up post Kristine A did at Wheat & Tares would be covered by the religious exemption:

    She describes as an administrative assistant at BYU-I being instructed to take a photo of each candidate – shoulders up for men but full body for women – and then throwing away any applications from women who didn’t happen to wear a skirt to the interview. This despite there being no prior request to wear a skirt and no formal dress code requirement to wear skirts. This was simply a random litmus test applied by the administration to weed out women they considered undesirable. It is a gross form of discrimination, a completely unfair test, and simply unethical behavior. It doesn’t fall into the protected activities (namely, grilling women on their marital and family situations) sought in Bateman’s letter.

  199. meekmildmagnificent, I’m not sure what search terms you’re using or which databases. And it’s getting late, and I’m speaking in church tomorrow, and we’re taking the conversation off on a tangent, but for a good introduction with lots of citations to other helpful sources, try:

    _The Rise of Women: The Growing Gender Gap in Education and What it Means for American Schools_ (DiPrete and Bucchman, 2013)

    The lead author is at Columbia–his colleague is at Ohio State, I think. This book is an interesting place to start, although I disagree in part with one of the book’s central arguments. I believe that they’re right that the “feminized space” theory is overblown; however, as I indicated in my comment above, other research seems to indicate the lack of male role models in the early grades DOES make a difference, especially for minority males; here the work of M2C3 (the Minority Male Community College Collaborative) is helpful. Since I’m a community college prof (former administrator), and my college is 81% minority students, I’ve found their work especially helpful (and convincing). Google them and peruse their website if you have time time; I’m not sure how much they’ve published as they are a young enterprise, but Luke Wood at SDSU is doing very important work in this field.

    One other thing you may want to note, on pg. 74 of the book I mention above (and I think you can peruse it on Google Books), the authors mention a survey that was conducted by _Inside Higher Ed_ in Sept. 2011. Of the schools surveyed, over 11% admitted to favoring men in the admissions process (affirmative action) as compared to only 3% of schools who said the same for female applicants. I think the original survey may still be available online if you want to take a look at it. These days, generally speaking, sex-based affirmative action, when it happens at all at the undergrad admissions level, tends to favor men. Though of course not always (there are those 3% who favor women).

    And I’m no where near as knowledgeable about women and STEM as I ought to be. I’m on the liberal arts/social science side of the house. I’m glad you’re interested in these issues–they are very important ones.

  200. Maybee– Yes, “benevolently patriarchal” is a kind way to put it. I quoted him because it seems like that kind of thinking is prevalent among at least a group of people there.

  201. Olde Skool (September 16, 2016 at 6:29 pm):

    Oh, one more thing re: adjuncts: one of the big appeals to a univ. about adjuncts is that if they are kept below a certain hours-per-week line, the univ is off the hook with regard to the ACA: that is, they remain under the legal benchmark for receiving health care benefits. Our dept is (as I think all depts are) prohibited from giving more teaching/courses/hours to some adjuncts who would very much like to work more. Again, these workers are disproportionately women. So much for concern for families.

    Indeed. This rises to the level of a 19th century robber baron. I mean, I’m happy to take at face value the university’s claims that it’s trying really hard to recruit women, but as long as it is simultaneously juggling hours to avoid paying ancillary wage costs for health care then I’m afraid in my ears the protestations ring hollow.

  202. Since my words have been invoked after I posed them, I’d like to respond to one point made by Andrew’s conservative professor friend that has gone unaddressed in subsequent rebuttals to that gentleman: He says, ““What a beautiful thing all those LDS women who could have gotten PhDs decided to do something much more meaningful with their time, such as raise the next generation… My point is, a culture that aligns itself to the needs of children first, and the marriage culture that ensues, rather than the goals of adult men and women, is a very good thing.” I suspect that my children–amazing and brilliant and brave and each with an astonishing capacity for compassion–might object to his suggestion that I have neglected them in pursuit of my own selfish glory. They have been with me every step of the way as I have worked to achieve high-profile professional accomplishments and international standing in my field, and my kids think that my professional success is the coolest thing ever; they have expanded their own ambition to make a difference in the world pretty explicitly because of my example. Prioritizing “the needs of children first,” as I certainly do, doesn’t mean neglecting one’s own talents, for men or for women. There is no one model for “meaningful” parenting.

  203. Tonya barnett says:

    There are so many flaws with the statistics presented in this article I can’t even begin my rebuttal because the first part of my rant would be to address those issues.

  204. How do we account for the applicant pool itself? For example, do we know if BYU is equally willing to hire a non-Mormon Phd as a Mormon phd? How many of the nationwide (50% female) Phd students are LDS-female? is gender, degree type or religious affiliation more important for a hire? Do females equally apply for these tenure track positions,( which typically require research, committee attendence, and work beyond the classroom) as male candidates? Are the female adjuncts employed elsewhere? What degree type and level do adjuncts hold? Do adjuncts qualify for tenure track based on publications and research? Are adjuncts teaching upper division courses or mostly lower division, similar to community colleges, or masters/Phd candidates at large universities?

  205. Jack of Hearts says:

    “My point is, a culture that aligns itself to the needs of children first, and the marriage culture that ensues, rather than the goals of adult men and women, is a very good thing.”
    Not sure if anyone’s pointed this out yet, but I keep coming back to it: The marriage culture that he’s describing, as presently constituted, doesn’t “align itself to the needs of children first . . . rather than the goals of adult men and women.” Currently that culture aligns itself to the needs of children and adult men rather than the goals of women. Of course there are exceptions to this general culture, but the fact that they are exceptions proves the general rule.

  206. thewhimsicalcrochetartist says:

    I’m afraid that everyone wants “equality”. Well, things will never be equal and they are not meant to be that way. I graduated from USU in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering. I had no women professors in engineering, math, computer science, physics etc. There were only 2 women that graduated in EE the year I did. I majored in a field that is still dominated by men. And that is okay. I decided to be a stay at home mom and am very glad that I did. My husband and I raised 4 wonderful, smart, educated children. In fact, my oldest daughter teaches for BYUI as an adjunct with their online courses. She loves it! She can stay at home with her children and work in her field.
    I can’t argue the fact that there are smaller amounts of women teaching at the BYU campuses. I don’t know if those numbers included the adjuncts that teach for the online courses at BYUI either.

    As to some of the comments of the paper cited, “It tells our daughters that their educational potential is limited. When they go through two, three, or four years of college without ever being taught by other women, they internalize a belief that men are smarter and more capable than they are—and that they do not have the natural ability or cultural support to achieve their highest educational and intellectual aspirations.

    This is unconscionable.

    But it tells our sons something even worse. When we give them an environment in which virtually all of the people with low status and little institutional power are women, while all of the people with high status and great institutional power are men, we are showing them that there is no reason that they need to take women seriously. They need only see men as experts or as people with authority. We are therefore playing into an entitlement that young men often already feel. We are telling them that women exist to serve their needs.

    And this is deplorable.”

    Really? These comments are his beliefs. I never felt that way as I went to school. I knew what I was capable of. I am smart and if I wanted to, I could work in the demanding, crazy world of engineering. I married an engineer, so I see what it is like. My children had both men and women professors at BYU. My son worked with several women in the department of food science. I don’t believe any of my children have this point of view because of lack of women teachers in the university environment. Yes, in the real world, many areas are still either more male or female dominated, but we do not need to cry about it. Teach our children to love the Lord, love to learn and know that they are capable of becoming like Him.

  207. PhD in Provo says:

    I am sitting in Provo, five minutes from BYU, where my husband is a tenured professor. I completed my PhD seven years ago, while raising three children. I finished just after the economic collapse and took advantage of the nationwide hiring freeze to have my fourth and last child. I am a respected scholar in my field. I won a prestigious national fellowship two years ago. I have applied several times to teach at BYU. I have been a finalist three times. I can’t break in. For the record, I did not go to BYU; I went to the same Ivy-League institution for my undergraduate work as I did for my PhD. From my (albeit limited) experience, it seems that BYU departments, if they are trying to hire a woman at all, seem to want to hire their own former students. It’s like they trust them more (or perhaps they like that the women will always see them as their superiors?). I agree with you that BYU has issues with Mormon mothers serving in high-prestige, higher-paying jobs. The first thing said to me in one of my college-level interviews was, “So, four children?” This year the department in which I was a finalist decided to hire its former student, an unmarried woman who is still finishing her PhD (and will, of course, *need* a job when she finishes). I could go on an on about my experiences, but I won’t. The whole situation is extremely depressing. This past year my husband’s department did not even *respond* to my application! (It likewise hired its former student, also a single woman who *needs* a job.) This is the same department that turned down another Ivy-League educated mother (who is also a minority!), after someone in the faculty meeting asserted, “She won’t like it here.” Don’t get me wrong: I cheer whenever BYU hires any woman, and I certainly don’t want to drive a wedge between those who are married and those who aren’t. But I do think it’s a problem for BYU’s faculty to be made up almost entirely of former BYU students (particularly its female faculty), and for mothers with PhDs not to get the jobs because the departments who sent their students out to get PhDs feel a responsibility to give those jobs to the men with families and women without families. A professor in another department recently lamented to me how hard it is for them to find qualified women with PhDs; this same department had turned down my married sister-in-law for a tenure-track position (although they called and offered her a position as adjunct). There are *lots* of issues, but my main conclusion is that BYU (as an institution, as individual departments, and, often, as individual faculty members) has a real inferiority-superiority complex, and it plays out in many damaging ways. Thanks for writing this article!

  208. Thank you so much for this post. It sheds light on a difficult situation indicative of our larger cultural problem that hobbles so much of our talents. I am not an academic but have worked since my graduation at BYU-P in 2006. When I was younger I also believed that part-time work or a more “flexible” work schedule would better support for my family life. I had limited examples of women doing otherwise so. Thanks to the field I work in, for several years I enjoyed a full time career position and would occasionally accept freelance jobs as well. After my second child, I quit my full time job believing that freelancing and contracting would be a better arrangement “for my family.” I quickly learned that being a hired gun without benefits and institutional status came at a high cost, with greater instability and less income. (SO SO obvious now, why would I have believed otherwise?? Youthful folly.) This negatively impacted my family as I found myself working just as many hours or more but for less pay and none of the benefits and structure that would have helped me and my young kids enjoy the reduced stress of a safety net and routine. In the long run, careers go a long way to happy, healthy families. I live in a diverse metropolitan area and all around me I see lots of different families making home and work responsibilities happen. I have learned there are a variety of options to help care for family and get work done. It’s inspiring. I wish I could have experienced that inspiration in my own culture instead of learning after making so many mistakes.

  209. Thanks for raising this, Michael. I’m reminded of a conversation I had 20 years ago with a young woman in my ward who was married to a dental student. It went something like this: She: “Does your husband go to University X?” Me: “No, actually, he teaches at College Z, across town.” She: “Then why are you in this ward?” Me: “Because I’m in law school here.” She: [slack-jawed stare of incomprehension].

  210. Thanks Leona. After some more looking I am more baffled than ever at several PAC-12 schools that one one had say the male-female imbalance that so far favors females is a great concern but see on their admissions criteria that females still receive preferences for diversity’s sake. I am just baffled by the split personality disorder that seems to control these issues.