By Hanna McLeod
A recent Poets & Quants article brought attention to a “historic gathering” of 10 female deans of leading business schools, which resulted in the articulation of a mission for increasing the number of women within the business school ecosystem, particularly at the student, faculty, and dean levels. One area that the article brings attention to is the “leaky pipeline” of female faculty, in addition to fewer promotions, support, and tenure achievements in comparison to their male counterparts.
In the past, I have explored the influence of female leadership on female student enrollment at business schools, but the article linked to above made me wonder whether schools led by female deans hire more female than male new doctorate faculty. I used our most recent Deans Survey to identify a list of female deans at AACSB-accredited schools who also provided data in the 2014-15 Salary Survey, in order to compare respective schools’ new hire data for new doctorates. Below is what I found:
The data might not be as compelling as what some of us would expect to see; however, the proportion of female new doctorate hires is slightly higher among female-led schools in comparison to male-led schools, according to these data. I decided to plunge a bit deeper into the data: although the number of male new doctorate hires is 21 percent greater than female new doctorate hires within this set of schools, is the proportion of female to male new doctorate hires greater at female-led schools?
The data show that regardless of whether a school has a male or female dean, a greater proportion of schools hire more male new doctorates than female new doctorates. Nonetheless, a significantly larger proportion of female-led schools reported female new doctorate hires outnumbering their male counterparts, at 39.1 percent compared to 32.8 percent of male-led schools. Further, if we combine the data of schools reporting more female new doctorate hires together with those reporting equal representation, 52.1 percent of female-led schools reported doing so, compared to 50.7 percent of male-led schools. Again, we don’t see a very pronounced difference; but my colleague Colin shared the observation that perhaps it is a positive indicator that gender bias is not a significant factor in hiring the most qualified candidates, regardless of whether the dean is male or female. It’s worth further noting that although final hiring decisions are often made by the dean, the recommended finalists usually come from a committee composed of faculty and then passes through to a department chair.
AACSB Senior Vice President, Accreditation and Member Services, Christine Clements, who served as dean for 12 years at the College of Business and Economics and University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, prior to joining AACSB, shared some helpful insights regarding gender in hiring decisions. She shared with me that in many schools the level of talent of the candidate – regardless of gender, race, and ethnicity – serves as the critical factor for hiring. She adds, “the bigger issue for female faculty often is department cultures and how they are supported once they arrive.”
As the 2014-15 Deans Survey shows, nearly 20 percent of deans at AACSB member schools are female – a jump from 18 percent in 2011-12 survey results. As female representation in business school leadership continues to rise, perhaps we will be more likely to see similar impact across the business school ecosystem reflecting what that recent gathering of 10 female deans envisioned for the future of women in business schools.