The Full Professor Glass Ceiling at CU Boulder Engineering

I was just promoted this summer, Jun 2015, to full professor at CU Boulder Engineering in the Mechanical Engineering (ME) Department, College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS).  It was a significant accomplishment for me. I worked hard for this position and pursued it both for personal and professional reasons, as well as for future generations of women who will come after me.  And I hope there will be more, and that they will experience more equity, support and tolerance.

I am sure these statistics are not unique.  Other engineering schools probably report similarly sad statistics when it comes to numbers of female full professors.  Here is what the gender break-down looked like at CU Boulder for 2014 (latest year data is available):

Total Tenure-Tenure Track Faculty in CEAS: 179

  • Total Full Professors in CEAS: 83
    • 71 males (86%) and 12 females (14%)
  • Total Associate Professors in CEAS: 50
    • 39 males (78%) and 11 females (22%)
  • Total Assistant Professors in CEAS: 46
    • 37 males (80%) and 9 females (20%)

Total Tenure-Track Faculty in ME: 29

  • Total Full Professors in ME: 10
    • 9 males (90%) and 1 female (10%)
  • Total Associate Professors in ME: 12
    • 8 males (67%) and 4 females (33%)
  • Total Assistant Professors in ME: 7
    • 7 males (100%) and 0 females (0%)

We also have Teaching Faculty in ME, 9 of which are male (82%) and 2 female (8%). More specifically two female instructors teach along with 5 male instructors at the CU Boulder campus (30% female); the four other male instructors teach at our Colorado Mesa University location (0% female).

CU Boulder engineering students this year are overall 25% female undergrad. However it is 16% overall female undergrad in Mechanical Engineering. And this number has been holding steady in ME: 2012-2014 = 15% female, 2015 =16% female. Note that the freshman class in engineering this year is 30% female, the highest it’s ever been!

In 2015, I became the 2nd female full professor in ME.  During the 2014-2015 year we hired 4 new faculty, and none were women.  What will it take to recognize that a diverse faculty is vital, and to have the faculty fight for diversity in an engineering college?