The Effectiveness of Institutional Intervention on Minimizing Demographic Inertia and Improving the Representation of Women Faculty in Higher Education

Amanda V. Bakian, Kimberly A. Sullivan


Women remain under-represented among full time tenured/tenure-track science and engineering faculty at research universities in the United States despite their increasing availability in the employment pool. In response, intervention strategies aimed at boosting their participation have been introduced at university and national levels. Efforts to improve women’s representation may be challenged by demographic inertia, the tendency for the maintenance of the entrenched population structure that favors men despite improvements in women’s vital parameters. Here, we investigate the effectiveness of the U.S. National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE institutional intervention program at curtailing demographic inertia at a research university dubbed ‘Snow State University’ (SSU). We found that demographic inertia’s impact on women’s representation was lessened during ADVANCE. Yet to achieve long-lasting improvements in women’s representation, universities will need to increase their recruitment of women at the associate and full professor ranks while maintaining promotion and retention probabilities favorable to women over the long-term.


Demographic inertia; Matrix population models; Faculty women; Gender inequality; Institutional intervention; Women scientists and engineers; The National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE program

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