pictures emerged from Councilwoman Helen Marshall’s April 10th
hearing on the status of women in CUNY.
They varied with the source of the information.
Mirrer, CUNY’s Executive Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs,
testified that the University is comfortable for women, a place of
“extraordinary hospitality to women scholars, truly exceptional
in the United States.” In reply to Councilman Bill Perkins’s
question on whether women are in lower level positions, Mirrer
cited CUNY’s 643 women full professors, and said that a third of
distinguished professors are women.
CUNY’s Affirmative Action Summary Data of Fall 2000, consulted
after the hearing, presents a different portrait for both faculty
and staff. Volume I for Instructional Staff turns up a problem
that Mirrer did not discuss: the higher the full-time faculty
rank, the fewer the women. Women are actually 26 percent of
distinguished professors, not one-third as Mirrer stated. They are
32 percent of full professors, 45 percent of associates, 51
percent of assistants, 57 percent of instructors and 53 percent of
pattern recalls 1983, when Judge Lee P. Gagliardi of United States
District Court in Manhattan upheld the CUNY Women’s
Coalition’s charge that the university discriminates against
women in the instructional staff. This class-action suit was known
as the Melani case, after lead plaintiff Professor Lilia Melani of
Brooklyn College, and the size of the $7.5 million award was
unprecedented in university discrimination litigation. Despite
that cost plus the expense of fighting the suit for 10 years, the
biased outcome of hiring, tenure and promotion persists.
Annette Robinson’s question on diversity elicited
Vice-Chancellor Mirrer’s explanation that the research is
holistic. But this does not mean that CUNY’s administration
examines how identities of gender, race and ethnicity are
intertwined. CUNY’s data keeps these categories separate: it
counts females and males apart from seven ethnic
categories—White, Black, Hispanic, Puerto Rican, Asian/Pacific
Islander, Italian American, American Indian/Alaskan Native—and
avoids the word “race” altogether.
to the effect of intersecting identities can be found in CUNY’s
data. Considering all those referred to by CUNY as
“minorities” together, the data reveal 15 percent
distinguished, 23 percent full, 35 percent associate and 39
percent assistant professors; 43 percent are instructors and 56
percent are lecturers.
to the Fall 2000 report, women are 44 percent of all faculty;
minorities even less, 32 percent. The stratification in ranks for
both groups applies university-wide, and spikes on some campuses.
evident whether they are full or part-time adjunct faculty, in the
Dean and Administrator Series or College Presidents. The
Chancellory group diverges from the pattern with 56 percent women
and 44 percent minorities. However, policy-making functions vary
considerably at this level. The chancellor and vice-chancellor for
academic affairs may influence the policies that the trustees
appoint them to implement; the other seven mainly see to
compliance with laws and budget decisions.
A form of
subranking surfaces in CUNY’s tiered college system and in
employment full- or part-time faculty. More women are full-timers
at community than at senior colleges (49 and 40 percent
respectively). They are more apt to be adjuncts at the latter (54
percent) than at the former (45 percent). The magnitude of
difference for minority full-timers in the two tiers is about the
same as for women, 39 percent, in the lower and less, 31 percent,
in the upper. As part-timers, the difference is smaller but in the
same direction. As adjuncts minorities are 34 percent of the
faculty in the lower tier campuses and 37 percent in the upper.
The community colleges have only one distinguished professor, a
non-minority male, and no visiting professors.
minorities are more represented among non-faculty instructional
staff. They are almost half of the top level of the Higher
Education Officer series, 46 and 47 percent respectively; in the
three lower ranks they comprise the majority, peaking at 69 and 68
percent respectively in the lowest. At the hearing, Emily
Nammacher, retired last year from Lehman as Associate Director of
Admissions, a job title in the series, testified that these
employees are colleges’ workhorses and that women’s positions
have deteriorated since 1990 at Lehman. In the College Lab
Technician series, minorities are the majority in all levels
university-wide. Evidently most are men; women peak at 31 percent
of the lowest rank.
presented at the April 10 City Council hearing was thin on
CUNY’s instructional staff. Completely undiscussed was the
status of women among employees defined by CUNY as “classified
staff”—clerical, secretarial and building workers, and so on.
Students were also not discussed in much depth. CUNY’s written
testimony defines women’s studies programs not only as majors
and minors in a few colleges and a couple of courses in a few
departments on a few campuses, but also as including token events
during Women’s History month.
hearing was not well attended and few people testified, perhaps in
part because it was scheduled during CUNY’s spring break. As a
result, the City Council will hold a second hearing in June, at
which a fuller picture of women in CUNY may emerge.
would like to attend or testify at the June City Council hearing
on the status of women in CUNY, contact Councilwoman Helen
Marshall’s office at 718-507-0813.