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CAUT Bulletin Archives

December 2003

Reality Check for Women in the Contract Academic Workforce

Myth: Most contract academics are women.
Fact: Men & women hold almost the same number of contract academic postions.
According to a survey conducted from 1990 to 1992 of 20 universities across Canada, men and women are almost equally represented in the per course contract academic workforce (Rajagopal, 2002). Similarly, a 2001-2002 Statistics Canada report showed that almost 50 per cent of the non tenure-track limited-term positions in universities and colleges were held by women (CAUT, 2003).

However, there are substantial income differences. Rajagopal reports the average annual earn-ings of part-time women faculty at $30,000-$39,000, while that of men's is $50,000-$59,000. This difference is despite a higher workload for women contract academics - 33 per cent teach three or more courses, compared with a male average of 27 per cent. And because female part-timers teach more than male part-timers, they have less time for research, making them less competitive for full-time tenure-track positions when they become available.

There are also differences between the number of men and women employed as contract academics in various disciplines. For example, faculties like health and humanities have a higher proportion of women (57% and 54%), while in law, business administration and applied sciences only 24.7%, 23.9% and 18.6% of part-timers are women (Rajagopal). Not so coincidentally, health sciences and the humanities are also the academic units that receive less outside funding than those with a higher concentration of male faculty.

In addition, women are more highly concentrated in contract academic positions than in tenured or tenure-track positions. Only 40 per cent of tenure-track positions are held by women. Just 25 per cent of tenured professors are women.

Article contributed by CAUT's Contract Academic Staff Committee.

CAUT. (2003). CAUT Almanac of Post-Secondary Education in Canada.
Rajagopal, I. (2002).
Hidden Academics: Contract Faculty in Canadian Universities. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.