Published Date

May 17, 2005

Resource Type

AHA Archival Document

Prepared for the AHA Committee on Women Historians by Elizabeth Lunbeck

 

Introduction

More than twenty years after women began to earn history Ph.D.’s in significant numbers, significant gender disparities of the sort that many believed would be ameliorated by women’s entry into the ranks continue to plague departments and the profession as a whole. In 1979, women constituted just 15.6 percent of newly minted history Ph.D.’s and 5.9 percent of full professors of history. By 1999, women amounted to 40 percent of those awarded the Ph.D., and were even slightly advantaged in obtaining entry-level jobs. These figures document a sea change in the profession with respect to gender, and mirror what researchers have found across the disciplines—women, in large numbers, have gained access to professional and scholarly careers that were once largely the preserve of white men. Through the 1970s and 1980s, more and more women entered the career pipeline of graduate training, and optimists assumed that in time, allowing for some fifteen to twenty years for their ascent up the career ladder, the gender distribution of those in highest ranks of the profession—the full professoriate—would reflect the proportions in which their cohort had received the Ph.D.