Resignation of Penn Faculty

Information from the Office of the Provost, concerning resignation of SAS faculty for the period 1997-2000, indicated that 54% (13/24) of the men who resigned were tenured, while 69% of the women were tenured. Information obtained from the School of Medicine for FY1999-2000 indicated that, excluding retirements, deaths, and involuntary terminations, 60 Standing Faculty resigned during that year. Medical School resignations were primarily from the Assistant Professor rank. Among the 36 male faculty who resigned from the Medical School, 56% were Assistant Professors-CE and 14% were tenure-track Assistant Professors. Among the 24 female faculty who resigned, 83% were Assistant Professors-CE and 12.5% were tenure-track Assistant Professors. Since women represented only 32% of all Assistant Professors in the Medical School, the resignation rate among women Assistant Professors in the Medical School (23/176) corresponded to a loss of 13% of all female Assistant Professors in the school during the one year period, while there was a loss of 7% (25/368) of the male Assistant Professors.

In 1997, the Faculty Senate considered the possibility that women faculty might be leaving in disproportionate numbers, and requested that exit questionnaires be sent to all departing faculty to determine reasons why they left Penn (Almanac 43(34); May 3,1997). Unfortunately, the response rate to these questionnaires has been poor; we estimate that among 40 faculty in SAS who left Penn during 1997-2000, only 38% of the women and 25% of the men returned the questionnaires. Extrapolating from the School of Medicine data for FY1999-2000, we estimate a questionnaire response rate of about 30% for men and 15% for women who left the Medical School Standing Faculty. All of the 9 questionnaires returned from women who left the Medical School were from Assistant Professors-CE.

While the low response rate precludes a rigorous statistical analysis of the questionnaires, some trends were evident. Among the 6 male and 6 female responses to the questionnaire from SAS ex-faculty, 4 men and 4 women had tenure when they left Penn. An additional 8 responses were received from faculty who had resigned from other non-Medical schools. Among the 20 non-Medical faculty respondents, the primary reasons for their departure were similar for men and women: 40% left for better positions, 30% to join their spouse or partner, 20% cited dissatisfaction with status or working conditions at Penn and 10% were terminated. A similar pattern of reasons existed among 19 male respondents who had been Clinician Educators in the Medical School: 12 (63%) left for a better job, 3 because of dissatisfaction, 2 to join spouse/partner, and 2 were terminated. However, the major reason cited by the 9 departing women Assistant Professors-CE was job dissatisfaction; 78% listed this as either the primary or a major contributing factor. Since problems in finding suitable positions for spouses is often cited as a reason why it is more difficult to hire women faculty than men faculty, it was interesting to note that the proportion of faculty citing relocation to join spouse/partner as a primary reason for resignation was comparable for men and women.