Tenure Decisions at Southern Cal Strongly Favor White Men, Data in a Rejected Candidate’s Complaint Suggest

A female professor at the University of Southern California has filed a federal discrimination complaint against the institution, saying that the decision this year to deny her tenure fits a longstanding pattern in the university’s humanities and social-sciences departments of promoting white men at much higher rates than women and members of minority groups.

Mai’a K. Davis Cross, an assistant professor of international relations, is of native Hawaiian and Asian ancestry. Her complaint, filed this month with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, cites data she collected with a colleague in the political-science department. The data show that 92 percent of white men who were considered for tenure from 1998 to 2012 in the social-sciences and humanities departments were awarded it. That compares with 55 percent of women and professors from minority groups who worked in the same departments during that period, according to documents filed with the EEOC.

Ms. Cross’s tenure application was supported by her department and the faculty but was ultimately denied when “senior administrators sought unauthorized and improper input from scholars outside Cross’s discipline,” her lawyer says in a news release that details Ms. Cross’s complaint. He also says that the complaint states that Ms. Cross met the institution’s criteria for earning tenure and that her evaluations in the years leading up to her tenure denial gave her the highest of ratings.

Ms. Cross is quoted in the news release as saying that she filed her complaint “to correct the unfair damage to my career and to help assure that women and minority candidates will have the same chance to earn tenure as do their white, male colleagues.” <Read more.>

Via Audrey Williams June, The Chronicle of Higher Ed.