women had little power to influence group decision making, a version of the critical mass hypothesis. In departments with some women—between 16 and 35 percent, women could form alliances and coalitions to influence the group. When women achieved balance in a department, job hires became less about equity, and men and women were hired at equal rates.
Female applicants may also take the presence of women on the search committee as a sign of a more female-friendly environment. At meetings of professional societies and as a focal point of hiring efforts, the search committees may be very visible, and having a female search committee chair may lead to greater efforts to recruit female applicants.
It may be more difficult to balance family and career at a Research I institution (Sears, 2003), which may discourage women from applying for RI positions. Marital status and the presence of children are often mentioned as critical to assessing gender differences.
Institutions with spousal support policies and child-care and family leave policies might be more attractive to female doctorate recipients. For example, readily available child care may make a greater positive difference in the lives of female faculty than male faculty. Leave policies are another institutional policy that may affect female and male faculty differently. Two types of leave include maternity leave, which is a standard benefit at universities, and longer, parental leave (Yoest, 2004). Some universities also have workload relief policies (typically a reduction in teaching and service responsibilities) for new parents. Spousal policies can take on a number of different forms. Wolf-Wendel et al. (2003:163) suggested six broad approaches to “help spouses and partners of academics find suitable employment.” These were relocation assistance, hiring a spouse or partner into an administrative position, hiring a spouse or partner into a non-tenure-track position, creating a shared position, creating a joint position with a nearby institution, or creating a tenure-track position for the spouse or partner. Again, spousal policies were most relevant to hiring issues. The availability of these policies may affect the probability that women will apply for particular positions.
Public universities are often thought to do more to foster diversity than private institutions. This is because these institutions have more state oversight and may be more transparent. Insofar as this is widely believed, women may be more likely to apply for positions at public than at private research universities.