The percentage of Utah female college faculty members continues to inch upward, but it's still below the national average.

At Utah's nine public colleges and universities, 622 faculty members, or 25.65 percent of 2,425 total faculty, are women. That's a gain of 50 female faculty members over last year, says a report released to the state Board of Regents Friday.Nationally, however, women hold 28 percent of the faculty positions at colleges and universities.

Despite being behind the national average, the Utah higher education system has gained 222 additional women since 1980 when officials began preparing their annual report on women faculty. Then, only 18.2 percent of faculty members were female.

Besides occupying a smaller percentage of total positions, fewer Utah women have the rank of full professor or have tenured positions. They also earn less money.

In 1980, there were only 26 faculty members who had the rank of full professors; there are now 68.

"I wish we had 168, but that's real growth in 10 years," said Lou Jean Flint, academic affairs officer for the commissioner of higher education, who prepared the report.

Women also have fewer tenured positions in all academic ranks, from instructor to full professor. Tenure essentially ends a professor's probationary status and protects him or her from being fired without cause.

Flint pointed out what she hopes is an anomaly in this year's report: Of the 13 men receiving the full professor rank, all received tenure. Of the seven women who became full professors, only four were granted tenure.

Salary differences between male and female faculty continue to persist in Utah and nationally. Systemwide, Utah female faculty members earn an average of $29,968 or 78.7 percent of the $38,061 earned by their male counterparts.

College of Eastern Utah President Michael Petersen said the differences in experience and academic degrees, not gender, are the reasons for differences in male/female salaries.

The largest percentages of female faculty members are clustered in the lesser faculty ranks of instructor and assistant professor. This is true nationally, too.

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Female faculty

University of Utah 21.5

Utah State University 21.2

Weber State University 31.6

Southern Utah U. 23.3

Snow College 26.09

Dixie College 24.6

College of Eastern Utah 30.2

Utah Valley C.C. 26.7

Salt Lake C.C. 39.3