Westminster College officials think the state's statistics on female faculty don't show the whole picture.
At the state Board of Regents meeting in late March, the Office of Higher Education released figures reporting Utah had made progress in hiring female faculty members but was still behind the national average.The report focused on the state's nine public colleges and universities and did not include numbers for two major private institutions - Westminster College and Brigham Young University.
Westminster is the state's leading institution in hiring female faculty. Women make up 42.7 percent of the 75 full-time Westminster faculty. That compares to 26 percent at the public institutions and 28 percent nationally.
Westminster also has 75 part-time faculty, many of whom are women, but they are not included in the averages.
BYU, on the other hand, falls behind both the state and national averages. Women make up almost 18 percent - or 241 of the 1,365 faculty - at the LDS Church-owned school.
The percentages at some of Utah's public institutions aren't much higher. They are: Utah State University, 21 percent; University of Utah, 22 percent; Southern Utah University, 23 percent; Dixie College, 24 percent; Snow College, 26 percent; Utah Valley Community College, 27 percent; College of Eastern Utah, 30 percent; Weber State University, 31 percent; and Salt Lake Community College, 39 percent.
Westminster President Charles Dick said the college's higher percentage of female faculty comes from a strong recruiting effort. Each faculty position is advertised nationally.
He said the small college of 2,100 students hasn't encountered any problems in finding good, qualified women for faculty positions.
Like female faculty statewide and nationwide, the bulk of Westminster's women faculty are concentrated at lesser faculty ranks of assistant professor and associate professor. Only 5.3 percent of the Westminster female faculty are professors.
Dick said the reason for fewer female professors is that both men and women are hired at the lesser ranks and then are promoted. It takes years for a faculty member to become a professor, and women often start up the ladder later.
The college president said he won't be satisfied with the male/female ratio at Westminster until the percentage of women faculty reaches 50 percent. Slightly more than 50 percent of Westminster's student body is female.
"We'd like parity with faculty and women students," Dick said.
A BYU official said the school doesn't specifically recruit women, but the school's hiring efforts give equal opportunity to male and female applicants.
"We look for the best faculty member we can find," said Dennis Thompson, associate academic vice president.
Thompson said national studies have shown that smaller colleges, institutions in larger cities and colleges with a large number of part-time faculty are more likely to have a higher percentage of women.
Smaller colleges aren't as likely to require faculty to possess doctorates, institutions in larger cities have a higher availability of jobs for spouses, and part-time faculty often aren't required to have the same academic qualifications as full-time faculty, he said.
BYU, which has about 29,000 students, has less than 100 part-time faculty, and more than 50 percent of them are women, he said.
Thompson said BYU isn't seeking to increase the number of women faculty, but as more women get graduate degrees and enter the academic work force, the percentage will gradually increase.
Percentages of faculty at Utah's private colleges who are women:
Westminster College 42.7 percent
Brigham Young University 17.7 percent
State average 26 percent
National average 28 pecent