Female students want more female professors as mentors


BYU junior Addie Erickson switched majors from animation to media arts last year. Although she said the programs are very different, they have one thing in common: there is only one female professor on staff.

BYU Enrollment Services confirmed 51% of the student body is female while 49% is male. Female students have held a slim majority for the last year. For female professors on campus, the numbers tell a very different story.

In 2020, BYU media relations manager Todd Hollingshead confirmed that 36% of professors were women.

Erickson said the disparity between the number of female professors and female students means it’s hard to find a female professor for mentorship.

“I honestly didn’t meet any of the female faculty (in my major classes),” Erickson said. “It’s been hard to really find people.”

She feels having a limited number of female professors limits the opportunity women have to feel supported in their programs.

“It’s not enough for one woman to be there,” Erickson said. “We do need more support and women (on campus) make up 50% or more of the population.”

The College of Humanities released a statement calling on the university and students to “recognize the extra demands placed upon female faculty to do ‘professional housekeeping’ or emotional labor, particularly in their informal mentoring of students.”

Women professors at BYU help female students understand their professional options and give examples on how to balance family and career.

“I have met so many incredible women who one, have really strong family values but who are also so smart and so driven,” human development major Rachel Leifson said. “They’ve been great examples.”

Leifson said learning from her female professors’ experiences inspires her.

Early mentorship from a female professor would inspire women in Erickson’s program to feel empowered to go into film, she said.

“It would be helpful as a woman who is starting in that career to see a woman who has been successful and can show me that I have the ability to do what I want to do,” Erickson said.

She added increasing the number of women professors in these programs will help women feel they have a place in their majors.

“Just a little bit more (representation would) help us feel like we are a part and a key role in the major that we are in,” Erickson said.

The directory websites for each college list all male and female professors as well as contact information for students.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email