Seeking Changes in Ivory Towers: The Impact of Gender Quotas on Female Academics in Higher Education

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This study examines whether and how gender quotas achieve their primary objective to increase female representation in university faculty positions. Using a longitudinal dataset from South Korea (2001–2017), this study highlights vertical and horizontal segregation in academia and the differential impact of quotas on faculty composition across academic ranks and disciplines. The data shows that gender quotas have a positive effect on female faculty representation at all levels of tenured and tenure-track professorship but not for leadership and higher administrative positions such as Dean, Provost, and President. The findings suggest that uniformly implemented gender quotas focusing on entry-level faculty may not be sufficient to improve gender inequality in higher levels of the academic hierarchy. The mixed evidence as to whether gender quotas are effective at closing the gap across and within academic disciplines implies that the effect of these quotas can be limited and slow-acting in the areas where women are severely underrepresented.