The number of women applying to academic posts is "worryingly low" at some of Cambridge University's schools, a report into the university's equal opportunities performance has found, writes Phil Baty.
The report by the university council shows a "disappointingly low rate of applications from women for offices in all general board institutions."
"Rates of applications from women I remain worryingly low in physical sciences and technology," said the report, part of an annual monitoring process, that measures the university's progress in meeting voluntary targets to improve women's representation under the Opportunity 2000 Campaign.
Only in the school of humanities does the proportion of applications from women approach 50 per cent. Women's representation at Cambridge is low in all areas, from undergraduate students to non-academic posts and research posts. In 1996-97 45.3 per cent of undergraduates were women, up from 44.2 per cent the previous year. Among postgraduates, only 41 per cent were women.
In academic posts, women's representation decreases in proportion to the seniority of the post. In 1997, only 5.9 per cent of professors were women, down from 6 per cent in 1996. Among readers, there are 11.8 per cent women, and among lecturers there are 15.6 per cent.
But the situation is improving. Women are appointed in "slightly higher proportions than those in which they apply for academic offices", the report said.
Cambridge is working on a series of 30 measurable goals, from recruitment to childcare, designed to "increase the quality and quantity of women's participation in the workforce".