This Women’s History Month, Coastal women ask for more


Women’s History Month gives Coastal’s community a reason to stop and think about the many contributions women have made to society, Spadoni College Dean Holley Tankersley said.  


“As a young woman, I didn’t pay much attention to Women’s History Month,” Tankersley said.  


However, as a professional, she understands why women’s success needs to be communicated and celebrated.   


Initiatives like the student group Women of Color (WOC) are only the beginning of ways that Coastal is building on diversity and inclusion, said Intercultural and Inclusion Student Services (IISS) student ambassador Keianna Benson. 


However, Coastal women interviewed for this story agree that while these initiatives and programs are a start, the university still has far to go when it comes to the representation of women. 


This year, men employed as full-time faculty at Coastal made an average of $2,600 more than women who are employed here as full-time faculty members. On top of the salary difference, there are overall more men in tenure track faculty positions than women. These positions come with higher salaries and more opportunities.   


Tankersley said she does her best to encourage and elevate her fellow women faculty into pursuing leadership positions.  


“Sometimes women in academia experience barriers to tenure and promotion, so they might be hesitant to give up their research time or their teaching time in order to do administrative work because they might be concerned about not making that next level of promotion,” Tankersley said. 


Senior Lecturer Kim Schumacher said she tries to model confidence for her students who are women. She teaches journalism, and she said it bothers her that women journalists are objectified.  


“I want to make sure that women feel strong in those positions,” Schumacher said. “I want them to feel confident in themselves.”  


As of 2021, the top 13 highest-paid employees at Coastal were men, according to the South Carolina Department of Administration’s state salaries query website. The highest-paid university employee is football coach Jamie Chadwell, whose salary is $871,250. The top five highest-paid employees are men who coach athletic teams. Coastal President Michael Benson is 6th, with a base salary of $295,000.  


There are two women in the top 15 highest salaries. Women’s basketball coach Jaida Williams ranks 14th, and newly appointed Wall College Dean Erika Small ranks 15th.  


The university has never had a female president or provost. While it is still relatively young, this fact is telling of who Coastal chooses to have in the most powerful positions on campus. 


According to the Fall 2021 university factbook, there are 189 men on faculty who are in tenured or tenure track positions. While only 138 of women are in those same positions. This means there are 27% more men than women serving as professors, associate professors or assistant professors. 


In contrast, there are 74 women working in non-tenure full-time faculty positions as lecturers and instructors. There are 63 men in the same positions.  


Women’s and Gender Studies Director Ina Seethaler said women are much more likely to be in entry-level positions, like an adjunct, which she said is a huge issue in higher education. These jobs come with lower pay, more classes, and uncertainty.    


“There’s this persistent narrative that women are these nurturing beings and that also a lot of the work they do doesn’t necessarily need a lot of skills and doesn’t need to be paid a lot,” Seethaler said “If you look at our student support staff, and if you look at who is in charge of a lot of the day to day work in supporting students, there’s a big gender imbalance.”