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Reply to The Gender Equity Report


In June 2000, Provost Barchi and then Faculty Senate Chair Larry Gross, convened a joint faculty/administration committee to undertake a systematic review of the status of women faculty at the University of Pennsylvania. Their final report has been submitted and is published in this issue.

Gender Equity at Penn

The "good news" is that Penn's persistent focus since 1970 on gender equity issues among faculty has resulted in "marked progress" in increasing the percentage of women among the University's faculty (rising from 7% to 24% University-wide). This reflects the notable gains that the University has made in the hiring of women faculty over the past 10 years. The result is roughly consistent with changes at Penn's peer institutions during this period.

In addition, the study found few instances of statistically significant salary differentials between women and men. Also, women have entered administrative positions in the schools and the University administration in rough proportion to their numbers in the University's faculty. And in areas such as the awarding of University Research Foundation grants and Lindback Teaching Awards, women faculty have achieved and maintain parity with their male colleagues.

The challenge now is that Penn, like most of its peers, seems to have reached a "plateau" in achieving gender equity among the faculty. Many academic departments do a superb job of recruiting, hiring, supporting, and promoting women faculty, but others--despite our longstanding institutional commitment--still do not.

Further, while the University has made considerable headway in appointing women to University and mid-level administrative posts, women are significantly under-represented among department chairs. Women also tend to be under-represented among holders of endowed and term chairs. Finally, while there was not a significant overall difference in salaries between men and women, the fact that some specific disciplinary groupings show women with lower salaries is a matter of concern.

Although Penn women faculty are more satisfied with some aspects of their work than women faculty nationally, survey data showed that most women faculty and many of their male colleagues feel that women are at a disadvantage in the University and--despite data to the contrary--many women continue to believe they are paid less than their male counterparts.

Taken together, findings such as these buttress the committee's conclusion that gender equity "problems reside primarily in individual departments rather than at the University level." Thus, their suggestion that we work more closely with the deans to develop ways to correct these departmental problems seems appropriate, and we intend to do so.

Penn's Commitment

As far back as the Cohn Commission report of 1971, Penn has made an institutional commitment to gender equity amongst its faculty. In the Agenda for Excellence (1995), Penn re-committed itself to "attract and retain underrepresented minority and women faculty."

Based on these commitments, persistent efforts have gotten us this far--but it will require more to improve beyond this point in some instances and to avoid slipping backwards.

Next Steps

Therefore, along with our own efforts we are asking the Deans and department chairs to be responsible for redoubling their efforts to assure gender equity among the faculty. Specifically, we will:

  • Make gender equity (including the accurate perception of equity) again a priority of the new University strategic plan now being prepared and ask that the Deans make it a major priority in their new strategic plans.
  • Meet with the Deans within the next two months to develop concrete policies and methods to hold all academic departments accountable to increase the number of women taking into account their numbers in the Ph.D. pool.
  • Simultaneously, develop concrete incentives and disincentives to promote such increases.
  • Ask the Deans and the Provost's Staff Conference to monitor the appointment of women as senior faculty and bring better balance to the appointment of women and men at the senior ranks.
  • Redouble both School and Administration efforts to retain senior women faculty.
  • Review gender equity in salaries in all of the Schools and ask the Deans to correct any inequities found.
  • Work with the Deans to see that women attain the leadership and scholarly rewards in the Schools consistent with their interests and capabilities and find additional ways to enhance the environment for women at Penn.
  • Schedule a series of discussions on this report and the University's progress in responding to it in a variety of campus venues, including the Faculty Senate Executive Committee meeting in December, the University Council meeting in January, and the next meeting of the Affirmative Action Council.
  • Report back to University Council, the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, the Affirmative Action Council, and the campus community (via Almanac) by the beginning of the next academic year on the completion of the steps outlined above.
  • Report annually to University Council, the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, the Affirmative Action Council, and the campus community (via Almanac) in the fall of each academic year on our progress in improving Penn's gender equity profile.

On this occasion of the 125th anniversary of women students at Penn, we take great pride in Penn's achievements in making women faculty integral and equitably represented members of the University faculty. Given Penn's record of past success in this area, we are confident that focused attention to the current challenges of furthering equity at the departmental level across the University will help assure continued progress towards full gender equity among Penn's faculty

Almanac, Vol. 48, No. 14, December 4, 2001


December 4, 2001
Volume 48 Number 14

President Rodin has named a Philadelphia lawyer and Penn alumnus as the new vice president and chief of staff.
The Gender Equity Committee's Report on the status of women faculty at Penn concludes that problems reside primarily in individual departments rather than at the University-wide level.
The President and Provost reply to the Gender Equity Report and indicate an effort to work more closely with the deans to correct departmental inequities.
The University Council Open Forum will include topics of concern to various constituencies including staff and students.
Fire and Emergency Services has a new director with decades of experience.
The Division of Public Safety's Advisory Board makes recommendations concerning enforcement of PENNCard policies.
Dr. Thomas McNair Scott, a pioneering pediatric researcher and professor, dies at the age of 100 after an extensive career.
The new Faculty/Staff Directory is out and its cover celebrates the 125 Years of Women at Penn.
The report of the Ombudsman compares the cases of conflict handled by that office over the past several years.
Retirement Seminars will be held this week for faculty and staff who want to prepare for the future.
Flu shots will be available to faculty and staff; registration is required.
Penn's Way weekly raffles are underway; the deadline for the next one is Friday