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From the President and Provost

Gender Equity: Penn's First Annual Report

In response to the Gender Equity Report of December 4, 2001, the President and Provost described a series of steps Penn would take to redouble our efforts to assure gender equity among the faculty. Although the University has made gains in the hiring of women faculty over the past 10 years, we had reached a hiring "plateau" that prompted additional attention and effort in this critical area, in particular at the school and department level. The President and Provost pledged to report back to the University Council, the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, the Affirmative Action Council and the campus community (via Almanac) during the 2002-2003 academic year on the completion of the steps outlined that are designed to eventually improve Penn's gender equity profile. This report provides an overview of the steps that were proposed and have since been taken.

Steps Proposed and Taken

• Make Gender Equity a priority in the new strategic plan.

Goal #1 of the University's strategic plan, presented in the April 2, 2002 Almanac, focuses on the faculty. Building and retaining a universally outstanding faculty requires us to increase the presence and leadership of women and underrepresented minorities on the faculty. This goal also recommends that the administration assist schools and departments in identifying outstanding candidates for the faculty, paying particular attention to gender and minority equity. The deans have been asked to address these same priorities as they develop their school plans, which will be completed by mid-spring semester, 2003. As part of its strategic planning process, the School of Medicine has identified as one of its goals the creation of a more diverse faculty. To this end, two faculty work groups have been named, one to look at gender related issues and the second focusing on underrepresented minorities.

Along with the deans, develop concrete policies to hold all academic departments accountable for hiring women, taking into account their numbers in the Ph.D. pool.

Following a meeting with the deans in February, the Provost issued a memorandum on March 4, 2002, asking them to take a number of steps to correct the problems noted in the Gender Equity Report. For each faculty search undertaken, the deans were asked to track the number of women in the department and the Ph.D. pool; the number of women on the search committee; the steps being taken to learn about senior women in the field who may be targets of opportunity for recruitment; and to track all relevant data relating to gender equity throughout the hiring process. This coming year the Deans will be required to provide updates on their efforts, particularly in those departments well below the expected numbers given the pool in their discipline.

• Develop concrete incentives to promote an increase in women faculty.

On June 12, 2002, the Provost announced the creation of a new fund to provide financial support for the recruitment of new, and the retention of current senior women faculty. The schools have also developed incentives to correct gender inequities. For example, the Deans of Wharton and SAS have asked their department chairs to look for targets of opportunity for women in fields where they are underrepresented.

Deans and department chairs alike are focusing on those departments that have traditionally hired a disproportionate percentage of male faculty, and appropriate measures are being developed to ensure equal opportunity exists throughout the University for qualified women.

Tracking of searches by the deans has helped to ensure the consideration of gender equity. In several instances this past year, deans have identified search processes that were not designed to promote gender equity sufficiently. In those instances, the deans asked that the search process be corrected to assure the appropriate consideration of women candidates. Once compliance with gender equity guidelines was assured, the searches moved forward.

For example, SAS intends to increase the involvement of SAS Affirmative Action officers in all of its searches. Furthermore, the Dean and his Associate Deans will be convening regular meetings with women faculty of all ranks to address strategies for the recruitment and retention of women faculty and other work-related issues.

Monitor appointments of women as senior faculty and bring better balance to the appointment of men and women at the senior ranks.

Appointments of women to the senior faculty are now being monitored by both the deans and the Provost Staff Conference.

Redouble efforts to retain senior women faculty.

In addition to the fund mentioned above, the Provost has encouraged the deans to seek opportunities for research funding, endowed chairs and other leadership opportunities that would enhance the careers of senior women at Penn and increase the likelihood of retaining them. Several senior women faculty members were retained as a result of mutual efforts made by the Deans and the Provost.

Review gender equity in salaries in all the schools and ask the deans to correct any inequities found.

The Provost conducted another review of faculty salaries in spring 2002 and found, as in the earlier study, that in the overall analysis there were no gender differences in salary. Salaries were also examined more closely in all the schools and where specific individual inequities existed, the Provost asked the deans to correct them. The deans also have taken concerted action to identify individual professors whose compensation may be lagging.

Work with the deans to ensure that women attain leadership and scholarly rewards in the Schools consistent with their interests and capabilities and to enhance the environment for women at Penn.

The Provost's memorandum of March 4, 2002 also asked the deans to track research space, leadership positions, endowed chairs and teaching awards for women.

For example, two committees in the School of Nursing are developing specific recommendations that grew out of a recent Faculty Retreat focusing on a number of topics including Building Community/Work Environment and Diversity and Cultural Competence. Among the strategies discussed: a faculty orientation program that would focus on professional, instructional, organizational and leadership development; a more formalized program for mentoring Assistant and Associate Professors; the creation of greater opportunities for faculty collaboration; and the possible development of a comprehensive plan that would help to advance the tripartite mission of the school--research, teaching and practice--while facilitating the recruitment and retention of a more diverse faculty.

Following the publication of the Gender Equity Report last year, SAS scheduled a series of discussions with women faculty to talk about ways to enhance the environment for women in SAS. When appropriate, the School will facilitate mentoring for junior female faculty by a faculty member from outside that junior woman's department. The School will also designate a person in the SAS administration as a ‘point person' for issues of concern to women faculty, acting both as a resource and, as appropriate, as a mediator.

The Law School has made a concerted effort to appoint qualified women to leadership positions, most recently a woman was appointed Vice Dean for Student Services.

In order to improve the visibility of women in Penn Engineering, the School started its "Grace Hopper Lectures Program." With this initiative, individual departments invite accomplished women faculty members from other institutions to visit Penn and deliver research seminars. Grace Hopper lecturers are also asked to meet with women on the faculty and with women undergraduate and graduate students. They thus serve as role models, have an opportunity to share their experiences and to provide advice on career issues and challenges faced by women.

Schedule a series of discussions on this report and the University's progress, including the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, University Council and Affirmative Action Council.

Barbara Lowery and Phoebe Leboy, co-chairs of the Committee on Gender Equity, presented the Gender Equity Report to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee on December 12, 2001. Drs. Lowery and Leboy also presented the Report to University Council during its January, 2002 meeting. The Affirmative Action Council members heard from Barbara Lowery in January of 2002 and from School of Arts and Sciences Dean Sam Preston on the issue of gender equity later in the spring semester.

Looking Ahead

Although it is too early to expect to see quantifiable changes as a result of the steps taken since last winter, their cumulative effect reinforces the central idea that gender equity is a shared priority among all of Penn's schools and departments. The steps taken to date will also help instill and reinforce an atmosphere at Penn in which the perception of equity and the reality of equity are synonymous. Meaningful change will come incrementally, and over a greater period of time, but every improvement will be important and will be tracked. The final commitment made in the President's and Provost's Reply to The Gender Equity Report was to provide annual updates to the University community on the progress made in the preceding year. They look forward to sharing Penn's progress next year in greater detail when they will be in a position to discuss specific actions taken within each school.


  Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 13, November 19, 2002