Gender Equity Conversations Move to Phase of Action

After a period of evaluation, a working group looking at gender equity on campus is moving recommendations received from the campus community into a next phase of action.

The Office of the President conducted a number of listening sessions last fall with female students, faculty, and staff to gather feedback about gender-related campus issues. That feedback was collected, categorized, and synthesized into a set of recommendations that will be pursued by departments across campus.

President G.P. “Bud” Peterson met with other Institute leaders earlier this semester to begin disseminating recommendations to relevant areas. Going forward, the implementation will be led by Institute Diversity, in close partnership with Human Resources and Faculty Affairs. These offices will call upon others for input and to hand off recommendations when needed or appropriate.

In a memo last week, Peterson endorsed the work of this task force and notified campus leaders that they may have a role. 

“We are all called upon to create a campus culture of dignity, respect, and inclusion,” Peterson said. 

For faculty and staff, many of the recommendations focus on policy or human resources initiatives. Some of those include providing diversity guidelines for search committees, evaluating and promoting family-friendly programming and policies, conducting a salary equity study for staff (to complement a recent one for faculty), and identifying pathways for advancement for professional staff.

Feedback from students was more cultural than institutional, but many of the opportunities created through the working group will also benefit students and lend to a more inclusive culture for all. Some of those campuswide opportunities will include implicit bias workshops, mentoring, professional and leadership development, highlighting the success of women on campus, and promoting events that feature and celebrate women.

“The whole process has been eye-opening for the Institute’s senior leaders,” said Lynn Durham, assistant vice president and chief of staff for the Office of the President, who helped lead the working group. “Having these conversations has brought to light some of the issues that may not have been readily apparent on campus.”

Per Peterson’s memo, two themes will continue guide the Institute’s work in this area:

  1. Promoting gender equity through policies and processes related to the recruitment, hiring, retention, promotion, professional development, and appointment to leadership roles of faculty and staff members.
  2. Celebrating the contributions of women in our community and making the commitment to inclusion more visible in communications.

Institute Diversity will meet quarterly with unit representatives from Human Resources, Faculty Affairs, Institute Communications, and other units to prioritize and track progress on these initiatives. 

At the recommendation of the working group, the 2016 Diversity Symposium will put a focus on gender equity. Institute Diversity also recently launched a Leading Women at Tech initiative, which engages senior and emerging women leaders on campus in collaboration and empowerment opportunities. Another recent step was a modified Regents Professor selection process to better incorporate diversity.