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Report on women's recruitment earns faculty, administrative support

STANFORD -- Faculty and senior administrators at Stanford have endorsed a provostial committee's recommendations that call on the university to increase efforts to recruit and retain women faculty.

During a Faculty Senate discussion lasting more than 90 minutes on Dec. 2, senators unanimously adopted an amended resolution sponsored by five of their women members. It asked the administration to implement recommendations from the Provostial Committee on the Recruitment and Retention of Women Faculty.

The recommendations include increasing the percentage of women faculty, ensuring salary equity, developing recruitment plans for women, helping faculty to combine work and family, and creating a culture of faculty support for its junior members.

On a divided vote, a request that the provost report progress twice a year to the senate was changed to once a year.

In its lengthy report, complete with numerous statistics, the committee found that 43 percent of Stanford departments have no tenured women faculty and almost 40 percent of the departments hiring new faculty in the last five years did not hire a woman.

The committee, chaired by Myra Strober, professor and academic associate dean of education, was appointed in October 1992 by then-Provost Gerald Lieberman.

His successor, Condoleezza Rice, told the senate that she endorsed all but one of the committee's 16 recommendations. She differed on the subject of publishing specific hiring goals for women.

Rice said she preferred making the deans accountable during the budget and planning process for their records in hiring women and minority faculty. Rice was a member of the committee until she was named provost-designate in May 1993.

More than two dozen women faculty members attended the session as visitors but, because of time constraints, none was able to address the senate.

Rice told the crowded senate chamber that Stanford's relatively low numbers are "doubly bad news" because women Ph.D.s are available in most disciplines.

The situation is not the same with minority faculty, where the availability pools are "very small," she said.

"Intellectual prowess comes in both genders and all colors," she said. "We're not doing really well in both genders and all colors, and so we're probably missing out on some parts of intellectual prowess."

Rice said that as provost she would monitor scatterplots of faculty salaries and would question deans if inequity was apparent.

She also said faculty members would be able to discuss salary concerns with the vice provost for faculty recruitment and development. Rice said she hopes to fill the position during winter quarter, although she expects it will take the faculty appointee some time to disengage from other assignments.

The new vice provost will study whether junior and women faculty are assigned excessive duties in advising, teaching and committee assignments, she said. They must not be asked to take on tasks that will diminish their chances of getting tenure, Rice said.

How to establish recruiting goals?

On the committee's proposal to publish recruitment goals, Rice said she saw some merit in the idea, but also drawbacks, "not the least of which is that I don't know if we have enough historical experience to actually establish targets and goals that make sense to us."

In addition, some women and minorities find such targets "offensive," she said, and Stanford should avoid the "highly publicized pitfalls that published targets and goals have produced for our sister institutions recently."

Rice said that future general funds allocations would be based on a thorough review of each school's proposed budget, paying particular attention to how the plans address key universitywide concerns, including the recruitment of outstanding women and minority faculty, interschool and interdepartmental cooperation, and efforts in graduate and undergraduate teaching.

"By putting it in what some consider the most important document the provost issues -- the budget letter - I hope it is clear that it's an issue I take quite seriously," she said.

During the question period, Sylvia Yanagisako, anthropology, asked Rice how she could produce results without specific public goals and a mechanism for reward and punishment.

Rice responded that she expected to have serious discussions with deans, who should incorporate in their planning processes ideas on how to hire more women and minorities. However, she said she was reluctant to put it in terms of "reward and punishment."

Departments make hiring decisions, Rice said, not the president, provost or deans. Departments are where changes must occur, she said.

President Gerhard Casper chimed in that although the president and provost do not make appointments, "we will do our best to make sure people do not forget."

After the meeting, Strober said she was not upset by Rice's decision against publicly stated targets.

"There are different ways to skin this cat," Strober said. "I'm in favor of giving her a chance to make that work."

Dealing with the issue in the budget letter, the committee chairwoman said, is "very strong - in some ways, it's stronger than what we suggested."

"And appointing a vice provost for faculty affairs is stronger than what we requested," Strober said. "So I'm very heartened."

Strober: change needed

In her prepared remarks introducing the report at the senate, Strober said "we must change the current situation where women faculty feel like oddities and where junior faculty receive little mentoring and virtually no emotional support."

Her committee, which met frequently for nearly a year and conducted numerous interviews and focus-group discussions, also considered the costs of its recommendations in relation to "these times of budgetary constraints," she said.

"We believe that the benefit/cost ratio of carrying out our recommendations is very high," Strober said. "The human cost of carrying on as we have in the past is simply too great."

She reviewed the committee's main findings (see also Campus Report, Dec. 1, 1993):

  • Stanford lags behind peer institutions in the percentage of women faculty. In 1976-77, the seven institutions had approximately the same percentage of women. Since then, women faculty at Princeton grew 70 percent; women faculty at Yale, Harvard and Cornell from 110 to 130 percent; and Brown about 165 percent. During the same period, Stanford and Chicago grew about 50 percent.
  • Compared to the pool of women available for faculty positions, most departments hired a lower percentage of women faculty than would have been expected.
  • Scatterplots for full professors showed that in some parts of the university women were overrepresented in the lower end of the salary distribution and underrepresented in the top quartile.
  • Many junior men and junior women found little support from senior faculty. They experienced their untenured years as being "on trial." Many women reported problems related directly or indirectly to gender discrimination, sexual harassment or the challenge of being the primary child rearer.

Plea for supportive environment

During the faculty comment and question period, Jeff Koseff, civil engineering, enthusiastically and eloquently supported the committee's recommendations, and praised it for addressing issues faced by all young faculty.

Koseff, whose wife is a department chair at San Jose State University, said he had found excellent child care, but not everyone is so fortunate. He said he was grateful for his department's supportive atmosphere, which helped him share equally in rearing his young son.

Paraphrasing former Provost James Rosse, he said that the university needs to acknowledge that lifestyles have changed, and attitudes must change to accommodate that fact.

"The highest standards for academic excellence and the highest regard for family values are not incompatible entities," he said. "In many ways, they are strongly connected."

More attention should be paid, Koseff said, to creating a culture of support for women and minority graduate students, many of whom are "completely turned off and don't pursue academic careers" because of the problems for junior faculty that they observe.

His own department has tried to create a supportive environment, encouraging female student interest in doctoral work, he said. One-third of its graduate students are now women.

This kind of support is what "we should strive for as a university," he said.

Goals must be realistic

On the issue of public goals, Terry Karl, political science, warned that there may be some danger setting them in terms of "what can be realized."

She asked if the provost's office could review the applicant pool at the short-list stage to find out why choices were made, as is done elsewhere.

Fran Conley, professor of neurosurgery and vice chair of the Advisory Board, said the board sees such an analysis, but that it is difficult to know how stringent the department has been. "It can be finessed," she said.

James Van Horne, business, asked how salary inequities mentioned in the report could be resolved.

Rice said she expects to discuss apparent inequities with the deans, to which Casper added that "in that sense, the Provost's Office will be more activist than I think we have been in the past."

Rice told Van Horne that she was not able to provide additional funds. "I'm not going to make up for a dean's inequitable distribution," she said.

Rob Polhemus, English, expressed support for the committee's recommendations, but worried about the emphasis on availability pools and statistics.

"The emphasis has to be on hiring and getting people into places where they haven't been," he said. "The rest will flow from that."

Amos Tversky, psychology, questioned what he called a lack of comparative data supporting the notion that Stanford's culture is not supportive. He also suggested that it was not in the university's best interest to publicize the negative findings.

"Stanford seems more supportive then some other schools," he said. "Are you not being much too hard on the school?"

Speaking after the meeting, Strober said that potential faculty members know that the major universities "are not warm and fuzzy places." However, they will know that Stanford is telling the truth about itself and is committed to changing the situation, she said.

"I see it as a very positive recruiting tool," she said.

Administration asked to follow through

Following the lengthy discussion, the senate spent another 20 minutes considering its proposed resolution of support, presented by Elizabeth Traugott, linguistics.

Traugott said she and four other women senators made the proposal because of concern that the issue might otherwise get sidetracked.

No one went on record opposed to the report's basic findings. "You have to be evil to be against this one," said Jim Adams, mechanical engineering.

However, he and John Brauman, chemistry, questioned whether the resolution implied that the administration was at fault.

"Literary tone is my field," Polhemus said. "I don't find anything offensive or whining in the resolution."

Elisabeth Pate-Cornell, industrial engineering and a cosigner of the resolution, said that "someone has to pay attention." The resolution is a request that the president and provost "keep their eyes open for us."

The senators then discussed whether the provost should be asked to report back once or twice a year.

Karl said she felt strongly about the need for a regular reporting process to create greater understanding about the issue.

Richard Zare, chemistry, said once a year would be more practical than twice, and offered an amendment to that effect. "We want everyone to pay attention," he said.

Steve Chu, chair of physics and member of the recruitment and retention committee, agreed with the one-year suggestion. "If you have too many reports, it turns into a drone," he said.

The amendment passed with approximately seven nay votes. Then, the full resolution was adopted unanimously.



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