Report Reflects on Gender Equity Issues at UCSF

A new UC Davis report about faculty hiring across the UC system echoes some of the concerns over gender inequities outlined in a report released last fall by the UCSF Chancellor's Advisory Committee on the Status of Women (CACSW). The UCSF report, authored by Barbara Gerbert, professor and chair of the Division of Behavioral Sciences, takes a critical view of the progress made over the past three decades in addressing the disparities among men and women at the top-rated health sciences university. Titled "Slow Steps to Change: A History of the UCSF Chancellor's Advisory Committee on the Status of Women and Strategies for Increased Impact," the report cites both the successes and failures of its 36-year history. The report [PDF] integrates information from a variety of sources, including interviews with past committee members, various reports and personal files from past constituents. According to the report, UCSF's reluctance to fully enact the committee's recommendations has resulted in ongoing salary inequities among faculty, difficulties in hiring the best-qualified women candidates for faculty and staff positions, and the lack of adequate representation by women in key leadership roles. UCSF Human Resources is conducting a salary equity study for staff positions. Recognizing the ongoing need to address gender equity issues, campus officials can point to some recent developments at UCSF. Importantly, a preliminary analysis of faculty searches over the past 12 months shows that 55 percent were filled by women. Other advances include: Providing leadership training and networking opportunities for female faculty, staff and students, in part through CACSW, the UCSF Center for Gender Equity, the UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women's Health (CoE), Human Resources and student affairs; Establishing a search ambassador program, which is designed to assist faculty search committees in using best practices to identify qualified candidates; Expanding on-campus child care and revisiting the need for lactation facilities; Appointing faculty to look at how to boost diversity among students and faculty, and offering training and course work in culturally competent care; and Promoting women into leadership roles: Recent examples include Sally Marshall, now associate vice chancellor of academic affairs; and, in the School of Medicine, Donna Ferriero was named vice dean for academic affairs and Nancy Milliken, director of the CoE, was appointed vice dean.
Members of the UCSF Chancellor's Advisory Committee on the Status of Women pose for a group interview in April 2004. They are, from left, Ruth Greenblatt, Barbara Gerbert, Sally Marshall, Amy Levine, Virginia Olesen, Ruth Weiller, Mary Croughan and Diane Wara.
Members of the UCSF Chancellor's Advisory Committee on the Status of Women pose for a group interview in April 2004. They are, from left, Ruth Greenblatt, Barbara Gerbert, Sally Marshall, Amy Levine, Virginia Olesen, Ruth Weiller, Mary Croughan and Diane Wara.
For lead author Gerbert, recipient of this year's Chancellor's Award for the Advancement of Women in the faculty category, the CACSW report serves a twofold purpose: as "food for thought" on how the committee's work could have been done differently to better effect meaningful change, and to "suggest ways in which the work of the committee - including the nature and structure of the committee itself - might possibly be modified in the future" to advance its goals. Suggested goals for CACSW include developing a cadre of male champions to help advance the committee's goals, reestablishing a systemwide consortium of committees on the status of women to share best practices, building upon work done at other universities to address inequities, and publicizing issues both within and outside the campus community to help bring about institutionalized change. "Since its inception in 1971, the committee has worked tirelessly to address a myriad of complex issues that confront women faculty, staff and students at UCSF, many of them involving entrenched policies of implicit institutionalized discrimination against women," the report states in its introduction. "The committee has assessed campus needs, prepared sweeping reports and recommendations, and in some cases achieved notable victories on behalf of UCSF women, particularly in the areas of child care, the rewriting of personnel policies, and the implementation of strong policies against sexual harassment," the report states. "Yet at the same time, the history of the committee has also been marked by frustration, disappointment and even failure, as its hard work and carefully formed strategies have, in many cases, been either ignored, overlooked or not implemented by campus administrators and decision makers." Renewed Attention Just as in political and corporate sectors, women have never been proportionately represented in academia, UC officials say. UC's percentage of women faculty (24.2 percent) not only matches that of the average of its comparison eight research institutions, but also matches the percentage of women in the state legislature, according to the UC Office of the President. The University has focused renewed attention on faculty gender issues since the concerns over faculty hiring were identified in the late 1990s. The proportion of women hired into UC ladder-rank faculty positions has increased steadily in the past four years, from 25 percent in 1999-2000 to 36 percent in 2003-2004, the last date for which figures are available. UC also has appointed M.R.C. Greenwood as provost and senior vice president of academic affairs, the top academic position in the system. In addition, UC has appointed two women chancellors in the past two years. Today, four of 10 UC chancellors are women. In addition, UC has revised faculty personnel policies to ensure that efforts to promote equity are rewarded in faculty appointment and promotion and that department chairs and deans are evaluated on affirmative action and equity programs. The University also is in the final review stages of expanded family-friendly policies for child rearing. Staff have been able to take advantage of flexible time or voluntary reduced schedules (with less pay) if they want to spend more time with their families. They also have increased opportunities for mentoring through the Academic Business Officers program and for on-the-job training to learn new skills. Executive Vice Chancellor Eugene Washington said he's determined to make additional progress at UCSF, in part through the newly established Office of Faculty Development and Advancement. He appointed Marshall to her new role, which calls for creating, implementing and ensuring the success of programs to enhance faculty life. A former chair of CACSW and member of the committee to assess the climate for faculty at UCSF, Marshall is well aware of the challenges women face. The 2001 faculty opinion survey at UCSF found that while both women and men derive great satisfaction from their work, women have more critical views and more negative experiences in areas such as income, opportunities for leadership and support for their lives outside work. To consider solutions of the 2001 faculty survey, the chancellor appointed the Task Force on Faculty Life, which served until 2003. To follow up on the task force's recommendations, the chancellor named a new Council on Faculty Life that would "advise the Chancellor on implementation of recommendations in the report, oversee this implementation and consider further measures that might be appropriate on behalf of faculty welfare." Marshall says her top priority is to implement recommendations of the Chancellor's Council on Faculty Life (CCFL). In that 170-page report issued in February 2003, the council made 10 recommendations, including those calling for institutional welcoming of new faculty, departmental mentoring and cultivating leadership. "Many highly qualified people with great ideas have contributed to the CCFL and the task force and committees that led to its creation, so that has to come first," Marshall says. "I personally believe that the faculty mentoring program will naturally lead to a faculty development program, which also is a high priority for me. From my experience as a faculty member, I think we need to strive to remove the obstacles for faculty, so faculty can conduct their teaching, research, clinical activities and service." One of the obstacles for working parents, both faculty and staff, has been addressed in part by the adoption of flexible work schedules. More recently, UC has unveiled proposals to further improve its family-friendly policies for academic personnel, including defining that performance reviews that are deferred due to a faculty member's family obligations shall be evaluated without prejudice. Achieving Gender Equity, Diversity Achieving gender equity is not a question of correcting errors of the past, UC officials say, but of tapping into the available talent pool to achieve the highest level of academic quality. The good news is that women represent a growing pool of scientific talent in UC's undergraduate and graduate degree programs. In the UCSF medical school, for example, women make up half of the graduates. But much remains to be done for women to rise through the ranks to eventually become leaders and voting members of the UCSF Academic Senate, which enjoys shared governance responsibilities with UC officials. Academic Senate members can serve in leadership positions, including major committees, and can vote on important initiatives. "There are many fewer women faculty than men in Academic Senate positions," Gerbert said. "Women in the Academic Senate series make up less than 15 percent of the total UCSF faculty, while men in those series make up 34 percent of total faculty." Among UCSF faculty statistics emphasized in the report: Although 791 (39 percent) of 2,051 UCSF faculty members are women, only 307 (30 percent) of 1,013 Academic Senate faculty members are women. This campuswide percentage of Academic Senate faculty includes women from the School of Nursing, whose faculty is predominantly (87 percent) women. In the School of Medicine, home to 1,659, or 81 percent, of all UCSF faculty, only 223 (26 percent) of Academic Senate faculty are women. Professor of Clinical X contains 60 (34 percent) women; In Residence contains 110 (26 percent) women; and the ladder rank - those eligible for tenure - contains 53 (21 percent) women. Women of color also face significant hurdles to advancement. The last UCSF study on underrepresented women showed that African American and Hispanic women are disproportionately disadvantaged when it comes to overall progress in hiring, promotions and reclassification (to get salary increases) at UCSF. For Amy Levine, director of the UCSF Center for Gender Equity, future priorities should aim at helping these women succeed. "CACSW should continue focusing on leadership with a focused eye on women of color because we lack women of color in the highest levels of administration." Renee Navarro, associate dean of the UCSF School of Medicine, says she's working on recommendations to increase the recruitment, retention and promotion of underrepresented minorities in medicine and science as chair of a task force established by David Kessler, dean and vice chancellor for medical affairs. In her presentation at the May 16 women's health summit at UCSF, Navarro noted, "We recognize that the California State Proposition 209 had a chilling effect on many diversity initiatives. But we know that many opportunities to recruit candidates with diverse life experiences exist, and we believe that it is essential for us to optimize our outreach efforts at all levels. "We must also create a culture, a climate, within UCSF that embraces and promotes the fact that diversity is essential to fulfilling our mission. The recommendations of the task force are forthcoming and will, at their core, recommend that each facet of the medical school leadership extend effort to ensure that as a public institution, the physician work force that we educate and train at UCSF represent the gender, ethnic and racial diversity of the population of the state of California." Value of Collaboration When those closely involved with CACSW over the years are asked what has been its greatest contribution to women at UCSF, many say that it's fostering cooperation, camaraderie and communication about critical issues on campus. "The clear lesson to be learned from the history of CACSW is that women who work together to promote positive policies and to overcome overt prejudices or unintentional biases can make important steps forward," the report concludes. Gerbert credits the "spirit of cooperation and collaboration, which has been a hallmark of the work" of CACSW. Alma Sisco-Smith, director of the UCSF Work~Life Resource Center, sums up CACSW's accomplishments this way: "First, it has been an important forum for women to come together to identify issues that would otherwise get lost or be perceived as individualized issues," she says. "Second, it has been to bring forth validated issues or problems to leadership for attention, like the need for lactation rooms or space, and conducting salary inequity studies between male and female faculty in similar ranks here at UCSF." "The committee's contributions are many and numerous," says Ferriero. "But the real value is that the committee keeps the awareness of issues relating to women in health sciences in the forefront - from simple tasks like correcting facilities, such as adding breastfeeding stations, to more difficult issues, such as promotion, retention and advancement of women at all levels of work and achievement." "We have taken issues that have historically been marginalized and brought them to the center of UCSF's list of priorities," adds Levine. "I would be hard-pressed to limit myself to naming our best contribution, as we have worked hard on issues such as staff and faculty salary equity, maternity leave, lactation rooms, upward mobility and leadership (through networking and professional development events for staff, faculty and students), and sexual harassment." But everyone acknowledges that more work must be done. Research and reform should focus on effective mentoring for staff, graduate students and junior hires, the impact of the tenure clock on the careers of men and women faculty, and how the University rewards reaching goals for diversity. Specifically, Levine says UCSF needs to give incentives to departments that adhere to diversity goals and create internships and management fellowships within the campus which lead to higher-level career placement for women, especially those of color. Sisco-Smith concurs: "Women and people of color at the top are definitely important, but not just for window dressing. If there are not significant and meaningful commitments down in the depths of the institution, and no supportive infrastructure, then women and more color at the top can be meaningless." Simply put, Levine says: "Our goal for the future should include working with high-level women and male allies to assure that our work truly makes a concrete difference in the lives of women at UCSF." Source: Lisa Cisneros

Related Links

Chancellor's Advisory Committee on the Status of Women (CACSW)