In an effort to combat gender inequality in UT's faculty, University Gender Equity Council, a committee formed by the University administration to research the issue, began meeting in early October.
The council, which consists of at least one faculty representative from each college or school at UT, met to discuss and advance gender equity efforts on campus. In 2013, the University employed 784 male full professors compared to 230 female full professors, according to data from the University’s Institutional Reporting, Research, and Information Systems.
Janet Dukerich, senior vice provost for faculty affairs and head of the council, said the 25 council members split up at the first meeting into three separate subcommittees to tackle different issues relating to gender inequality at UT: family and health, employment and climate.
“Each of these standing committees, over the next year, will meet regularly and gather data in terms of what’s going on at the University, in the colleges, in the departments,” Dukerich said. “And then [they will] make recommendations to the provost in terms of where we can make improvements.”
This is not the first time the University has looked into the issue of gender inequality. In 2007, Steven Leslie, the executive vice president and provost at the time, established the Gender Equity Task Force to research faculty gender inequality issues on campus and provide recommendations for improvement. The task force published its findings in 2008 and cited promotional lags and salary gaps between male and female professors.
Dukerich said the state of faculty and administration gender issues have improved at the University since 2008 but more growth is still needed. For instance, the report called for an increase in the number of child care centers available on campus to help faculty and administrators balance their family and professional lives. Since the report was released six years ago, there still remain only two child care centers on the University campus.
“Space is such a premium here,” Dukerich said. “The committee on family and health said that is one of the areas they want to work on. I think [the report] really raised awareness that these are issues we have to continually monitor and work on.”
Other issues highlighted in the 2008 report include concerns involving harassment and discrimination, attitudes about family-friendly policies, opportunities for administrative leadership and the sense of isolation among senior women.
Engineering lecturer Hillary Hart, member of the climate subcommittee, said this year’s council would survey faculty and administration to determine which further actions should be taken to improve issues surrounding gender equity on campus.
“The climate issues are harder to attack because the data is more qualitative and more anecdotal, so we’re trying to figure out how we’re going to do this,” Hart said.
Natasha Beretvas, educational psychology professor and member of the subcommittee on employment, said the employment committee would likely focus on faculty recruiting, salaries, start-up packages, endowments, promotions and spousal hires.
“It is very early in our deliberation process,” Beretvas said in an email. “We will endeavor to find relevant data to investigate how we are doing as a university in terms of equitable employment practices at various levels. All committees include highly qualified quantitative and qualitative data analysts and researchers, so that should help ensure alignment of research questions with the analyses conducted.”
Dukerich said as the University becomes more equitable, it must also remember that it is competing against other colleges in the nation in terms of providing supportive environments and equal opportunities across genders.
“We have to continually ask ourselves what we could be doing better, and that’s what I’ve charged this gender equity council with,” Dukerich said.