Frequently Asked Questions: Report on the Status of Academic Women

Q: What is the Report on the Status of Academic Women?

A: This inaugural report provides detailed data on the representation of women across the faculty of the University of Chicago, including women in academic leadership positions.

Q: What is the report’s purpose?

A: The report aims to provide “an initial assessment” of the status of women within the University’s faculty and academic leadership, and to stimulate a campus-wide discussion informed by the data.

Q: What are the main findings?

A: The report found that women constitute a growing proportion of faculty members at the University. As of 2010, women accounted for 25 percent of tenure-track faculty, up from eight percent in 1972. The report also found that the representation of women in faculty positions and leadership roles varies across the University’s units and schools.

Q: Does the report make any recommendations for future action?

A: No. The authors consciously limited the report to a presentation of data. It does not contain additional analysis, interpretation, evaluation or policy prescriptions. The authors expect this will be a subject for further discussion at the University.

Q: What action is the University already taking?

A: The University of Chicago is committed to welcoming and supporting preeminent scholars of all backgrounds, and it is engaged in a long-term effort to strengthen the climate for women faculty and for all faculty members with families. These actions include the formation of the Women’s Leadership Council, plans for two new child care centers serving the University community, and a new grant program to support dependent care for junior faculty engaged in work-related travel. In addition, the University has revised promotion policies to grant an automatic one-year extension of the promotion clock for the birth or adoption of a child, and established a dual-career office to help place into jobs the spouses and partners of recruited faculty.

Q: How is the University working on issues relevant to women in the sciences?

A: Efforts to attract and support women in the sciences have been a particular focus of the University. The Women in Science Project, co-sponsored by the Provost’s Office and the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, brings together women faculty from across the institution to meet peers and present their research. This year the University of Chicago and Northwestern University launched a partnership to create the Chicago Collaboration for Women in STEM, with programs aimed at providing women with the tools to advance in their careers. In addition, the Women’s Leadership Council has sponsored a series of well-attended gatherings for women faculty of all ranks and across all university units.

Q: Who produced this report?

A: The Women’s Leadership Council compiled and authored the report, and President Robert J. Zimmer and Provost Thomas F. Rosenbaum endorsed it.

Q: What is the Women’s Leadership Council?

A: Created in 2008, the Women’s Leadership Council consists of 12 women who represent the University’s divisions and schools. According to the council’s website, its members “advise in the implementation of the University’s commitment to become the institution of choice for outstanding women scholars in all fields of study.”


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