Women and Leadership Task Force present findings

The Women and Leadership Task Force found that there is a “perception of gender inequality at the college,” along with “concrete disparities,” Alice Edwards, Ph.D. and chair of the task force, said.

President Thomas Gamble, Ph.D., along with nine members of the Mercyhurst College community, created the task force in March 2010, to focus on women and leadership in the faculty and administration.
In the key findings, the task force stated that there is a definite inequality in the number of male and female deans, representation in upper administration, full and tenured professors, and number of sabbaticals granted.

These were found by a survey of male and female professors, 91 of whom completed more than 75 percent of the questions.

The task force results were presented Tuesday.

“Although we did not find any intentional examples of discrimination, what we did find is that there is a perception of gender inequality,” meaning that men generally have more opportunities,” Edwards said.

Some of the bigger issues creating this perception are that females make up only 16 of 54 tenured professors and three of 17 full professors.

The task force is now looking into these figures, and Edwards believes that “given the trends in higher education with women attaining more bachelor’s degrees than men, Mercyhurst has to pay attention to this so that this aspect of diversity is represented at the college.”

This is important because Mercyhurst is a college founded by women for women, with 59 percent of students being female.

“If we can pay attention to women,” Edwards said. “Maybe we can pay attention to other underrepresented groups on campus.”

According to the Executive Summary the task force provided, recommendations include: increased representation of women among the upper administration, more hiring and retention of female faculty and administrators, identification and recruitment of female candidates for membership on the Board of Trustees, including an obligation to seek out talented women, creation of a mentoring program for women at the associate professor rank, and most importantly, continuation of the task force for at least another year.

Professor Alice Edwards, Ph.D.; Assistant Professors Jodi Staniunas-Hopper and Melissa Surawski, Ph.D.; Associate Professors Candee Chambers, Ph.D., and Roger Griffiths, Ph.D.; Administrators Darci Jones, Michele Wheaton, Merry Shultz, J.D., and Judi Smith, Ph.D.; and Trustee Mary Ellen Dahlkemper make up the task force.