The results of a year-long study of women faculty’s experiences and perceptions of the culture and climate at CSU were presented at a campus-wide forum on March 20.
According to the report, funded by the Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President for Research and conducted under the leadership of The Standing Committee on the Status of Women Faculty, 14 themes emerged as major findings, and from those themes, nine specific recommendations for moving forward were developed.
“This is the start of doing something transformative at CSU,” said Ellen Fisher, SCSWF chair, senior faculty advisor to the Office of the Vice President for Research, and professor of chemistry. “Climate and culture effects everyone, and it requires everyone to help find the solutions.”
All of the recommendations are guided by the ACT framework of Accountability, Consistency and Transparency, according to Sue James, professor and head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering who chairs the President’s Commission on Women and Gender Equity; SCSWF is a subcommittee of the Commission.
She explained the framework requires effective accountability measures should be implemented for leadership at all levels; leadership decisions that impact faculty should be consistently applied, and significant leadership decisions (and rationale for those decisions) should be clearly articulated and made accessible to the CSU community.
Colorado State University President Tony Frank established the Standing Committee on the Status of Women Faculty in May 2014, acknowledging the need to change the climate for women at CSU. Read more here.
The SCSWF holds meetings every other week. Meeting notes and more information about the committee is available here.
More than 200 people attended the forum and many stayed for a reception and informal conversation with members of the SCSWF and CSU administrators including Provost Rick Miranda and CSU President Tony Frank.
“As troubling as some of these reports are, they also serve to reinforce the very reasons the Presidential Commission was established in 1997, why we’ve increased its funding since 2009, why we established The Ripple Effect in 2013 that evolved into the Women and Gender Collaborative in 2016, and why we supported the establishment of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women Faculty by the Commission in 2014: because we know our university, much as we wish it otherwise, is a reflection of our history and society, a society striving to overcome longstanding and entrenched gender bias,” said Frank in an email to the leadership of the standing committee and commission.
The study, “Female Faculty’s Experiences and Perceptions of CSU Culture and Climate,” documented the experiences of 76 female CSU faculty of all ranks who self-selected to participate through interviews, focus groups and surveys. It offers an in-depth and nuanced understanding of their experiences and perceptions within the context of CSU’s history, policies, and procedures.
“The findings of the study reflect our history and our society,” Fisher added. “We’ve come a long way, but we have a long way to go.”
Roe Bubar, a professor with a joint appointment in ethnic studies and the School of Social Work and a member of SCSWF, explained the study and the work of the committee as “a process, less of an event, to bring about cultural change which will require systemic and structural changes … As President Frank has said, ‘Change is hard but it’s what we do, and after all, not changing is even harder.’”
The committee members say they realize there is a lot of work ahead, but they are hopeful.
“This is the beginning of a journey, and we’re going to do it together,” James said.