Mendoza School of Business

Summit to explore barriers to success for female faculty members

Published: May 12, 2005 / Author: Mendoza College

The conference, Women in Academia: Institutional Change to Enhance Success, is sponsored by Purdue University, the Susan Bulkeley Butler Institute for the Development of Women Leaders and the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), which is the academic consortium of the Big Ten universities plus the University of Chicago.

Conference co-chairs are provost Sally Mason; Linda P.B. Katehi, dean of the college of engineering; and Christie L. Sahley, associate dean of the College of Science.

“This will not be a meeting to hash out barriers one more time,” Sahley said. “We are committed to creating strategies for institutional change that can be fully implemented to assist women faculty in reaching their full potential.”

Sahley said primary barriers for women faculty are:

* Traditional expectations for achieving tenure and advancing through the ranks;

* Lack of role models and mentors for women;

* Existence of gender bias within the university;

* Overall campus “climate” for non-majority staff and faculty; and

* Need to achieve a work-life balance.

The group plans to send recommendations to the CIC, key foundations and relevant federal agencies.

The opening session will be free and open to the public. Featured speaker Virginia Valian, professor of psychology and linguistics at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, will speak at 8:45 p.m. May 16 in Stewart Center, Fowler Hall.

Valian is a cognitive scientist whose research ranges from first- and second-language acquisition to gender differences and gender equity. In her book, “Why So Slow? The Advancement of Women,” Valian integrates research from psychology, sociology and neuropsychology to answer the question of why so few women are at the top of their professions.

Other speakers at the three-day conference include Rita R. Colwell, the first woman named director of the National Science Foundation, who will speak about ways to achieve systemic institutional change. Linda P.B. Katehi, the first woman dean of engineering at Purdue, will speak on “Organizational Change to Support Progress in the Status of Women in Academia.” Vanessa Castagna, a 1971 Purdue graduate and former executive vice president and CEO of JC Penney Co., will bring her corporate experience to the discussion on advancement of women in academe.

The conference’s external organizing committee includes Susan Butler, Purdue alumna and founder of the Institute for the Development of Women Leaders; Jane Z. Daniels, director of the Clare Booth Luce Program of the Henry Luce Foundation; Samuel L. Myers Jr., chair of the Row W. Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Social Justice at the University of Minnesota; Sue V. Rosser, dean of the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts at the Georgia Institute of Technology; Lou Anna K. Simon, president of Michigan State University; and Carolyn Y. Woo, who received her doctorate from Purdue’s Krannert School of Management and is dean of the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame.


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