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Penn's Commitment to Gender Equity

This issue of Almanac includes the first annual report documenting the University's responses to the Gender Equity Report issued in December 2001. This annual report reinforces the seriousness with which we view gender equity and diversity in general. As we said in our initial response to the Gender Equity Report, Penn's efforts have not been uniform across all schools and departments. There is still much work to be done, and we are committed to working with the faculty, department chairs and deans to implement both short- and long-term strategies to meet these pressing goals.

We are challenged by several current studies indicating that our peer institutions are successfully recruiting talented women to join their faculty. In a recent study of our peer schools issued by Stanford, we have learned that Penn does not compare favorably for numbers of women in many fields.

The Gender Equity Report provides us with a guideline about where and how to proceed to reduce the inequities found. Clearly much of the effort will need to occur at the department level where the initial hiring and promotion decisions are made. It is also at this level that we are likely to find some naysayers--those who believe there are few women sufficiently qualified to join their ranks. Yet our peer institutions have been successful in finding such faculty. Recruitment packages should not be a deterrent for us, either. Through the Office of the Provost, Penn now has in place special recruitment and retention programs that should help make all of our offers competitive with those of our peers. This commitment must be as strong throughout the University. We have asked the twelve deans to include faculty gender and minority equity in their schools' strategic plans. Each has done so without hesitation. We are confident that with a persistent focus on these important initiatives, particularly at the department level, we will achieve the diversity that should be characteristic of a superb faculty.

Judith Rodin Robert Barchi
President Provost

  Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 13, November 19, 2002