The Michigan Agenda for Women:
Leadership for a New Century

  Download selection to desktop
View as PDF

James J. Duderstadt
July, 1995

 

Contents:
Summary
Introduction
Higher Education at a Crossroads
Women at Michigan: A Rich History
Faculty Hiring
Faculty Success
The Culture
University Leadership Roles
Women of Color
Staff Issues
Pipeline Concerns
Student Issues
The Campus Environment
The Commitment
The Task Ahead
The Vision and the Values
Fundamental Goals
Stratigic Actions
Tactical Implementation
Evaluation and Assessment
Conclusion
Introduction

Throughout the 175-year history of the University of Michigan, it has played a leadership role as both the flagship and the pioneer in public higher education. Furthermore, it has often served as a catalyst in our society for ideas fundamental to the nation's development. As the University prepares to enter its third century, it is clear that sustaining this tradition of leadership will be the inclusion of women as full and equal partners in all aspects of the life and leadership of the University.

Beyond equity and rightful participation, we believe that the University should accept a greater challenge consistent with its heritage of leadership for higher education and our society. In this document we challenge the University of Michigan to accept the following vision statement for its future:

By the Year 2000, the University of Michigan will become the leader among American universities in promoting and achieving the success of women of diverse backgrounds as faculty, students, and staff.

To achieve such a vision, the University will have to change dramatically. Such institutional change will require vision, courage, commitment, and leadership. It will require investing University resources in women and in programs that serve them, as well as accountability throughout the institution. It will also require a bold strategy in which we set clear directions, implement decisive actions, and build strong and sustained support throughout the University community and its various external constituencies.

In this document, we outline a plan designed to achieve this leadership vision over the next several years. We refer to this plan as The Michigan Agenda for Women: Leadership for a New Century, or more simply, the Michigan Agenda. This plan is intended to integrate the goals of gender equity and the participation of women into the University's strategic planning and administrative processes. It calls for dramatically increasing the representation of women among the faculty, the administration, and the leadership of the University. And this plan will aim as well to create a University climate that fosters the success of women as faculty, students, and staff.

This plan is designed to be an organic, evolving tool for achieving institutional change. Over time, its evolution will be shaped by the counsel, experience, and wisdom of those--both within and external to the University-- who become committed to institutional leadership in the success of women. The Michigan Agenda will provide a framework for continuing dialogue, planning, and action through a dynamic process that we hope will eventually reach and involve every member of the University community.

back to top

Introduction

Throughout the 175-year history of the University of Michigan, it has played a leadership role as both the flagship and the pioneer in public higher education. Furthermore, it has often served as a catalyst in our society for ideas fundamental to the nation's development. As the University prepares to enter its third century, it faces a period of unprecedented challenge because of the profound nature and rapid pace of change characterizing our world. Such changes call for a comprehensive re-evaluation of the mission and priorities of our institution. They also call for a significant transformation--indeed, possibly even a re-invention--of the university to assure its continued leadership and contributions to a changing world.

Key to the success of this process will be the inclusion of women as full and equal partners in all aspects of the life and leadership of the University. But beyond equity and rightful participation, we believe that the University should accept a greater challenge consistent with its heritage of leadership for higher education and our society. In this document we challenge the University of Michigan to accept the following vision statement for its future:

By the Year 2000, the University of Michigan will become the leader among American universities in promoting and achieving the success of women of diverse backgrounds as faculty, students, and staff.

To achieve such a vision, the University will have to change dramatically. Such institutional change will require vision, courage, commitment, and leadership. It will require investing University resources in women and in programs that serve them, as well as accountability throughout the institution. It will also require a bold strategy in which we set clear directions, implement decisive actions, and build strong and sustained support throughout the University community and its various external constituencies.

In this document, we outline a plan designed to achieve this leadership vision over the next several years. We refer to this plan as The Michigan Agenda for Women: Leadership for a New Century, or more simply, the Michigan Agenda. This plan is intended to integrate the goals of gender equity and the participation of women into the University's strategic planning and administrative processes. It calls for dramatically increasing the representation of women among the faculty, the administration, and the leadership of the University. This plan aims as well to create a University climate that fosters the success of women as faculty, students, and staff.

Like its predecessor, the Michigan Mandate, this plan is designed to be an organic, evolving tool for achieving institutional change. Over time, its evolution will be shaped by the counsel, experience, and wisdom of those--both within and external to the University--who become committed to institutional leadership in the success of women. The Michigan Agenda will provide a framework for continuing dialogue, planning, and action through a dynamic process that we hope will eventually reach and involve every member of the University community.

back to top

Higher Education at a Crossroads

The challenges and changes facing higher education in the 1990s seem comparable in significance to those characterizing two other periods of great change in the nature of the university in the United States: a century ago when the comprehensive public university first appeared, and the years following World War II when the research university evolved to serve the needs of postwar society.

In the late nineteenth century, the industrial revolution was transforming our nation from an agrarian society into the industrial power that would dominate the twentieth century world. The original colonial colleges, based on the elitist educational principles of Oxbridge, were joined by the land-grant public universities, committed to broad educational access and service to society. In the decades following this period, higher education saw a massive growth in merit-based enrollments in degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels as the comprehensive university evolved.

Higher education went through a second period of dramatic change in the decades following World War II. The educational needs of the returning veterans, the role of the universities in national defense, and the booming postwar economy led to an explosion in both the size and number of major universities. Similarly, the direct involvement of the federal government in the support of campus-based research led to the evolution of the research university as we know it today.

Today we face a period of challenge and opportunity similar to these two earlier periods of transformation. Many point to negative factors, such as the rapidly growing costs of quality education and research during a period of limited resources, the erosion of public trust and confidence in higher education, or the deterioration in the partnership characterizing the research university and the federal government. But there are even more fundamental and profound changes that will drive transformations in our society and its institutions.

The United States is changing rapidly. When we hear references to the demographic changes occurring in our nation, our first thoughts may focus on the aging of our population. Yet, there is a far more profound change occurring. The United States is one of the most pluralistic and multicultural of nations. People of color, women, and immigrants now account for roughly 85 percent of the growth in the labor force, and by the year 2000 will represent 60 percent of our nation's workers. Women have already numerically the predominant gender in our nation and our institutions. Yet despite decades of efforts, they have not assumed their rightful role as full participants and leaders of our society.

In the future, the full participation of currently underrepresented people will be of increasing concern as we strive to realize our commitment to equity and social justice. This objective will be the key to the future strength and prosperity of America, since our nation cannot afford to waste the human talent-- this human potential, cultural richness, and social leadership--of those currently underrepresented in leadership roles in our society. If we do not create a nation that mobilizes the talents of all our citizens, we are destined for a diminished role in the global community, increased social turbulence, and, most tragically, we will have failed to have fulfilled the promise of democracy upon which this nation was founded.

To address this challenge and responsibility, five years ago the University of Michigan sought to intensify its efforts to bring all racial and ethnic groups fully into the life of the University. This renewed commitment was guided by a strategic plan known as the Michigan Mandate. The fundamental vision was that the University of Michigan would become a leader known for the racial and ethnic diversity of its faculty, students, and staff--a leader in creating a multicultural community capable of serving as a model for higher education and a model for society-at-large. We were convinced that our capacity to serve our state, our nation, and the world would depend on our capacity to reflect the strengths, perspectives, talents, and experiences of all peoples--of all of America's rich diversity of races, cultures, and nationalities--in everything that we do.

The Michigan Mandate broke new ground, drawing on the best available research and experience for promoting significant social change. It has provided the framework for a dynamic and inclusive reassessment of the University's future, based on the University's best academic traditions and values. It called upon the entire community to join in a commitment to change. Unique solutions, experiments, and creative approaches were encouraged, and resources were committed to them. Today we can look with pride on the accomplishments of the Michigan Mandate--although we also know that many challenges lie ahead that will require continued commitment, effort, and intensity.

Drawing upon the experience gained through the Michigan Mandate, we believe it is time for the University to launch a complementary and parallel effort to address the concerns of another group that has all too frequently been deprived of the opportunity to participate fully in our society and our institution: women. Women of color, who face the dual discrimination of race and gendera, are at the intersection of these initiatives.

Gender equity, while accepted as an important principle by most, nevertheless remains an elusive goal. The University simply has not made adequate progress toward its obligation of providing full participation and opportunity for women. The time has come to develop and execute a series of strategic actions aimed not only at gender equity, but moreover at creating an institution capable of fostering the success of women students, faculty, and staff. It is time to develop The Michigan Agenda for Women.

back to top

Women at Michigan: A Rich History

It is important to understand both the history of women at the University of Michigan and the present challenges they face in our institution. Women themselves have consistently and persistently been the leaders in the long struggle at Michigan to achieve equality for women, to recognize women¼s contributions, and to foster an environment in which women can succeed. We have benefited from a long line of women leaders who have pulled, pushed, and sometimes dragged the University along the path to equality for women.

We are deeply indebted to the many women who--from 1858, when Sarah Burger first applied for admission to the University, to the present day--have dedicated untold effort, overcome formidable barriers, and endured considerable hardship and sacrifice to make the University a better, fairer, more intellectually challenging, more diverse, and enriching place for us all.

Three women made history in 1858 when they submitted their applications for admission to the University. After great controversy and heated debate on the topic, the University denied them admission and did not reverse its stance until after the Civil War. Finally in 1867, the State Legislature declared: „The high objects for which the University of Michigan was organized will never be fully attained until women are admitted to all its rights and privileges.¾ In 1870, three years after this declaration, Madelon Stockwell became the first woman to enter the University. Many followed in her pioneering footsteps. Women¼s enrollments increased steadily until 1930 when they peaked at 37 percent. The 1940s witnessed first stagnation and then decline in the proportion of women students, as the University and its peers nationwide reduced the enrollment of women after the end of World War II. By 1950 women represented only 32 percent of the student body. In recent decades women's enrollments have increased and today women comprise 48 percent of our undergraduates and 40 percent of our graduate students.

It has long been clear that universities must play a major role both in redefining the role of women in our society and enabling their full participation. Since the 1960s there has been an intensified commitment by the University of Michigan on behalf of women. Spurred on by the efforts of many women at the University, Michigan took some important steps:

(1964): Created the Center for Continuing Education for Women
(1971): Established the Commission for Women
(1972): Established the Women¼s Studies Program
(1979): Established the Women of Color Task Force
(1980): Implemented the sexual harassment policy and
the „Tell Someone¾ program
(1980): Initiated the Women in Science Program
(1986): Created the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Program

In recent years, efforts associated with achieving gender equity and full participation of women have gained momentum. Consider some of the more prominent actions (many of these benefited men as well as women):

General Steps

1988: The University establishes a high-level President¼s Advisory Commission on Women¼s Issues to provide advice and counsel on the full range of issues, policies, and practices which affect women faculty, staff, and students.

1989: The Center for the Continuing Education of Women is renamed the Center for the Education for Women (CEW) and given an expanded role in addressing women¼s issues within the University and generating external support for women students at Michigan.

Women Faculty Hiring

1991: The Provost initiates the SHARE program (Special Hiring and Recruitment Effort for Senior Women) to provide strong incentives for recruiting senior women faculty into underrepresented academic units.

1993: The Dual Career Project, funded by the Sarah Goddard Power Fund, examined the challenges of recruiting dual career faculty couples.

Women Faculty Development

1990: A new policy is put into place to provide relief from classroom teaching during the semester of childbirth.

1991: A small task force studies and recommends the implementation of a series of proposals to encourage mentoring of junior women faculty.

1992: Both through efforts at the school and college level and through CEW, the University increases its efforts to ensure that women faculty have necessary and sufficient information regarding the tenure process, available resources, and evaluation of their progress and productivity.

1992: A Presidential Initiative Fund grant is provided to the Women¼s Studies program.

1992: CEW initiates an annual workshop on negotiating skills for junior women faculty.

1992: Annual forums on tenure are provided for junior faculty by the Office of the Provost.

1992: The organization of junior women faculty (J-Net) gathers and distributes information on various department practices for promotion and tenure.

Women Staff Development

1992: The University develops and adopts a comprehensive statement of its human resource development philosophy as a component of its total quality management efforts (M-Quality).

1992: The University reorganizes its human resources functions (Personnel, Affirmative Action) by creating a new senior position, Executive Director for Human Resources and Affirmative Action, reporting jointly to the Provost and VP/CFO.

Women Students

1992: The University joins with other Big 10 universities in a commitment to achieve a 60 percent-40 percent gender target in men's and women's varsity athletics opportunities.

1993: Establishment of a Women in Science and Engineering residence hall.

Family Issues

1990: The Dependent Care Task Force provides a series of recommendations for a more coordinated effort to develop child care services for faculty, staff, and students.

1991: The University Hospitals Child Care Center is opened.

1991: Creation of the Family Care Resources Program.

1992: The North Campus Housing Child Care Center is opened.

The Environment for Women

1988: The Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Program is expanded.

1990: The Campus Safety Task Force completes its study and proposes a wide range of actions designed to make the campus a safer environment for living and learning.

1990: The Nite Owl bus service is established and later expanded.

1990: The University undertakes a major effort to improve the safety of the campus, including a major increase in lighting, security telephones, and landscaping changes.

1991: In response to the Campus Safety Task Force, the University establishes its own campus police (the University Public Safety Department).

1991: The Sexual Harassment Policy is approved by the Regents.

Assessment

1989: The Affirmative Action Office completes its review of salary equity based upon gender and race, and all units take necessary action to address demonstrated inequities.

1991: CEW provides its first comprehensive report on the participation of students and faculty in all major academic units.

1992: The Provost implements an annual self-review by deans of the status of women students and faculty in their units. Associated with this effort, the Provost provides deans with detailed information about the participation in their units.

These actions provide evidence of the University¼s efforts to address an array of concerns of women students, faculty, and staff. There has been significant progress on some fronts: Today, women comprise 48 percent of undergraduate enrollments and 40 percent of graduate enrollments. Furthermore, many of our professional schools are making rapid progress in the participation of women students. In the past decade we have seen many more women at middle and upper management and administrative levels.

Despite these efforts, and beyond the good news in some areas, it is also clear that the University has simply not made the progress that we should have. Below we summarize the conclusions of a number of recent studies:

back to top

Faculty Hiring

In faculty hiring and retention, despite the increasing pools of women in many fields, the number of new hires of women has not changed significantly. We have made little progress in increasing the total number of women faculty over the past decade, still remaining at 20 percent. In some disciplines such as the physical sciences and engineering, the shortages are particularly acute. We continue to suffer from the „glass ceiling" phenomenon, i.e., that women can see through yet not break through to the ranks of senior faculty and administrators. The proportion of women decreases steadily as one moves up the academic ladder (34 percent of assistant professors, 23 percent of associate professors, 9 percent of full professors). Furthermore, in the past five years, only 24 percent of new associate professors and 10 percent of new full professors were women, thus perpetuating the status quo. Over the past decade, the representation of women at the full professor level has increased only modestly, from 6 percent to 9 percent.

Additionally, there appears to be an increasing tendency to hire women off the tenure track as postdoctoral scholars, lecturers, or research scientists. The rigid division among various faculty tracks provides little opportunity for these women to move onto tenure tracks.

back to top

Faculty Success

Retention of women faculty remains a serious concern. Statistical studies in recent years suggest that women are less likely (by 30 percent) than men to be either reviewed for promotion or recommended for promotion at the critical step between assistant professors and associate professors.

Women faculty, like men, come to the University of Michigan to be scholars and teachers. Yet because of their inadequate representation in the University, our women faculty are stretched far too thin. Virtually every woman faculty member is asked to assume a multitude of administrative assignments. While this is true for women faculty at all ranks, it takes the greatest toll on junior faculty.

The period of greatest vulnerability in promotion and retention of women is in the early stage in their academic careers, when they are assistant professors attempting to achieve tenure. Women faculty experience greater demands for committee service and mentoring of women students; inadequate recognition of and support for dependent care responsibilities; and limited support in the form of mentors, collaborators, and role models. The small number of women at senior levels is due in part to early attrition in the junior ranks.

Women faculty at all ranks continue to describe their difficulties in juggling teaching, research, formal and informal advising, departmental and University-wide committee service, and family responsibilities. The majority of female faculty do not feel that these difficulties arise from overt or systematic discrimination, but rather from the interaction between a system that is becoming increasingly demanding and competitive, and their personal lives, which are often more complex than those of their male colleagues because of dependent care responsibilities.

It is also clear that despite the efforts of many people, we still suffer gender-based inequities with respect to resources made available to individual faculty members in areas such as startup salaries, access to funding for the summer months, laboratory space and office space.

back to top

The Culture

While the low participation of women in senior faculty ranks and among the University leadership may be due in part to the pipeline effect of inadequate numbers of women at lower ranks, this absence of senior women could also be due to the degree to which senior men faculty and administrators set the rules and perform the evaluations in a way--whether overt or unintended--that is biased against women.

Surveys to identify the barriers to success and comments on equity in hiring, promotion, and workload reveal a general discontent about the department and university climate in which faculty women must work. Many view the University as being intolerant. They feel frustrated in a system that they see as unworkable. They believe that old boy networks abound. Women feel that in order to succeed they must play by the rules that have been previously set up by the men in their fields. They also suggest there may be differences in styles between the two genders which further increase the difficulty of female faculty in achieving their career goals.

While some women feel at ease within the existing male-designed system, many others see themselves as isolated, lacking mentors, and not being included in various local and national networks. One notes, „My profession is male- oriented and very egalitarian. The men are willing to treat everyone the same as long as you act like a man.¾

In raising these concerns about the campus culture, women do not seek special privileges. But they recognize that the rules have been made largely by men to benefit men. These must now be modified to accommodate women as well. Women seek equal support for equal effort.

back to top

University Leadership Roles

Many concerns derive from the extreme concentration of women in positions of lower status and power--as students, lower level staff, and junior faculty. The most effective lever for change may well be a rapid increase in the number of women holding positions of high status, visibility, and power. This would not only change the balance of power in decision-making, but it would also change the perception of who and what matters in the University. Yet here we face a particular challenge.

The University of Michigan has acquired an external image as a tough and unforgiving place for women in senior academic or staff leadership roles. Furthermore, there is a sense that many women have accepted or been assigned roles of considerable responsibility without adequate authority to succeed in the position. The number of women faculty and staff in key administrative posts is unacceptably low. For example, over the past several years, the University has lost several women in senior leadership positions (including three deans, one chancellor, two associate vice presidents, and two directors). Although in most of these cases, women leaders went on to more senior positions elsewhere, the fact that the University was unable to retain them or recruit other women into these senior positions is a reason for concern. Many academic and administrative units have no women in key leadership positions.

back to top

Women of Color

Women of color can face the double jeopardy of racial and gender discrimination. While the Michigan Mandate has made some progress in increasing the representation of women of color among both faculty and students, they still face many special needs and concerns in achieving full participation in the University. Today, only 3.1 percent of tenure/tenure-track faculty are women of color. Furthermore, the proportion of women faculty of color who achieve promotion is lower than that of either men of color or white women.

So too, women staff of color face particular challenges. Job segregation and promotion among staff are particularly important issues.

back to top

Staff Issues

The great economic growth of this nation during the 1970s and 1980s was due in part to women entering the labor force. Today this increased participation has reached a plateau, in large measure because of artificial barriers our society has imposed on women moving up the career ladder. There is a concern that at the University, we simply do not do an adequate job of placing women in the key staff positions that get them ready for senior assignments. Women are not provided with adequate stepping stones to senior management, and many believe they are all too frequently used as stepping stones for others.

Women leaders have long urged adoption of a philosophy of staff development and programs to implement it. Although the M-Qualify effort seeks to address these staff developments, it is also obvious that we need a far more aggressive approach.

Salary equity and compensation are now the pre-eminent issues facing staff women. Data from the Michigan College and University Personnel Association show that University of Michigan staff salaries are now less competitive than they were a few years ago; in many cases, salaries in the lowest paid classifications have eroded most. We should aim at providing equal salaries and benefits for equal work that are independent of gender.

It is clear that we need to rethink our philosophy of staff benefits. There is a need to move to more flexible benefits plans which can be tailored to the employee's particular situation (e.g., child care rather than dependent health care). Furthermore, we should aim at providing equal benefits for equal work that are independent of gender.

back to top

Pipeline Concerns

Despite the efforts to document the „pipeline¾ challenges faced by each academic unit of the University (i.e., by examining pools of prospective women students, undergraduate concentrators, graduate students, and faculty at various ranks), little progress has been made in developing and implementing specific strategies to deal with underrepresentation where it is acute. Such efforts are particularly necessary in areas where women are seriously underrepresented either on faculties or in the professions.

back to top

Student Issues

While Michigan attracts outstanding women students to its various academic programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels, many others are deterred from applying to or attending the University because of perceptions concerning the environment for women at Michigan. Indeed, parents sometimes convey concerns about sending their daughters to the University and sometimes even encourage them to consider institutions with reputations for being more supportive of and providing more opportunities to women. We should move immediately to bring University policies and practices into better alignment with the needs and concerns of women students in a number of areas including campus safety, student housing, student life, financial aid, and child care.

Of course, over the longer term it is essential that we attract more women into senior faculty and leadership roles if we are to be able to attract top women students. Furthermore, as one of the nation's leading sources of scientists and engineers, the University simply must do more to encourage and support women in these fields of study--fields from which women have for decades been discouraged from entering.

back to top

The Campus Environment

Most women faculty, students, and staff succeed admirably in working and learning at the University. Nonetheless, they struggle against subtle pressures, discrimination, and a still-common feeling of invisibility. Removing barriers and encouraging women¼s full participation will transform the University, creating a community in which women and men share equal freedom, partnership, and responsibility.

back to top

The Commitment

The University of Michigan is far from where we should be--from where we must be--in creating an institution that provides the full array of opportunities and support for women faculty, students, and staff. Despite the efforts of many committed women and men over the past several decades, progress has been slow and frustrating. Women deserve to be full members and equal partners in the life of the University. Removing barriers and encouraging women¼s participation in the full array of University activities will transform the University, creating a community in which women and men share equal freedom, partnership, and responsibility.

The University of Michigan has an opportunity to emerge as a leader in providing expanded roles for women in higher education. But to earn this leadership, to achieve the vision proposed by the Michigan Agenda, it will be necessary to change the University in very profound, pervasive, and permanent ways. Real progress toward full participation for women will require shifts in perspective in every aspect of University life. The actions we take should serve as catalysts not just for changes in the policies and procedures by which this institution is governed, but more fundamentally for changes in the understanding, attitudes, and behavior of its members.

It is incumbent upon those at the highest levels of leadership in the University, including the President in particular, to commit themselves to launching, managing, and sustaining the necessary process of institutional change.

As President, I am prepared to make this commitment to lead the University toward the vision articulated in the Michigan Agenda. I feel quite strongly about the importance of a commitment to fulfilling this agenda for several reasons: First and fundamentally, I believe it is the right thing to do. The University has a moral responsibility to pursue equity and social justice for every individual. These values are fundamental to the institution and to its mission. The equal participation of women is a matter of justice and democratic rights, too long deferred and too often denied. The cost to women--and to the rest of us--is high. Full gender equity is not only essential for women, but it is indisputably in the University¼s best interest, given the growing number and influence of women in the educational arena, the workplace, and in the University¼s own alumnae population. If Michigan is to be a leader in higher education, it must be at the forefront in assuring equity for women in all aspects of the life of the institution.

The second reason for my commitment to the Michigan Agenda is more pragmatic. If our nation is to thrive in the next century, it must call on the talents of all our people. In my role as chair of the National Science Board, I have become painfully aware that the underrepresentation of women in many fields of science and technology seriously threatens our nation¼s security and well-being. As we move into an era of increasing diversity where knowledge is becoming ever more important to our society and to the world, we simply cannot ignore talents represented by over one-half of the population. Bringing women into full partnership in academia is a national imperative. Given the impending shortages of faculty, scientists, and educated professionals in many fields, it is clear that women¼s contributions will be increasingly critical to higher education and to the public and private sectors of our economy and society.

Third, I am absolutely convinced that the strong involvement of women in all aspects of the University will be key to the quality of our teaching and research missions. The perspectives and theoretical interpretations of women are fundamental to the integrity of our teaching and research and to the vigor and vitality of our education, scholarship, service, and communal life. The scholarly contributions of women strengthen and invigorate our intellectual climate and academic standing in many ways.

And finally, a personal comment is in order. I am fortunate to be a husband, a father, a friend, and a colleague of many talented, wise, energetic, and determined women. Through these relationships, I have come to see and understand some of the barriers--large and small--that continue to prevent women from achieving their full potential and contributing their great talents and leadership, not just to this University, but to society at large. And I have learned that at times my male-biased view of the world was just plain wrong!

Of course my education on these issues is far from complete. Indeed, this evolving plan reflects in part my own education concerning the challenges facing women at Michigan. But it also reflects the advice, counsel, and judgment of scores of women across this campus and beyond, who have helped to shape its evolving form. Their concerns, wisdom, and commitment have convinced me that achieving the goals of the Michigan Agenda is a compelling necessity both for this University and for our society.

back to top

The Task Ahead

If we are to make Michigan the University of choice for women seeking leadership roles in our society, we must be brutally honest in evaluating our efforts to date. We have tried many, many things. Hundreds of dedicated members of the University community--women and men--have worked long and hard to bring women more fully into the life of the University.

But our actions to date, while characterized by the best of intentions, have been ad hoc, lacking in coherence, too independent of one another, lacking precise goals and strategies, and providing no assurance of progress. Beyond a deep commitment, we also need a bold strategic plan characterized by firm goals. Programs can be tested against these goals, and our progress can be accurately measured and shared with the broader University community.

In this spirit, then, let me share with you a preliminary sketch of just such a plan. In this effort I will seek to recommend:

Although there are a variety of formal approaches to strategic planning, I have adopted the following framework in designing a plan for action.

  1. Vision and Values
  2. Environmental Assessment
  3. Goals
  4. Strategic Actions
  5. Tactics
  6. Assessment and Evaluation

Earlier in this document I have discussed the present challenges for women at Michigan--the "environmental assessment." Below I will focus on the remaining steps in the strategic process.

back to top

The Vision and the Values

The Michigan Agenda Vision Statement:

By the Year 2000, the University of Michigan will become the leader among American universities in promoting and achieving the success of womenof diverse backgrounds as faculty, students, and staff.

In framing this challenge, we accept certain values as fundamental to the University :

  1. Education: Education is the fundamental mission of the University. Educating ourselves is also critical. If the University is to make progress, we must all be willing to educate ourselves about gender issues and be committed to working together to achieve equity.
  2. Community: The University is often described as a community of scholars. In its weakest sense, a community is a group of people who share an institutional structure with norms and expectations about behavior. Under this concept the most we can hope for is tolerance of the differences among us. I believe that this institution must strive to be a community in the stronger sense-- that is, a group of people who are genuinely interdependent; who respect, value, and seek understanding of our differences; and whose practices nurture both the institution as a whole and all of its individual members and diverse sub-groups.
  3. Investment in People: The University is fundamentally reliant upon the knowledge, creativity, skills, and leadership of the people within it. To flourish, the University must invest in the intellect, commitment, and creativity of all of its people, removing all barriers of gender, race, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, or disability. To this end, the University needs to translate its stated commitment into actions which support human aspirations, development, and achievement as well as into actions which mobilize the best efforts of all its members toward the achievement of our common goals.
  4. Leadership: Leadership is fundamental to the achievement of gender equity. University leaders at all levels of the institution need to consistently address gender-related issues affecting faculty, students and staff in order to foster positive change in the units for which they are responsible and should regularly assess the progress of such change. Key to this effort is the presence of women in positions of leadership at all levels of the institution.

back to top

Fundamental Goals

To move the University toward the vision of the Michigan Agenda, we propose the following specific goals:

Goal 1: To create a University climate that fosters the success of women faculty, students, and staff by drawing upn the strengths of our diversity..

Goal 2: To achieve full representation, participation, and success of women faculty in the academic life and leadership of the University.

Goal 3: To make the University the academic institution of choice for women students aspiring to leadership roles in our society.

Goal 4: To make the University the employer of choice for women staff who seek satisfying and rewarding careers and to provide opportunities for women staff who seek leadership roles.

Goal 5: To make the University the leading institution for the study of women and women's issues.

back to top

Stratigic Actions

The University intends to launch a series of actions in various areas to achieve these goals. It should be noted at the outset while these actions are intended to address the concerns of women students, faculty, and staff, many of them are quite gender-independent. Just as the Michigan Agenda will require a commitment from the entire University community, so too will its success benefit us all, regardless of gender.

These actions, along with others detailed throughout this document, will require the commitment of significant resources. However, neither the potential of nor the commitment to the Michigan Agenda should be measured in terms of resource commitments alone.

Action 1: General Commitment

Objective: Achieve a University-wide commitment to the vision and goals of the Michigan Agenda.

Actions:

***Create an institutional commitment to national leadership in providing significantly expanded roles for University of Michigan women in higher education.

***Conduct an extensive series of presidential townhall meetings with campus groups of faculty, staff, and students to learn more about the challenges faced by women and the steps which might be taken to address these challenges.

***Develop a strategic plan to design and implement the Michigan Agenda for Women.

Use the President's Advisory Commission on Women's Issues as an executive committee in this strategic process.

Establish an Implementation Team comprised of Executive Officers, Deans, Directors, and University Leaders to execute and evaluate actions taken through the Michigan Agenda.

Develop an institutional framework through which women¼s issues and perspectives can become embedded in the University¼s policy and practice.

Action 2: Assessment of Gender Equity

Objective: To develop and implement ongoing efforts to evaluate and achieve gender equity in all facets of University life.

General Actions:

***Gather data on the representation and experiences of women students, faculty, and staff at the University to assist both in informing the University community and designing an effective strategic plan to address these challenges.

***Ask each unit to develop and implement ongoing internal assessments of gender patterns in compensation and resource allocations to faculty, staff, and students.

Augment these unit assessments with ongoing University surveys of gender equity in salaries, benefits, and appointment levels for faculty and staff.

Monitor gender equity for faculty support (startup funds, laboratory and office space, clerical support, teaching and committee assignments, discretionary resources) and student support (financial aid, RAs, TAs).

Monitor gender equity for staff and administrative appointments, including personnel classification, reporting lines, responsibility and authority for budgets and staff, opportunities for advancement, etc.

***Require all units to develop plans to address any gender inequities and hold both units and their leadership accountable for these efforts.

Action 3: Faculty Hiring and Retention

Objective: Seek to develop strong incentives for recruiting women faculty while identifying and eliminating existing disincentives.

General Action:

***Develop and implement a targeted strategy specific to each unit for dramatically increasing the presence and participation of women staff at all ranks where women are underrepresented, with special attention to increasing the presence and participation of women of color.

***Commit the full resources necessary to reach the goal of the appointment and retention of 10 new senior women faculty, with the intent of continuing this program upon reaching this first goal.

Establish stronger administrative mandates and accountability regarding hiring, retention, and promotion/tenure for women faculty and staff.

Continue the Special Hiring and Recruitment Effort (SHARE) for senior women faculty.

Launch a program to conduct exit interviews with women faculty leaving the University.

Related Actions:

Develop and implement more creative approaches to the hiring of women faculty, including:

  1. special efforts to hire dual career academic couples
  2. "cluster" hiring of faculty groups in key areas
  3. enlarging the national pool of senior women by utilizing nontraditional sources such as government and industry.
  4. establishing college-wide (or, in some cases, University-wide) recruiting teams to identify and attract senior women faculty of unusual stature or in key targeted areas.
  5. provide funds for recruiting visits by additional women candidates in faculty recruiting efforts

Develop better procedures to monitor the hiring of women faculty, including:

  1. special oversight of faculty hiring activities in schools/colleges/departments with poor track records.
  2. monitoring hiring packages (salaries, startup funds, laboratory space, and other aspects of hiring agreements) to ensure gender equity.

Action 4: Supporting the Success of Women Faculty

Objective: Identify and remove institutional barriers to the success of women faculty and ensure equitable access to opportunities for professional development and success.

Actions:

***Establish a Presidential Commission to evaluate and restructure faculty tenure and promotion policies to better reflect the contemporary nature of University teaching, research, and service and the increasing diversity of our faculty.

Invite units to rethink, broadly and regardless of gender, the issue of role and time commitment of faculty, especially in the early stages of their careers.

***Create a Faculty Women Career Development Fund to help address the heavy service contributions carried by many women faculty through the provision of funds to assist in their scholarship.

Assess the effectiveness of the mentoring of junior women faculty and develop recommendations for improving this activity.

Assess the workloads of faculty members in all units of the University from the perspective of gender equity and, where necessary, take appropriate action to modify or recognize these workloads.

Continue efforts to acknowledge and address the special family responsibilities of women faculty (including child care and elder care).

***Increase the number of women faculty recognized by named professorships, including the Distinguished University Professors and privately-endowed chairs.

Other Possible Actions:

Promotion:

Equity:

Opportunities:

Action 5: Women in University Leadership Roles

Objective: To increase women¼s presence and success in University leadership roles (both faculty and staff).

Actions:

***Increase the presence of women in key University leadership positions (executive officers, deans, directors, chairs, and other senior positions).

**Identify women with interests in and potential for leadership and provide them with the experiences necessary to prepare for these roles.

***Develop a program of management training for faculty newly appointed as chairs, deans, and senior administrators.

***Develop programs to provide high level employment and training experiences for staff.

Improve the retention of women in leadership roles by addressing institutional climate issues that negatively affect recruiting and retention of women leaders.

Ensure gender balance on committees advising senior officers of the University.

Develop high-level internships (e.g., at 0.25 FTE levels) in the central administration to provide leadership development experiences for women faculty, staff, and administrators without requiring them to abandon their other responsibilities.

Expand the Management Institute to serve all administrative and academic management areas.

Action 6: Women of Color

Objective: To increase the representation of women of color as faculty, students, and staff members, and provide the support necessary for their success and achievement.

Actions:

***Conduct a series of presidential forums with women students, staff, and faculty of color to learn their specific concerns and to work with these groups to develop appropriate actions.

***Develop and implement measures to ensure that women of color are full beneficiaries of all components of the Michigan Agenda for Women and the Michigan Mandate.

***Charge the President's Advisory Commission on Multicultural Affairs and the President's Advisory Commission on Women's Issues to work together to develop specific goals and recommendations that will address the concerns of women of color, including opportunities for staff and faculty advancement.

Encourage deans and chairs to recognize and respond creatively to the heavy workload carried by faculty women of color.

Address the concerns of women staff of color, particularly with respect to job assignments and opportunities for advancement.

Address the special challenges faced by women students of color.

Ensure that all data on faculty status or progress are routinely analyzed in terms of both race and gender.

Analyze the results of the overlapping programs, e.g.,

Action 7: Family Issues

Objective: Make the University a place where faculty, staff, and students are able to balance and integrate work and family life to the benefit of both.

Actions:

Strive to make the University a place where women faculty, staff, and students and staff can be successful and still achieve the goals of their personal lives.

***Develop and adopt a University-wide policy encouraging management flexibility in managing the intersection of work and family responsibilities for faculty, staff, and students.

***Assess University policies, practices, and procedures from the viewpoint of family responsibilities (e.g., child care, elder care) and implement appropriate actions.

Continue efforts to better align policies and procedures for faculty and staff promotion with family responsibilities of women (both child and elder care).

Ensure any flexible benefits program meets the needs of women faculty and staff members, e.g., by including family-centered benefits (e.g., child care, elder care) in the program.

Create a high-level task force, charged by Provost and Vice-President for Student Affairs, to investigate and address the needs of students with families.

Action 8: Women Student Issues

Objective: To develop and implement a comprehensive plan to enhance the presence and success of women students in all areas of the University.

Actions:

***Launch a series of forums and roundtable discussions to identify key issues of concern to women students and design effective strategies for addressing these concerns.

***Charge the Executive Board of the Rackham Graduate School with the task of working with graduate programs to address the concerns of women graduate students.

Develop and implement a comprehensive plan for recruiting outstanding women students--particularly in underrepresented areas such as the sciences.

Include in faculty workshops and programs as well as in TA training substantive content which will increase the understanding of the academic climate for women students and better equip them to create a classroom climate that is fair and supportive.

Build on successful programs such as the Women in Science effort to retain students at the undergraduate level and encourage them to pursue graduate studies.

Develop and implement programs to support academic success for women students.

Intercollegiate Athletics

Action 9: Women Staff

Objective: To provide women staff with opportunities for career development and advancement.

Actions:

***Develop and implement a targeted strategy specific to each unit for dramatically increasing the presence and participation of women staff at all ranks where women are underrepresented, with special attention to increasing the presence and participation of women of color.

***Develop a program of career development and training for those staff or faculty with potential for administrative or academic leadership roles.

Develop and execute plans to implement the recent statement on the University philosophy of human resource development.

***Working closely with various job families, developing a consultation and conciliation service to augment the current staff grievance process.

Work actively to encourage and implement more flexible workplace policies that recognize the family responsibilities of staff.

Analyze those job categories which have traditionally been dominated by women to address gender and racial equity concerns and provide better opportunities for advancement.

Ask each unit to develop plans and commit resources for staff development and regularly review these activities at the central level.

Action 10: The Environment for Women

Objective: Create an environment within the University that is nurturing and supportive for women students, faculty, and staff.

Action:

***Conduct ongoing surveys on the quality of the University environment for women students, faculty, staff, and administrators.

Develop both formal and informal programs to educate all University faculty, staff, and students about the importance of creating a campus climate more hospitable to and supportive of the success of women.

***Create a climate which permits and develops opportunities for the full participation of women staff, faculty, and students in decision- making processes.

***Design and implement a campus-wide program for students, faculty, and staff aimed at eliminating violence against women and discouraging the presence of behavior or activities that degrade women through the formation of a Task Force on Violence Against Women.

Launch a similar effort aimed at eradicating violence in the workplace.

***Continue the effort to implement fully the University policy prohibiting sexual harassment, including providing adequate central staffing to support the program, fully informing the campus community about the policy, training individuals at both the central and unit level to handle incidents, streamlining the present system for handling complaints, and reporting to the community about these activities.

Modify parking regulations to allow students to park in University lots after hours.

Launch a major effort to improve campus safety through increased lighting on campus.

Action 11: Research and Curriculum

Objective: To launch and sustain key academic thrusts focused on the study of women and women's issues.

Action:

***Develop and execute a plan to make the University the leading institution for the study of women and gender issues. To strengthen and extend research and instructional activities

concerned with women and women's issues.

Sustain the Women's Studies Program and expand its influence on teaching and scholarship across the University.

***Establish a new Institute for Research on Gender and Feminism.

Make the University of Michigan a leader in the study of the role of women in developing and developed nations.

Coordinate the capacities of key University units such as CEW, Women¼s Studies, CRLT, IPPS, and Schools & Colleges.

Action 12: Identification and Support of Change Agents

Objective: To identify and mobilize key leadership among faculty, students, and staff.

Action:

back to top

Tactical Implementation

In considering the tactical implementation of these actions, it is important to recognize that different strategies may be necessary for different parts of the University. Units face a wide range of differing challenges. Some, such as the physical sciences, have few women represented among their students and faculty. For them, it will be necessary to design and implement a strategy which spans the entire pipeline, from K-12 outreach to undergraduate and graduate education, to faculty recruiting and development. For others such as the social sciences or Law, there is already a strong pool of women students, and hence the challenge becomes attracting women from this pool into graduate studies and academe. Still other units such as Education and many departments in LS&A have strong participation of women among students and junior faculty, but suffer from low participation in the senior ranks.

Academic units vary enormously in the degree to which women participate as faculty, staff, and students. There is also a great deal of variation among non-academic administrative areas of the University, with many having little tradition of women in key management positions.

Over the course of the next several months, each unit will be asked to develop and submit a specific plan for addressing the role of women. These plans will be reviewed centrally, and the progress of each unit will then be measured against their plan each year, as part of the normal interaction associated with budget discussions. The challenge here will be to create a process that both permits central initiative and preserves the potential for local development of unit-specific action plans.

The basic leadership structure for the Michigan Agenda is show below:

In this diagram we have noted that the President will be directly responsible for the leadership of this effort. The President's Advisory Commission on Women's Issues (PACWI) will play a key executive role in evaluating and refining the plan as well as evaluating progress toward its various goals. The execution of the plan will be assisted by a small implementation team consisting of key executive officers, deans, directors, faculty, and staff, and chaired by the President. To build the broader involvement of the campus community necessary for the success of the Michigan Agenda, many of its actions will be carried out by a series of presidential commissions, task forces, and focus groups reporting to the Implementation Team (and hence to the President).

The success of this effort will also depend on the involvement of a number of important women's organizations in this effort, including the Women of Color Task Force, the Academic Women's Caucus, and the Commission for Women.

back to top

Evaluation and Assessment

An array of evaluation and assessment measures will be necessary:

  1. The Office of Academic Planning and Analysis can provide institutional data on the participation of women in each unit of the University and for the University as a whole. These data will be shared directly with deans and directors and also published annually for the University community at large.
  2. Further, there should be an annual report to the University community concerning progress on the Michigan Women's Agenda.
  3. Various leadership groups including the executive officers, deans, directors, and other senior managers should meet regularly to discuss issues related to the Michigan Women's Agenda.
  4. The President's Advisory Commission on Women's Issues will play an executive role in this plan, helping to shape various recommendations, assisting in their implementation, and measuring their success.

back to top

Conclusion

The Michigan Agenda for Women : Leadership for a New Century aims at building a working and learning environment in which women can participate to their fullest. This document represents a beginning, the sketch of a vision and a plan that will evolve over time as it is shaped through the interaction with broader elements of the University community. However, the commitment to move ahead will not change, nor will my belief that the greatness of our University will be determined by the degree to which women are able to assume their rightful role as members and leaders in our community.

Over a century ago, President Angell articulated the mission of the University of Michigan as providing "an uncommon education for the common man." Today, as we prepare the University for leadership in the century ahead, it is time to modify that mission to read "an uncommon education for all . . . with the ability to succeed . . . and the will to lead."

Acknowledgment: This document has benefited greatly from the advice and counsel of a number of individuals and groups. Of particular note has been the degree to which many of the goals and actions proposed in this plan have been drawn from the planning activity of the President's Advisory Commission on Women's Issues. The plan has also been heavily influenced by discussions with many women faculty, students, and staff. These values have been adapted from an earlier planning document drafted by the President's Advisory Commission on Women's Issues. Asterisks (***) denote actions of particular significance.

back to top