An e-Portfolio by Kirstin Pantazis

Leading by Example – Gender Equality in Higher Education

Gender inequality is an important issue in higher education and one that will not disappear without concerted effort. I think one of the most important policy changes that can be made is that there must be representation on hiring committees. This must be more than tokenism and should reflect what the institution wants to see rather than what is currently at the institution. Further, when determining where there are discrepancies, data should always be disaggregated so that institutions have clear pictures of where women, and other minorities, are being hired and how much they are being paid. Included in the hiring process should be policy that requires the advertising of all positions in diverse places.

I would like to see the state review and rework its hiring policies and then retrain its Human Resource heads. Currently, many state agencies have very strict hiring guidelines that keep interviews to short timelines and allow no variation in the questions posed to any interviewee. We know that this way is not working to diversify our institutions. I believe that the process should be amended to require diversity training of all hiring committees and then to trust in those committees. To give the committees more leeway than is currently given so that they can ask follow-up questions or pose questions in their own words. Hiring rubrics should consider the many non-traditional (non-white middle-class male) ways in which an interviewee may have gained experience.

Once hired, institutions should work to ensure that they are welcoming places for all their employees. This means being open to the possibility that there are problems on campus and maintaining rigorous systems that encourage feedback and complaints and that root out inequity when it is found. Policy must be made that requires the highest levels of administration to regularly receive bias training that asks them to examine their own behaviors, attitudes, and words. Trust must be built, through the dedicated efforts of all, to ensure that institutions are aware and ahead of any potential inequity or discriminatory actions.

I also believe that there should be institutional policy that requires annual review of pay to check for gender discrepancy and ensure equitable pay across gender. Additionally, higher education should work to move towards a culture that openly discusses pay and benefits rather than one that emphasizes the altruism that is often prized in education. While there are many times when I would argue that education is not a business, in this instance, it is important to treat employees as valued parts of the business and to recognize that they must be compensated for their contributions with tangible benefits rather than with words of praise for their caring/giving natures.

Most importantly, I hope to be the change that I want to see in higher education. I must persist through the disheartening imbalances and inequities that are prevalent in the upper echelons of higher education. My determination must be rooted not only in my desire to improve the higher education system for our students but also in my desire to improve the way the system works for the women that I hope will follow me. I must be willing to endure unequal pay, harassment or discrimination, the ridicule or contempt, and the loneliness of being the only one while I work to pave the way for others. As we have seen in the cases discussed in this class, it is only when we are willing to have our lives made public and to endure the censure that comes from speaking up that we are able to change the larger system for the rest of us. I hope to have the strength to continue to be the change that higher education needs.


Pinning Down an Ever-changing Concept – Title IX Coverage

1 Comment

  1. At VCU, we have the Recruitment Inclusive Champion (RIC) program that started in 2014. I remember when it started and I feel like there was a real energy behind it. Since then, though, I have been on several search committees that were not charged by a RIC. I like the idea of the program and I hope it finds the energy and support it needs to be sustainaed.

    And I trust and believe that you have the strength to be the change you want to see.

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