2009 Task Force Report

In August of 1993, the President of the University of Louisville created a Task Force to assess the status of women at the University and to make recommendations based on their findings, to improve this status.

The specific charge to the Task Force was as follows:

Review the status of women at the University of Louisville, focusing on four critical areas:

The representation of women in the University’s administration, faculty, and staff including full-time and part-time positions, the distribution of women in the various ranks and steps, their distribution among the schools and colleges, their rates of advancement and promotion to tenure, and their concentration in certain ranks and categories.
The recruitment, hiring, retention, and promotion of women, including employment policies and practices, internal job mobility, reclassification, transfers, performance evaluation, obstacles to advancement, and the promotional opportunities available to women.
The compensation of women, including an analysis of salaries and wages, benefits, and possible institutional gender-based inequities in compensation.
The institutional climate and work environment for women, including sexual harassment, professional development, possible differential treatment based on gender, leadership opportunities, institutional awareness of women’s special problems, recognition of women’s achievements, mentoring, and sexism in the workplace.

Recommend specific actions that could be taken – at the university-wide level and at operational levels – to resolve any problems identified by the Task Force.

Recommend whether additional studies should be undertaken in other areas of particular interest to women at the University of Louisville.

The members of the Task Force were selected by the President after considering recommendations from the Women’s Advisory Committee and President’s Staff.  The strength of this Task Force was in the diversity of its membership.  Members of the Task Force represented diverse gender, ethnic, and university personnel categories.

The efforts of the Task Force were also strengthened by the active participation of two female members of the University Board of Trustees.  A total of $50, 000 in funding and the time of a staff member from the President’s Office were provided to support the work of the Task Force.  These funds were used to provide replacement instruction from some members, to conduct data collection and analysis, to print copies of the final report, and to cover the expenses for a national consultant on gender equity in higher education.

The Task Force was headed by co-chairs and was divided into five working committees.  Four of these committees were structured around substantive issues:  Representation and Compensation, Retention, Recruitment, and Campus Climate and Environment.  The fifth working committee was the Research and Methodology Committee which functioned to assist the substantive committees in the collection and analysis of data and information.

The distinction made between the substantive issues during committee work was simply a means of providing direction and an area of emphasis for each group.  The members of the Task Force recognized that organizational or campus climate was the overriding factor in determining the status of women at the University of Louisville and served to direct the outcome of the formal and informal institutional practices that affected this status.  The members of the Task Force also recognized it was impossible to view retention, recruitment, and representation as discrete factors.  They are highly interrelated and function interdependently to determine the status of women at the University.

The Task Force conducted nine open forums, six focus groups, a university-wide employee survey, individual interviews and several specialized surveys as part of its process.  University policies, publications, and programs were additionally reviewed.  Based on their findings, each of the committees prepared draft reports which were then combined, revised and edited to form the basis for the recommendations and justifications contained in this report.  Detailed findings from the university employee survey, detailed data and analytic findings, as well as additional charts and graphs were used to develop the current recommendations are contained in the Appendix Volume to this report.

The recommendations of the Task Force have been written as general goals.  Each of the eleven recommendations contains numerous objectives for specific implementation.  The report contains a listing of the specific objectives as well as issues which deserve further assessment.  Summary justification for each of the goals and objectives are provided.  These justifications are based on the findings of the Task Force.  In some instances, the Task Force had to rely on qualitative information since much quantitative information, especially at the unit and departmental levels was not available and quantitative information obtained through specialized surveys and interviews was not complete.

In many instances, justification for the goals and objectives is, in part, based on the findings of the employee survey conducted by the Task Force.  Rather than include repetitive statements concerning the limitations, methodology, etc. in each section where these finds are used, we have included a section in the appendix which contains methodology and a complete discussion of survey findings.  As stated in the survey summary in the appendix, only those findings which were statistically significant at .05 or better were included in this report.  Additionally, it is worth noting that given the small number of African American women and/or women in administrator, faculty, and professional/administrative positions at the University, trends were sometimes identified for these groups in comparison to others while noting they were not statistically significant due to the small numbers of individual in these categories.

The members of the Task Force would like to express their appreciation to President Swain for recognizing the need for this Task Force and for his support of our efforts.  We thank the members of the Board of Trustees for their ongoing leadership and oversight of our deliberations.  We thank Anne Allen from the President’s Office for providing excellent support throughout the process.  We also extend our appreciation to Dr. Pat Gagne, Dr. Kay Kirby and Dr. Kathy Werking for their assistance as women’s studies scholars; Ms. Katherine Wilder and Ms. Connie Shumake from the Office of Planning and Budget for providing institutional data and reviewing our analytic findings; Ms. Candalyn Fryrear for her word processing and survey distribution assistance; Dr. Gale Rhodes for her work as a facilitator for the focus groups; Dr. Dale Billingsley for his continued support of our efforts; and Ms. Beverly Daly for her research assistance.  But, most importantly, we are especially grateful to those employees of the University of Louisville who took the time to express their concerns and opinions, to complete surveys, participate in forums and focus groups, and to provide the Task Force with the information necessary to conduct its work.

Access, Opportunity, and Achievement Fifteen Years Later: A 2009 Update on the 1994 Report of the Task Force on the Status of Women