Commission for Women report reviews status of women at Penn State

University Park, Pa. – From fall 1997 to fall 2007, the percentage of female administrators, faculty and staff has risen in general, according to the new report issued by Penn State’s Commission for Women.

This week, the Commission for Women is distributing the 2007–2008 Report on the Status of Women at Penn State. Prepared by the commission with support from the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity and the University Budget Office, this document presents a snapshot of key gender equity indicators.

"The goal of this report is to publicize baseline demographic and salary data for groups of women faculty, students, and staff relative to their male counterparts," said CFW Chair Molly Wertheimer, professor of communications arts and sciences and women's studies at Penn State Hazleton. "The report represents the first publication of what the commission intends to be a regular, periodic tracking effort. Over time, trends in the data will measure the University’s progress in achieving its goal of gender equity and, equally important, serve to identify areas where additional efforts are warranted.

 "In comparing these two years, the representation of women across the University has generally increased," she adds. "However, there are clearly areas that would benefit from greater representation of women such as vice provost positions, department heads and senior faculty positions."

Within the report, one profile includes the percentages of women in administrator and faculty/staff categories, compared to the total, for fall 2007 and fall 1997. Some highlights are:  

-- Trustees, 22 percent, up from 14 percent;

-- Vice presidents/senior vice presidents, 18 percent ,up from 13 percent;  

-- Associate vice presidents/associate vice provosts, 26 percent up from 12 percent;  

-- Assistant deans, 58 percent, up from 33 percent;

-- Campus chancellors, 45 percent, up from 24 percent;

-- Department heads, 20 percent, up from 11 percent

-- Distinguished professors, 19 percent, up from 10 percent;

-- Evan Pugh professors, 12 percent, up from 0 percent;

-- Full professors, 18 percent, up from 11 percent;

-- Associate professors, 32 percent, up from 23 percent;

-- Assistant professors, 40 percent, up from 35 percent.

Another profile shows that several academic colleges have nearly equal percentages of women students and faculty. A critical mass of female faculty can serve as role models and provide mentoring support to female students.

The College of Information Sciences and Technology reports that female students comprise 14 percent and women faculty at 30 percent; the Dickinson School of Law has 44 percent female students with 47 percent n faculty.
Other highlights are:

-- Arts and Architecture, 57 percent female students, 44 percent female faculty;

-- Smeal College of Business, 34 percent female students, compared with 26 percent female faculty;

-- Earth and Mineral Sciences, 28 percent female students, 23 percent female faculty;

-- Engineering, 16 percent female students, 15 percent female faculty;

-- Health and Human Development, 67 percent female students, 60 percent female faculty;

-- Liberal Arts, 51 percent female students, 47 percent female faculty;

-- Non University Park campuses, 47 percent female students, 41 percent female faculty;

-- Great Valley Graduate Center, 45 percent each with female students and faculty.

Other profiles include women faculty at Penn State at all levels, race and ethnicity profiles of female faculty, and staff positions and average salary groups by gender and ethnicity.

The data in the report will provide a foundation so that, in partnership with other Penn State offices and organizations and by using comparable data from peer institutions, the commission can make appropriate recommendations for change.

The status report also will be a resource for others in the University seeking comparative gender-based data. Along with updates to be published in the coming years, the commission anticipates these data will serve to invigorate discussion, research, and action at all Penn State campuses toward advancing gender equity.

"Penn State benefits from ensuring gender equality. Attracting and retaining the widest talent pool is vital in a competitive higher education environment," said Chair-Elect Auden Thomas, director of the Center of Survey Research at Penn State Harrisburg. "Fostering a supportive, safe, and affirming campus climate facilitates full participation of women in every aspect of the University. Equity in policy and in practice enriches and strengthens the entire Penn State community."

The Commission for Women was established in 1981 to serve as an advisory group to the President on issues affecting women and to guide the University in its efforts to enhance the status of women at Penn State. Landmark reports were issued by the commission in 1981 and 2001.

In 2007, using a model brochure produced annually by The Ohio State University, the commission identified key gender equity indicators, and, by working in collaboration with the University Budget Office, amassed demographic and salary data by which to compare women and men across all categories of the University to include students, faculty, staff, and administration.

Copies of the report are available by contacting Carol Ahmed at 814-863-8493 or For more detailed information on women’s status, go to and click on the Reports tab at the top. Additional and expanded data will be posted soon.

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Last Updated January 10, 2015