Commission for Women report reviews status of women at Penn State

May 10, 2013

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- In the past 10 years, women at Penn State have not made progress or have lost ground in several key areas, according to the Status of Women at Penn State, 2001-11 report, issued by Penn State’s Commission for Women (CFW). This report provides a decade-long trend of growth and declines in the numbers of women trustees, administrators, faculty, staff, technical service employees and students at the University during this period.

• The concentration of women on Penn State’s Board of Trustees historically has been low, and the 2012 elections resulted in a decline.
• There is a decline in representation as women’s academic rank increases from instructor to full professor.
• Low numbers of female administrators persist.
• While the concentration of women in medical school and law school are similar to national trends of women’s enrollments, the concentrations of women in undergraduate and graduate studies are below the national trends.

The status report, prepared by the commission with support from the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity and the University Budget Office, presents a decade-long trend of key gender equity indicators. The report uses concentration ratios for each category, which compare the percent of women in a particular group to the percent of women in the overall Penn State population. “It is very important that the commission documents the progress of women at the University. Having this report allows us all to be talking about the same set of facts,” said W. Terrell Jones, vice provost for Educational Equity.

Copies of the report were recently sent to all unit executives.

“While disappointing, this status report serves as a focal point for the Penn State community to have meaningful conversations about the status of women as we continue building a more diverse community that enriches our educational environment, and achieves equity in policy and practice,” noted CFW co-chair Rose Baker.

“The commission must and will continue to advocate for equitable representation of women in the leadership of the University,” said co-chair Cathy Dufour.  “It is critical to ensure that women’s voices are a part of decision-making and direction-setting.”

The Commission for Women was established in 1981 to serve as an advisory group to the President of the University on issues affecting women and to guide the University in its efforts to enhance the status of women at Penn State. Previous status reports were issued by the commission in 1981, 2001 and 2008.

Copies of the report are available on the commission’s website at Please send comments or questions to the co-chairs of the Commission for Women: Rose M. Baker ( and Catherine Dufour ( or the co-chairs of the commission’s Assessment Committee: Lysa Holland ( and David Passmore (

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Last Updated January 10, 2015