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6 Advancing Women to Executive Positions W hen the Committee on Women in Science and Engineering first examined the issue of women in top administrative positions-- presidents, chancellors, provosts, and deans--women were scarcely to be found. That situation has improved remarkably today. As one report put it, women presidents are no longer an anomaly and are now merely a minority (Brown et al., 2001b). Currently, women are presi- dents, provosts, and deans across a range of universities and colleges, including community colleges, liberal arts colleges, the Ivy League, and other research universities. However, the challenge of moving more women into these positions still remains. The relatively few women who do make it into administration also serve as important role models. Judy Hample, chancellor of the Pennsyl- vania State System, has pointed out that the presence of a female or a nonwhite in the president's office "sends a signal [to prospective stu- dents] that the campus environment is friendly to women and minorities in a way that brochures and everything else could not send" (quoted in Schackner, 2005). Indeed, when women hold some of the top jobs at a university, they inspire women at all levels of the university, including faculty and students, by demonstrating that women can do as good a job as men. It may also be the case that women bring unique qualities to the job. Thus as traditional outsiders, women executives may be better able to champion inclusiveness policies and practices. 100
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ADVANCING WOMEN TO EXECUTIVE POSITIONS 101 CHALLENGES Much like the decisions to attend college, major in science or engineering (S&E), and apply for an academic position, pursuing a high- ranking administrator position at a university is a choice. Prospective candidates are already employed: candidates for presidential positions may be provosts; candidates for dean positions may be departmental chairs or faculty (Lively, 2000b.) Moreover, the decision by a university board of trustees to offer a candidate a position is also a choice. The interaction of these two decisions determines the number of men and women in top executive positions at universities. If women are less inter- ested in applying for such positions, or if university decision makers are less interested in choosing a female candidate, then the number of women top administrators will be low. "Improving but low" is a phrase that best characterizes the current situation. There seems to be many more qualified female candidates than the number of women in administrative positions (Lively, 2000a, b; Rivard, 2003). Lively (2000b:34) notes Many elite universities, particularly private ones, didn't even accept fe- male students or begin hiring female professors in significant numbers until the late 1960's. Those were the years when most of the current female provosts earned their Ph.D.'s and found jobs as assistant professors. During the late 70's, the 80's, and the early 90's, they earned tenure, became full professors, and went on to serve as department chairwomen, deans, and in other posts that allowed them to demonstrate their administrative talents. By the mid to late 1990's, there were enough well-credentialed women in the right kinds of jobs to provide search committees with the pools nec- essary to name some as provosts. "Today, only one in five college presidents is a woman, despite the fact that 40 percent of faculty and administrators are women. Clearly, the pipeline is primed" (Van Ummersen, 2001). As noted in Chapter 4 on faculty recruitment, the issue of recruiting more women faculty has moved beyond the "pipeline" metaphor, and now focuses on whether prospective women faculty might face other obstacles. This finding should serve as a useful reminder to recruiters to consider whether the only obstacle to a greater presence of women among top university leadership is simply the lack of enough qualified women. Moreover, the major re- search universities have lower percentages of women in top jobs than other types of higher education institutions. The American Council on Education (ACE) conducts the American College President Study. In 2001 it found that, overall, 21 percent of college and university presidents were female. Twenty-seven percent of presidents at two-year colleges were
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102 TO RERCUIT AND ADVANCE WOMEN STUDENTS AND FACULTY female, but only 12 percent of presidents at doctorate-granting institu- tions were female. These statistics were borne out to the committee during its site visits. Even in noteworthy institutions, women were largely absent from posi- tions such as dean or department chair. At one university visited, at the highest levels--deans, provost, and chancellor--most administrators were male. The provost admitted that he did not "feel too good about it." He said that two recent senior administration searches had come down to several female and male candidates and that the male was chosen in both searches. By placing women in top administrative positions, universities may be able to inspire women students and faculty and therefore increase the chances that women faculty are recruited and advanced. The fact that there are growing numbers of women qualified to hold administrative positions, but relatively few do so particularly in major research universities, may be explained by one of two possibilities. One possibility is that various types of higher education institutions have to be treated differently because they have different applicant pools, and women are less likely to be found in the pools for major research univer- sities. The other possibility is that there is one large applicant pool and that some other factor is tending to hinder women's advancement in the major research universities. A number of researchers have offered suggestions about what that other factor might be. One issue that complicates the answer is that at times the same candidate takes a top administrative job at different schools at different times. As a result, the number of women in such positions appears larger because a few women are rotating through jobs at different institutions. (However, the number of institutions that have had female top administrators would then rise.) The pipeline issue aside, what other factors may explain the current dearth of women leaders? One factor is that institutions have broadened the search for top administrators in ways that unintentionally reduce the odds that a woman will succeed. Increasingly universities are turning to candidates outside of higher education--that is, prospective leaders whose immediate prior position was not in academia. In 2001, 15 percent of presidents fell into this category. The concern is that a broader appli- cant pool that includes individuals from outside of academia might con- tain a lot more male candidates. A second factor is that women are less interested in such positions than in others because the benefits are lower for women, and the costs, such as the workload, are higher. Indeed, women presidents are distin- guished by more than their gender. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, in 2001 only four women were among the top 50 presidents with the largest compensation packages (Nicklin, 2001).
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ADVANCING WOMEN TO EXECUTIVE POSITIONS 103 A third factor is discrimination. Search committees may be less in- clined to hire a woman for president because of "concerns about her abilities to work closely with a predominantly male faculty and senior management team; `style' issues that are less demonstrable than experi- ence and ability; and, in the case of minority women, hidden reservations toward females and people of color" (Haro, 1991). One report suggested that boards prefer to hire married candidates--and as noted above, more male candidates than women candidates, in percentage terms, are likely to be married (Brown et al., 2001b). BOX 6-1 Summary of Challenges There are fewer women top administrators than might be expected by simply viewing the proportion of senior women. The pipeline may still be small. Universities are increasingly searching in areas dominated by male candi- dates. Women may show less interest in top administration positions, because they perceive the job to be less satisfying or to offer fewer rewards. Discrimination may hinder the advancement of women. STRATEGIES President Shirley Tilghman of Princeton University has asked, "When will people stop making note of the fact that the newly appointed presi- dent of university X is a woman? When will we feel as though we have hit a critical mass so that this is just not noticeable anymore?"(quoted in Zernike, 2001). This section describes the strategies that may be effective in advancing women to executive positions. BOX 6-2 Strategies for Recruiting and Advancing Women to Executive Positions Conduct an institutional audit. Mentor "presidents-in-training." Develop executive leadership training. Engage in networking activities. Change the search process.
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104 TO RERCUIT AND ADVANCE WOMEN STUDENTS AND FACULTY Conducting an Institutional Audit Brown et al. (2002) suggest a useful early step for education institu- tions wishing to recruit women for top administrative positions: conduct a leadership development audit of the institution. Such an audit is de- signed to answer the following questions: · What leadership positions do women currently hold in the faculty administration and board? · What proportion of the institution's leaders are women? · What role do women leaders play in formal and informal decision- making processes? · Are the women leaders viewed as leaders of men and women, or only as leaders of women? How can women leaders be supported to lead diverse constituencies? · Are leadership and development opportunities available for ev- eryone at all levels of the institution? · Does faculty development include development of leadership skills, not just skills related to a discipline? (Brown et al., 2002:15)1 These kinds of questions could also be asked in a comparative way, across similar higher education institutions. These questions remind re- cruiters to focus on all the potential candidates for executive positions rather than the narrower set of individuals who have already succeeded in obtaining a leadership position.2 Mentoring "Presidents-in-Training" According to Brown et al. (2001b:9), "most men and women college presidents agree that mentoring has played an important role in their careers." Female chairs, deans, and provosts need encouragement and advice, and they should actively seek it out. Likewise, female executives should consider mentoring women who could be presidential material. Basinger (2001) mentions that the Women Presidents Network of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) has joined forces with the National Council of Chief Academic Officers to 1Brown et al. (2002) describe some programs that support women in leadership posi- tions. 2It might be interesting to conduct a study of candidates for top administrative jobs, comparing those who succeeded in landing such a position with those who did not (Santovec, 2004).
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ADVANCING WOMEN TO EXECUTIVE POSITIONS 105 "begin linking female provosts interested in college presidencies with female presidents who will be mentors." An example of a program that combines mentoring and leadership training is the ACE Fellows Program: "Selected men and women faculty and administrators aspiring to senior positions take a leave from their institutions (one year, one semester, or periodically) to intern with a presi- dent or vice president at another institution. Through observation and participation, Fellows learn about decision making; fostering relation- ships with state legislatures, business and industry, K-12, the broader community, and the governing board; relationships among administra- tive offices; and the nature of educational leadership, administrative or- ganization, and change strategies" (Brown et al., 2001a:35).3 Of course, not all administrators will go through such formal training programs. Many will gain experience through their other academic work experience. Thus, mentoring can happen formally or informally. Developing Executive Leadership Training The skill set needed to succeed as an executive within a higher educa- tion institution differs to some extent from the skill set needed to be a faculty member, or even a chair or dean. Potential candidates need exper- tise in areas such as administration, communication, conflict resolution, budget, legislation, and educational planning (Andruskiw and Howes, 1980). Executive leadership training can help women to gain that exper- tise. One type of training program invites women from many campuses to come together at one location. Another type of training program is run at one particular institution or institutional system for women within that area. One example of such a program is the AASCU's Millennium Lead- ership Initiative: "The Millennium Leadership Initiative (MLI) is a fo- cused leadership development program designed to strengthen the prepa- ration and eligibility of persons who are traditionally underrepresented in the roles of president or chancellor in our nation's colleges and univer- sities."4 Another example is the Summer Institute for Women in Higher Education Administration at Bryn Mawr College: "The Summer Institute offers women administrators and faculty intensive training in education administration. The curriculum prepares participants to work with issues currently facing higher education, with emphasis on the growing diver- 3Brown et al. (2001b) lists several examples of different programs that support women in leadership positions. 4For more on the Millennium Leadership Initiative, see http://www.aascu.org/mli/ default.htm. Accessed March 29, 2005.
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106 TO RERCUIT AND ADVANCE WOMEN STUDENTS AND FACULTY sity of the student body and the work force."5 Training in negotiation is also helpful for female faculty and administrators, because there is some evidence that women are less assertive than men in negotiating.6 Such structured workshops and training are not the only approaches available to female faculty willing to move into administration; they can merely seek to talk to and observe the actions of administration leaders (Raines and Alberg, 2003). Other experiences could be gained through administrative internships or temporary administrative positions and serving on policy making or administrative committees. Engaging in Networking Female presidents may be more comfortable discussing issues with female peers: "In ways unlike those of male presidents before them, fe- male presidents have sought one another out at national meetings of presidents say college leaders and education scholars. In recent years, some of them have formed more systematic strategies for staying in touch on a regular basis" (Basinger, 2001). Examples of the networking efforts of women administrators include the Women Presidents Network of the AASCU (see Basinger, 2001) and the network of the American Council on Education, Office of Women in Higher Education, and its state affiliates: With a grant from the Carnegie Corporation in 1977, ACE's Office of Women in Higher Education (OWHE) started the ACE National Identi- fication Program, which is now the ACE Network. Through the Nation- al Identification Program, OWHE aimed to address the needs of women and the issues relating to women's leadership in higher education. OWHE identified these needs and issues during its early years, through meetings with women faculty and administrators throughout the Unit- ed States. . . . The ACE Network is a national system of networks within each state, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. Each state network is led by a state coordinator who works with institutional representatives and at least one presidential sponsor to develop programs that identify, develop, advance, and support women in higher education careers with- in that state. In addition, members of the Executive Board of the ACE Network serve as advisers to OWHE, liaisons to the state networks, and mentors to state coordinators.7 5For more on the Summer Institute for Women in Higher Education Administration, see http://www.brynmawr.edu/summerinstitute/. Accessed March 29, 2005. 6See, for example, Babcock and Laschever (2003). 7Office of Women in Higher Education, The ACE Network, at http://www.acenet.edu/ programs/owhe/network.cfm. Accessed March 29, 2005.
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ADVANCING WOMEN TO EXECUTIVE POSITIONS 107 Changing the Search Process The first step in changing the search process for women administra- tors is to appoint a diverse search committee: "The committee should reflect the diversity that the search claims to be seeking. If you want to attract a diverse candidate pool, it makes sense to start with a diverse committee. That will not guarantee a mixed slate of candidates, but it will increase the odds" (Dowdall, 2004). The second important step is to make sure that executive search firms, outside consultants, university trustees and boards, and the search committee all understand the importance of diversity. The third step is to attempt to cast a wider net. It is true that search committees are more likely to focus on men. Indeed, according to the assistant director of the Center for Policy Analysis at the American Council on Education, "Search committees at doctoral institutions are looking for folks with significant experience in leading complex institu- tions, and historically, that's been men and white men" (quoted in Basinger, 2002). However, there are many qualified female candidates for academic executive positions, and efforts to identify such candidates should be made from both the bottom-up and the top-down. CONCLUSION Women continue to achieve positions of leadership in the major re- search universities. Although their numbers remain lower than at other types of higher education institutions, the potential female pool for such positions is increasing. Women may face greater resistance either in be- ing considered for leadership roles or in occupying those positions. Evaluators may be biased against women to varying degrees and for a variety of reasons, including the view that women lack the necessary skills. Universities and other organizations have taken steps to help rem- edy these problems.
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108 TO RERCUIT AND ADVANCE WOMEN STUDENTS AND FACULTY BOX 6-3 Summary of Strategies for Recruiting and Advancing Women to Executive Positions What faculty can do: · Aspire to leadership positions. · Take advantage of opportunities, both on and off campus, to gain leader- ship experience. · Network with other female faculty interested in leadership positions and with male and female academic officers. What department chairs can do: · Encourage female faculty to gain experience and skills in administration and to consider seeking administrative positions. · Mentor female faculty on matters of administration. · Create and use support networks (applicable to female department chairs). What deans and provosts can do: · Encourage female faculty to gain experience and skills in administration and to consider leadership positions. · Conduct an institutional audit. · Develop on-campus leadership programs for faculty. · Mentor prospective academic officers. · Create and use support networks (applicable to female deans and provosts). What presidents can do: · Publicly state the institution's commitment to diversity and inclusiveness whenever possible. · Mentor prospective candidates for executive positions. Mentoring can be done at the same institution or across institutions. · Conduct a self-assessment of the institution. · Encourage prospective candidates to enroll in leadership training programs. · Develop a leadership program on campus. · Diversify search committees for departmental chair or dean positions.
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