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Gender equity report released to public

A report on gender equity and the treatment of women on Concordia’s campus has been released for the public eye, revealing that there are differences in compensation amongst faculty and staff based on gender.

A task force was created two years ago to survey and perform research on gender equity. In 2012, the Community Relations Committee and President Craft appointed an ad hoc committee to research such issues and to provide recommendations that the college can utilize to fix the issues. An ad hoc committee is a committee created to fulfill a particular purpose. The Community Relations Committee is an institutionalized committee charged with recognizing gender cultural issues that occur on campus.

The research included gathering a variety of bits of data on campus from benefitted employees that include salaries and benefits for women, women seeking for promotions and the opportunities women were given to pursue a leadership role.

On October 3rd, there will be open meetings from 2 to 2:45 pm and 3 to 3:45 pm, where the members of the administrative team and the president will be there to talk over the college’s response to what was found in the report.

Dr. Lisa Sethre-Hofstad was appointed as chair of the committee and was part of the research process from the very beginning.

“Concordia is a part of a broader culture that is working on focusing on [gender equity] issues,” Sethre-Hofstad said.

Although some employees stated they were happy with their experience here, there was a consistent pattern in the data that showed male and female faculty and staff were less positive about their experience here.

“Women faculty reported differences in how they believe they are being perceived. Part of our job is to lift that up and create awareness around that issue and then think about what might be a systematic response,” Sethre-Hofstad said.

According the the gender equity report, the committee has found that Concordia’s faculty has found differences in their average salaries based on gender. The committee also found that administrator salaries are recognizably lower for females than males, and women are more likely to be found working part-time positions.

Average salary differences were found among female and male faculty during a period of four academic years. These differences existed despite the years of experience, academic rank or the degree that an employee possessed. Although the report does not directly state the reasons for the differences in salary, Hofstad believes that they are unintentional.

“I think some of the salary differences emerge for when people start their job, how people negotiate starting salaries,” Sethre-Hofstad said. “There is no intentional, systematical purpose for these differences, but over time they have emerged.”

In response to this issue, the report states that in this academic year, President Craft, the college cabinet and the director of human resources will be reviewing the differences in salaries to determine what is causing the inequity, and they will ensure that when hiring, faculty’s salaries will be based off of their experience and degree.

To help avoid further gender based salaries, the gender equity report also states that one of the ways that the community relations committee hopes to solve this is to provide training for director chairs on proper and non-discriminatory hiring procedures.

When Dr. Susan Larson was a department chair, she does not remember having any such training and sometimes she reflects on “did I do something unintentionally that might have impacted the experience of men and women differently [at work].”

Larson is happy that training for department chairs will be provided, because she believes the training could possibly make people more aware of gender equity and will cause them to think carefully on how they do their hiring practice.

Larson became involved in the research within the last year it was being conducted. A director of institutional research was offered another job, and Larson was asked to join the committee to help finish the research.

Another finding addressed in the report is where women stand in positions relating to full time work. Administrators and staff are split into separate tiers or levels that define their position in rank. Tier one is the president’s cabinet, where tier three holds the directors, managers or coordinators. More often than not, women were found in tiers two and three with part-time jobs more than men and within these tiers women’s salaries were lower than men’s.

As stated in the report, human resources will be evaluating the gender inequalities found in tier two and tier three. However, it has not been specified how the evaluation will take place. The report mentions that the study of the gender inequalities mentioned would take place after Human Resources finishes their compensations study for administrative and support staff.

Larson was not overly surprised by these results. Having had some experience in teaching a class on women and science, which broadly thinks about women in work and academic settings, it was no surprise that gender issues were present on campus.

“We found gender differences [in the report] that are congruent with other institutions that I have read about described in reports about women in other academic settings,” Larson said. “We maybe would have hoped not to find them but we are pleased to see that a response is being made to try and deal with some of them.”

As the year progresses, there will be more evaluations on the work climate at the college. Larson, Sethre-Hofstad and Dr. Joan Kopperud, another appointed member of the committee, hope to see that the studies continue to ask the question of why there are differences in experiences for men and women. They also hope that professors will focus on what they are teaching their students regarding the type of work climate they want to be in.

Kopperud wants the students to keep asking why women and men have different experiences in the workplace “when they are employees at other jobs as well as when they are in positions that have leadership and power.”

During two years of research and gathering data, Sethre-Hofstad, Larson and Kopperud all felt that developing the survey and analyzing the data was difficult in some aspects. As a committee they reviewed policies and procedures at Concordia, and administered a climate survey to benefitted employees on campus. Through this survey they collected data and came up with recommendations for the the Community of Relations committee in how the college should respond. According to Hofstad and Kopperud, another challenge was gathering all of the information and formatting it so that it was clear and focused for the college.

Kopperud stated that it was a matter of making sure the report needs to be “meaningful to the audience that will receive it,” and to be sure it able to be acted upon.

According to Larson, any workplace or institution can have a good work climate, but if people do not pay attention to how the work climate changes, it can change in a way that allows for gender inequality to appear. The community relations committee saw that Concordia was beginning to show signs of gender inequality amongst its staff and now they are taking action.

“The college is responding in ways that will help us move forward on the things we studied and addressed,” Sethre-Hofstad said.

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