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Initiative on the Status of
Women in the UW System

Initiative on the Status of
Women at UW-Green Bay

Status of Women on the
UW-Green Bay Campus

Identified Needs and
Proposed Action Steps

Committee Recommendations

Appendix I

Appendix II

Appendix IIa

Appendix III

Appendix IIIa

Appendix IIIb

Appendix IV

Introduction to the Initiative on the Status of Women
in the UW System

On September 24, 1998, President Katharine Lyall created an ad hoc Committee on the Status of Women in the University of Wisconsin System and gave it the following charge:

As we prepare to enter the 21st century, I would like this Committee to review how far we have come and how we might focus our efforts for the next decade to ensure that the UW System uses the talent of women effectively and serves all students well. We are not alone in these goals - other universities, businesses, and nonprofit organizations have similar purposes; the Committee should look to identify "best practices" around the country that could be considered for adoption in Wisconsin. I would urge the Committee to focus its final recommendations on three to five areas which it considers the most important and the most susceptible to significant progress in the next decade.

The development of Plan 2008: Education Quality through Racial/Ethnic Diversity, a Systemwide project for increasing the diversity of students, faculty, and staff, provided some of the immediate impetus for the establishment of the Initiative on the Status of Women. When the final version of Plan 2008 was approved in 1998, many women across the UW System, including a group of Women's Studies administrators, expressed concern that it did not directly address issues related to gender. Yet, because they were very supportive of Plan 2008, they also did not want to dilute the plan's attention to crucial questions of ethnic and racial diversity by asking that it be expanded to include women. Instead, they proposed that President Katharine Lyall establish a new, parallel initiative focusing explicitly on the status of women to update the last Systemwide study, develop a new leadership institute, and make recommendations that would improve the status of women.

The last Systemwide assessment of this kind was conducted by the 1980 Regents' Task Force on the Status of Women. To learn what progress had been made since then, what new conditions or needs had developed, and what successful strategies might already exist within the UW System, the Committee employed several methodologies:

A. Collection of statistical data by the Office of Policy Analysis and Research (OPAR).

B. A Systemwide mail survey of undergraduate students, faculty, and staff, conducted by the Wisconsin Survey Research Laboratory.

C. Focus groups with women students, faculty, and staff at each of the UW System institutions, conducted by members of the Committee on the Status of Women in the UW System.

D. A polling of Chancellors of the UW System institutions, asking them to identify "best practices" used at their institutions to evaluate, achieve, and maintain equity for women students, faculty, and staff.

After examining these four sources of information, the Committee concluded that substantial progress had been made, but that very significant needs and concerns persist. Moreover, it appeared that many of the most important problems would not be effectively addressed by piecemeal solutions, but will only be solved when the UW System and each of its institutions have in place a comprehensive system for addressing women's concerns and pursuing the goal of equity for women in the University.

The Committee therefore made five broad recommendations, to be implemented at both each individual institution and at the System level:

1. Expand educational opportunities for women students, by, e.g., establishing activities and programs that attract and retain more women students to math, science, engineering, and technology fields; developing new initiatives to help women take advantage of changes in technology and increasing globalization; and ensuring access to higher education for women who are disadvantaged by economic or family circumstances.

2. Increase the hiring, promotion, and retention of women faculty, academic staff, and classified staff, by, e.g., expanding the recruiting and mentoring of women faculty; improving professional development activities and career ladders for academic staff and classified staff women; and developing leadership opportunities for women to move into administration.

3. Make the learning and working environment more welcoming to women, and especially women of color and women who identify as lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered, by, e.g., developing workshops and training sessions for members of the University community, beginning with administrators, managers, and supervisors; reviewing and improving the system of reporting and responding to complaints of discrimination, harassment, and sexual violence; and establishing a wider system of supports for women students and employees throughout the UW System.

4. Provide conditions that allow for balancing work and personal life, by, e.g., expanding and improving childcare services and access to them; developing a more flexible workplace through flex-time, job-sharing, and equitable implementation of family leave policies; and providing domestic partner benefits such as life insurance, health insurance, retirement survivor benefits, and sick leave.

5. Create an effective organizational structure for improving the status of women in the University of Wisconsin System by establishing a UW System office on the status of women; supporting the establishment of committees on the status of women at each UW institution; and mandating that each institution develop by January 2001 a plan that addresses the key areas for progress identified in this report.

The UW System report, "Equality for Women in the University of Wisconsin System: A Focus for Action in the Year 2000" can be found at


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