Brief History

October 1992: Provost Ellie Gilfoyle and Judith Sugar, Chair of the Faculty Women’s Caucus, organized a retreat of women to discuss concerns for women at Colorado State University.  A list of issues and concerns were generated and the group concluded that an advisory body should be formed to take leadership in addressing these concerns.

February 1993: A proposal for a Task Force was sent to President Yates.

December 1993: Representatives of the Faculty Women’s Caucus and various administrators met with Dr. Yates to discuss the proposed Task Force.  Following this discussion another proposal was submitted to reflect the Presidents charge to the Task Force.

April 1993: President Yates approved the proposal and established the Task Force on the Status of Women.  The President’s letter to the campus community states: “The primary goal of this effort (the Task Force) will be to identify top priority issues for women faculty, staff and students at Colorado State University, and to make recommendations to me to address these issues.”

August 1994: The first meeting of the Task Force took place.

Progress Report

Mission Statement: The charge of the Task Force is “to identify and assess, through a literature search and other relevant sources, issues facing today’s Colorado State University Women (faculty, staff and students).  The identified issues will be presented to all campus women via a needs assessment tool to determine the top priority issues for women at Colorado State.  The Task Force will be assigned to explore those top priority issues for women at Colorado State.  The Task Force will be assigned to explore those top priority issues which were identified through the needs assessment process.  A written report will be prepared by the Task Force for the University President and will describe the impact of issues for women on campus and outline short and long term recommendations to address the climate for women at Colorado State.”

Publicity: A variety of avenues were used to notify the campus of the Task Force and its mission, including press releases, general electronic mail messages, and meetings with numerous campus groups and organizations.

Methods: To achieve the goals described in the mission statement, the Task Force selected three primary methods of data collection: 1) review of general literature related to women in academia, and specific documents from previous efforts to address women’s concerns on campus; 2) focus groups and discussion groups; and 3) a survey or women on campus.  Joanna Starek, graduate student in psychology, was hired as the graduate assistant to the Task Force.  She completed the review of the literature which describes significant issues in the following areas:

Women in the workplace:

  1. Sex segregation and stratification: women appear most often in the less skilled areas, and in jobs stereotypical deemed appropriate for women.
  2. Pay Equity: women earn less than men even when performing equal work.
  3. Gender socialization: women’s work and development is devalued.
  4. Attributions of success: women’s success is attributed to luck or hard work.  Men’s is attributed to ability.
  5. Women in traditionally male fields: women experience lack of support, mentorship, and advancement.
  6. Role conflict: women experience internal and external messages of what is an appropriate role for women, there is a lack of support for multiple roles and related needs.

Women on college campuses:

  1. Climate issues: despite gains, women do not experience full equity in their educational experience.  This is confirmed by the extensive research and climate studies.  Central to this “chilly climate” is the general sense of devaluing that women report.
  2. Career development: for women in academics the higher the rank the fewer the women.
  3. Retention and promotion of women: attrition starts early at the undergraduate and masters level, as women continue to pursue academic experiences they become more isolated which often results in missed opportunities.
  4. Tokenism: this status is conferred upon individuals and minority groups, creating unreasonable expectations and excessive pressure (see women of color).
  5. Women of color: token status is doubled.  Women of color face increased devaluing and isolation as a woman and as a person of color.  There are also intra and inter group issues.
  6. Overburdening and inadequate mentoring: women face higher service demands, higher advising loads, and a lack of mentors.
  7. Isolation: in many areas there are so few women that they are frequently the only woman in the workplace.
  8. Balancing family and work: this is difficult at best and receives little support.  Many women feel punished or at best over looked if they try to juggle academia and family.

Student Issues:

The common theme for women remains that of climate across the board.  Students more often express concerns of sexual harassment and physical safety.  Lack of women mentors, advising that does not encourage pursuits traditionally sought by men, lack of valuing different needs and learning styles, and hostile climate in the classroom are concerns that appear again and again.

Administrative Professional and State Classified Staff:

The research on these groups is extremely limited.  The major issues appear to be of class and status.  The great majority of women working in higher education are concentrated in the lower paying areas and in positions considered lower in status.

Focus Groups and Discussion Groups

The focus and discussion groups gave the Task Force data that is of a qualitative nature.  No hypotheses were tested; people just spoke what they thought.

The preliminary findings are closely reflecting the information gathered in the literature review.  Each of the issues mentioned above appears repeatedly in various focus groups and most are reflected in the priority lists made by the participants.

It is very clear that women and men are perceiving the climate and the campus very differently.

Survey: This data collection method is in progress.  The survey is intended to complete the needs assessment and prioritization goal of the Task Force.  This is proving to be the most difficult task.

Final Report: The final report is anticipated at the end of the Fall 1995 semester or early Spring 1996 semester.