April 30, 2018

 

TO: President Tony Frank

FROM: Ellen Fisher on behalf of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women faculty

SUBJECT: Recommendation for a Recognition and Awards for Gender Equity Committee

Background

While there are numerous opportunities for individuals to receive University awards and recognitions each year, and information about many of these opportunities is available on the Office of the Provost’s website, the process of nominating oneself or others for such recognitions is not inherently equitable or inclusive.  In fact, given the well-documented influence that unconscious or implicit bias has on how we perceive, judge, describe, and support others (or not) in things like evaluations,  hiring processes, and adjudicating punitive measures, it is similarly likely that our nomination processes inadvertently privilege those who embody dominant social identities, values, and locations within our institution.

At the very least, when it comes self-nomination, it is well-researched that women are far less likely than men to apply for opportunities for which they qualified, and that women are more harshly judged when they advocating for themselves to get credit for their contributions (even more so if they are women of color).

One of the best ways to counter the influence of unconscious bias is to make it conscious and actively work to make our processes and practices more explicitly inclusive, intersectional, and considerate of individual and systemic factors that inform our collective and institutionalized valuation or people, positions, and their contributions to our community.  To affect change in formal nomination processes, this would require thoughtfulness, deliberation, and intentional awareness of the potential for bias at each step along the way.

When the goal is to increase the pool of diverse and qualified applicants for an open position, the recommended approach is to look harder and cast a wider net rather than to dismissively assume there were “no qualified candidates” or that one must lower standards of evaluation.

Although it is difficult to track and mitigate the influence of implicit bias on who is most likely to be nominated for awards and recognitions, an array of similar responses could emerge with respect to our campus-wide nomination processes, from identifying potential candidates to measuring the value of their efforts and articulating the significance of their merit.

Furthermore, depending on the prestige of the award and requirements of a nomination packet, the nomination process for University awards can themselves be onerous, demanding, and often rushed, especially given that the time and effort required to complete and submit an excellent nomination would typically be considered “superfluous” to one’s job responsibilities – itself an act of service.  Under these conditions, there are many opportunities for implicit bias to inadvertently inform who is nominated, whom is doing the nomination, and the quality and content of supporting materials as part of a formal nomination.

Recommendation

The Committee recommends that the President charge a committee to develop, oversee, and implement inclusive and intersectional nomination processes for University awards and recognitions that would support greater gender equity via formal acknowledgement of valuable contributions to campus made by those from historically underrepresented groups, including women, transgender, non-binary, and allied individuals across campus.

Proposed Committee Charge:

  • Track important deadlines for campus awards and recognitions;
  • Identify current opportunities (or develop new ones) to recognize and award staff, faculty, and postdocs who demonstrate inclusive excellence and/or exemplify the Principles of Community in their University-related activities and service;
  • Develop channels for communicating with relevant groups and individuals within colleges and departments about nomination opportunities (including respective awards committees and/or diversity committees for discipline-specific and national awards), to encourage timely and thorough completion of nominations;
  • Support the professional and career development of historically underrepresented individuals with a lens for intersectionality and inclusivity by encouraging the nominations of those whose contributions to campus are more likely to overlooked or undervalued – including those who may be less likely to be formally acknowledged or recognized due to their tenure of employment, employment category, physical location within the CSU system and/or degree of relative visibility to the campus community;
  • Provide support and resources for the CSU community – especially those in supervisory roles – that educate on inclusive nomination processes and the detrimental impacts that implicit bias can have on an individual’s career.
Promotes the Mission and Goal of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women Faculty

This recommendation for the establishment of a Recognition and Awards for Gender Equity Committee promotes the University mission and goal to make Colorado State University the best place for women to work and learn by intentionally increasing the opportunities for women, transgender, non-binary, and allied individuals who support gender equity across campus to be formally recognized for their contributions and service to the University.