May 7, 2018

 

TO: President Tony Frank

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

SUBJECT: Recommendation for Long-Term Support for CSU Writes

Background

Rooted in the understanding that individual women are stronger when we work together, CSU Writes supports women faculty writers by organizing and facilitating shared scholarly writing experiences.

Research shows that women academics are more likely to put off writing, take on more service in departments, and publish fewer articles than their male counterparts.  It is important to note that women are publishing less (particularly in STEM fields), not because of an inherent difference in quality of work, but often due to the choices women make concerning their academic writing practice.  Research also shows that writing support, such as writing groups, reflect an equitable community that “embraces relationships that are cooperative and nonhierachical, and cultivates opportunities for each group member to be affirmed and empowered by others” (Fassinger, et al.).

CSU Writes offers women at CSU structured support to write for publication, proposal submission, degree completion, and personal growth.  CSU Writes’ wide-range of support offerings include: writing groups, editing groups workshops, retreats, show up & write. drop-in writing sessions, productivity packages, and additional specialty resources.

The range of offerings are divers because the needs of CSU’s scholarly writers are divers.  CSU Writes recognizes the needs of women writers in academe, and the program is inclusive and already provides scholarly writing support for all faculty, postdoctoral, and graduate student writers.  With this combined programming, CSU Writes is a key resource that elevates the research, publishing, and writing productivity of CSU’s scholarly community.

History of CSU Writes at CSU

CSU Writes started (AY2015-16)  with a one-time grant from the Ripple Effect, a President’s Office-sponsored initiative to make CSU the best place for women to work and learn.

From Fall 2016 to date, CSU Writes has continued with one-time annual funds from the Graduate School, OVPR, and Office of the Provost.  The total combined one-time annual resources from these units is $75,000, which funds a part-time program director, three interns, and all program offerings.  Additional one-time funds have been offered by the Women & Gender Collaborative (AY17-18; $,066) to increase programming specifically for women faculty (including targeted support for junior faculty women) through monthly Mondays First writing sessions and two summer Women Faculty Writing Retreats.

With this combined support, CSU Writes has demonstrated significant growth, expansion, and impact over the past three academic years.  CSU Writes further expanded its offerings to include editing groups, panel presentations, new specialty workshop topics, and faculty productivity packages (a weekly email check-in).  Information on program growth through offerings and attendance, including participate feedback, is provided as excerpts in the attachments.

CSU Writes works to create safe and supportive spaces for CSU’s writers that address their scholarly writing needs as they negotiate their own particular professional obligations and pressures within CSU’s distinct institutional climate.  Climate-aware, individualized support means that it is better for CSU Writes to organize numerous offerings for a small number of participants than it is to host large events where the idiosyncrasies of an individual writer’s needs may go unseen, unspoken, unheard.  With the former in mind, the AY2017-18 Mondays First sessions, sponsored by the Women and Gender Collaborative, set aside a gender-aware writing-focused space where 6-10 women faculty per session discuss their work and problem-solve personal writing challenges.  To date, nearly 30 women-identified faculty have participated.  Evaluations and testimonials on programming for women faculty is included below in the attachments.

CSU Writes  deeply appreciates the generous support thus far from the Office of the President, the Graduate School, the Office of the Provost, the Office of the Vice President for Research, and the Women & Gender Collaborative to initiate and to continue building CSU Writes over the past three years.

While the participation metrics and program quality assessments (see attached appendix) testify to the success and value of CSU Writes, it must be recognized that the program developed thus far has been operating in unsustainable ways due to the fact that 10 funding has been limited to one-time annual support that inhibits robust, long-term program developmental planning; 2) CSU Writes is institutionally located within the Graduate School but does not have a proper physical location on campus – for example, Dr. Kristina Quynn currently operates out of her office in the Department of English, but this is a non-ideal arrangement since it tends to confuse campus perceptions of the distinctions among CSU Writes  and the Writing Center within the Department of English, rather than reflect the purpose of CSU Writes to broadly support scholarly research across diverse campus offices, including the Graduate School and the Office of the Vice President for Research.  Finally, 3) the program director (Dr. Kristina Quynn) has a split position in the Graduate School (.5 FTE) and as non-tenure track faculty in English Department (.5 FTE).  The split nature of Dr. Quynn’s position as program director and non-tenure track faculty creates significant complications related to processes for establishing salary and processing compensation.  Finding a more efficient and effective way to structure this position would likely require input from Human Resources.

Recommendation

On behalf of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women Faculty, it is recommended that the administration provide long-term support and operational resources (i.e., base salary, designated physical space, etc.), to sustain and further enrich the positive impact of CSU Writes on our scholarly campus community.

Promotes the Mission and Goal of the Committee

Writing is central to the work and learning women faculty do here at CSU, at all stages of their careers.  Women academic writers often face particularly gendered challenges, however, when they write to build their CV, seek research funds, advance through tenure, and strive to maintain a work-life balance while they contribute to CSU’s national and international R1 reputation.  In serving the needs of women writers, CSU Writes also helps build a campus-based writing community of scholars, write large, in ways that increase writing productivity and promotes an inclusive collegial academic climate on campus.

Attachments:

CSU Writes Report on Participation Numbers & Program Quality

Report Excerpt: Program Expansion and Impact

Program growth is shown in increased number of offerings, for instance:
2015-16:  3 intensive writing retreats and 7 workshops
2016-17:  10 intensive writing retreats and 18 workshops
2017-18:  12 intensive writing retreats and 17 workshops

Program growth is also reflected in increased number of attendances:
2015-16:  514 (actual)
2016-17:  1476 (actual)
2017-18:  2082 (estimated)

Participant feedback from 2016-present reflects that attendees are highly satisfied with the quality of work they accomplish at the retreats and the writing strategies and information they learn in the workshops (most measure 4.6-4.9 out of 5):

Retreats:  “Made good progress on project”  4.8
Workshops:  “Learned something of value/useful”  4.7

While it is difficult to accurately measure the impact of CSU Writes  on participants’ submission rates, the 2017 Summer Survey shows that of the 52 respondents: 57% reported submitting 2 or more manuscripts/proposals for publication, funding, or degree completion; and 24% reporting submitting 1 manuscript/proposal.

Report Excerpt: Designed Women-Faculty Programming Evaluation & Testimonials

Women consistently make up at least half, but often more than half, of the attendance at faculty workshops and retreats.  At such women-faculty designated events, including the 2017 summer Week-Long Women Faculty Writing Retreat (26 RSVP, 16 participants), participants rated the professional development quality the retreat (on a measure of 5):

“Retreat Met or Exceeded Expectations”   4.75
“Would Recommend This Retreat to Others”   5.0
“Believe CSU Writes Offers Valuable Support for My Writing”   4.9

Many retreat participants also shared candidly about why they attended the retreat and about the ways a women-centered scholarly atmosphere facilitated their writing:

“I was stalled on book revisions and needed and time to get back into projects.  I attended a weekend retreat previously and I knew how effective they are.”

“Everything was really great, loved the supportive atmosphere, appreciated the chance to meet other women faculty, thank you – it was so well organized.  I think this is a great week to hold retreat in summer – enough time to regroup after semester and enough time left in summer to continue working.”

“Openness and flexibility of sessions, yet provided structure and focused writing.  Being surrounded by other women, feeling safe and supported.”

“I cannot find time to write when I am in my office.  I am too often distracted by questions, chatting, people, lab affairs, meetings, etc.  This retreat was a gift to myself to give me time and space to write with a group of like-minded people.”

“I wanted dedicated time to write (and un-interrupted time).  My goal was to put together a solid manuscript and I definitely accomplished that!”

“I wanted to meet other female faculty across the university and learn about other ongoing research at CSU.  I was also looking to break up my normal summer writing routine with a differently structured day.”