The Task Force on the Status of Women was appointed by President Albert C. Yates in the Fall of 1994.  The mission of the Task Force was to define the issues and determine the priorities for women at Colorado State University and make recommendations to the President for addressing these priorities.

There is no doubt that women have made progress over the 125 year history of Colorado State University.  As has occurred at most colleges and universities around the country, women have increased in numbers and taken up roles in areas once reserved solely for men.  It is because the University has made these gains that it must now look at itself and evaluate its progress.  It is time to take action and make commitments that establish a community where women are equal partners with men in every respect.  As we approach the 21st Century, Colorado State University must enhance its commitment to addressing the needs and priorities of the women who are currently here and those who are yet to arrive.

What the Task Force has discovered is that concerns of women in 1996 are not dramatically anew.  Their needs and priorities have the same focus as those found in the literature and those identified over the last twenty-five years by groups of women at Colorado State.  Although some of those issues have taken a different form, they are the same topics that resulted in the creation of this Task Force.  Our research has quantified them more clearly and this report offers recommendations for change to address these needs and priorities.

Many women do not perceive or experience CSU as a welcoming place where they can flourish and thrive as equal partners with men.  Of course there are oases on our campus where women are respected and included.  But women who are looking out from safe havens notice that much of the tradition of Colorado State makes full and equal inclusion of women an immense philosophical shift for some in the University community.  If Colorado State is to be a place of equality for men and women, we must work together to change this environment.  It is important to note that women of color experience double jeopardy; they face particular challenges in almost every area of the academy; they are affected by prejudicial attitudes on the basis of both race and gender.  Every one of the Task Force recommendations must integrate the needs of women of color.  We must begin to recognize differences and turn them into strengths.

To identify the issues, the Task Force engaged in a three stage process.  First, a literature review of issues for women in higher education was conducted, looking largely at studies done by other universities.  Second, throughout spring 1995, the Task Force conducted forty-two focus group discussions attended by more than 250 women and men from all branches of the campus community.  The results of these focus groups were used in developing a survey that was distributed last fall to over five thousand women on campus, with an average response rate for all groups of 43%.  We believe that the use of multiple research methodologies added strength to the overall quality of the project.

An Overview of Women’s Issues and Concerns

The following overview is based on issues raised in focus groups and on issues supported by survey data.  Priorities are summarized in the tables of focus group data (pages 10-11 of report), survey date (page 12 of report), and the percentages and means of dissatisfaction (pages 13-14 of report).  These tables show common concerns, as well as those that are specific to certain groups of women.

The issues and concerns for women on the Colorado State campus are broad in scope.  The concerns of the campus community about gender equity cluster into several main categories ranging from perceptions about the campus work and classroom climate, to diversity issues, and to issues of physical and emotional safety.  The following is a brief summary and description of some of the major concerns voiced by women and men.

Campus Climate

The largest cluster of concerns for women at Colorado State centered around the campus climate.  Women are aware that their natural style of work, communication and creativity are not always in line with the overarching culture which is in place at Colorado State.  Negative stereotypes and attitudes present on campus often remind women of this fact.  Women feel as if they must transform their natural style and conform to the dominant norm in order to be recognized and respected for their work.  This creates a level of discomfort for women which varies depending upon their position at the University, their department, college, level of social support, and any individual differences in style.

Students also raise issues about the classroom environment.  Specifically, they comment on the failure of some instructors to use gender inclusive language.  They note that women’s and other diverse perspectives are often ignored in courses.  They feel that male and female students are sometimes evaluated differently, and question the adequacy of advising for women students.  They note the limited number of women role models, and question whether the men and women in athletic programs are being treated equitably.  Women of color encounter prejudice both as women and as people of under represented races.

Work Environment

A second area of concern for women on campus has to do with employment.  These concerns vary depending upon the type of position a woman has at the University (regular faculty, temporary faculty, administrative professional, state classified, graduate student, or undergraduate student), but in general all women are concerned about gender equity in the work environment.  Women are concerned about equity of pay, and equal opportunities for professional advancement and development.  Specifically, women are aware that there are often different standards placed on the work of women and men.  They feel that many policies on campus espouse gender equity, but are no effectively achieving gender equity.  There is a perception that sufficient efforts are not being made to hire and retain qualified women.  There are few women in leadership positions and women keenly feel the dearth of women mentors and women role modes in the campus community.  In addition, the effectiveness of some role models is undermined by their colleagues.

Balancing Family, Work, and School

An extremely important area of concern for women at Colorado State involved the logistic difficulties of balancing work, school, and family.  There is a sense that the University does not support parenting or family commitment, particularly for single parents.  More specifically, the amount of support that people receive for balancing work and family commitments is contingent upon their department or supervisor and is not due to campus-wide policies.  Women feel that the University does not support dependent care, which is usually the role of women.  They feel that they must sacrifice family for their job, even though they often do not have support at home which would help them put their jobs first.  Concomitantly, perhaps one of the greatest concerns for women with children is the lack of adequate and affordable child care.  In particular, there are difficulties finding child care on short term or emergency notice.

Safety and Harassment

For students, safety on campus was a primary concern.  Students as well as other groups of women believed that campus lighting and security are not adequate.  Another large area of concern for all women on campus has to do with harassment and emotional safety.  Many women feel they cannot voice their concerns about the campus climate or issues of gender equity for fear of retaliation.  They feel they will be ostracized or labeled as “trouble makers,” and generally will not be supported by the campus environment.  Additionally, there are concerns about sexual harassment on campus.  Sexual harassment does exist at Colorado State, and there is a perception of powerlessness to change harassment situations because of a lack of support by the campus community.


Many women on campus, and particularly the women of color, non-traditional students, and lesbian and bisexual students note a limited appreciation of diversity on campus.  They feel there is an insensitivity to cultural differences.  They comment that their individuality is not appreciated and feel that issues of diversity are misrepresented and misunderstood.  Specifically, they feel that many people are uninformed about actual issues, that they are seen as being “different,” and are not valued for their diverse perspectives, but are expected to conform.

Communication challenges for men and women

A final area of concern voiced in the focus groups was raised primarily by the men.  Men are concerned about what they perceive to be the fundamental differences between men and women in communication and work style.  Some men seem genuinely confused by gender issues and desire a forum to work through these perceived differences.

In general, the women at Colorado State seem to value their experience in higher education, but are aware that CSU has room for improvement with regard to gender equity.  There is a large body of support for movement toward a more equitable environment.  This enthusiasm is tempered by fears that nothing will change.  As action alters conditions for women, these fears will subside.

Task Force Recommendations

The Task Force makes the following overarching recommendations as the means for the University to actively address issues raised by our work.  Specific recommendations are included in this section with detailed examples and explanations in the Supporting Information.

Gender Equity 2000: A University-Wide Approach

Gender Equity 2000 is our vision that Colorado State University will have made substantial progress toward reaching gender equity by the year 2000.  Although changes proposed in this report will continue well into the 21st Century, our vision is that significant achievements will occur within a short period of time.  Our dream is that the University community will embrace the need for women to be treated fairly and with respect, that the numbers of women will increase, and that we will have made progress in the psychological transformation that will help women ad men work together effectively.  We believe the following actions are necessary to reach gender equity:

1. Distribute The Findings Of The Task Force

2. Establish A Commission On Women And Gender Equity

The Commission should be appointed early in fall semester 1996.  Members of the commission and people requested to serve on subcommittees will address issues of specific groups (e.g. students, administrative professionals, men) or selected topics (e.g. campus environment).  The Commission would report to the President and would have adequate support.  The Commission will have the charge to:

  • Assist the University in designing, implementing, and evaluating strategies for achieving Gender Equity 2000.  Strategies should address issues and recommendations raised in this report.
  • Provide information about resources such as seminars, training sessions, and discussions that will help develop viable plans for gender equity in departments and units.
  • Make information available about resources related to advocacy, grievance procedures, and legal resource.
  • Produce progress reports on the status of women.
  • Coordinate with the Commission on Ethnic Diversity Issues, the Fort Collins Commission on Women, the University Diversity Advisory Committee, the Institute for Women and Leadership and other groups focused on diversity issues.
  • Communicate with Administrative Professional Council, Faculty Council, and Classified Personnel Council.
  • Interface with the University strategic planning effort.
  • Fulfill other responsibilities identified during the work of the Commission.

The women and men of this Commission must, first and foremost, be informed about the historical and contemporary lives of women.  Commission members also need multicultural perspectives, familiarity with research associated with the limitations and barriers to women’s full participation in post secondary education.

3. Sponsor A Kick-Off Event For Gender Equity 2000

In fall semester 1996, members of the Commission should help plan a campus-wide event to initiate Gender Equity 2000.  This event should feature a keynote speaker and discussions to heighten awareness of Colorado State’s commitment to provide a supportive environment for women.  Task Force members will help prepare for the event by presenting the outcomes of their work and recommendations for the future.

4. Address Specific Recommendations for Gender Equity

We recognize that Colorado State cannot solve every problem cited by every individual, and that issues identified as concerns for women may also be shared by some men.  However, we believe that women and their male colleagues can change the current unsupportive environment and address problems more effectively when they arise.

Specific recommendations address only the major concerns and highest priorities identified by the Task Force.  More detailed suggestions are included in the Supporting Information and Appendices.  The following list is intended for use by the Commission and by units within the University.

Improve Communications and Understanding Between Men and Women

Use campus resources and consultants to provide discussions that address communications and understanding.

Increase the Numbers of Women

A recurring theme that impacts academic programs and affects the work environment throughout the University is the under representation of women, particularly women of color, in some units and at some levels.  Women of all groups express concern about having few women role models, advisers for students, or supervisors and administrators for faculty and staff.  A consequence of the small numbers of women in some disciplines is that these women serve on numerous committees to represent women in decision making and advise large numbers of students.  These conditions thwart advancement, and lead to burnout and attrition, particularly for women of color.

  • Evaluate departments that have not made progress in hiring and retaining women faculty proportional to their historical availability and have this addressed in future strategic plans.
  • Develop a Woman Scholars Program to bring role models to campus.
  • Provide career development and advancement opportunities for administrative professionals and state classified women.
  • Review the temporary employee classification to determine the impact for women on salaries, benefits, and the ability to acquire full-time positions.

Improve retention of women

  • Evaluate why women leave Colorado State top administrative positions and develop strategies to retain them.
  • Evaluate why women leave Colorado State faculty positions and develop strategies to retain them.
Improve the Work Environment
  • Improve training of supervisors about harassment, expectations of equal treatment, opportunities for women, employee evaluations, fair working conditions, communication in the workplace, and sexual harassment policies and procedures.
  • Include equal treatment of women as an important component of annual evaluations of all CSU personnel.

Recognize and respect women’s competence

  • Recognize the expertise of women at all levels of the institution by providing opportunities for them to contribute to their respective units.
  • Place women on committees because of their expertise to insure they are treated with respect, not as tokens or with the expectation that they speak for all women.

Set salaries and give salary increases equally to women and men

  • Correct salary inequities.
  • Make salary reports available.
  • Provide mentoring and professional development.

Increase opportunities for women to advance and to develop additional professional expertise

  • Professional development opportunities should be increased for women at all levels, particularly administrative professionals and state classified personnel.
Improve the Campus Climate

Improve sensitivity to the difficulty balancing family, work, and school commitments

  • Leaders of the University, Human Resources, and faculty and staff members should explore better ways to respond to and resolve conflicts associated with balancing work, school, and family.

Make child care available on campus

The need for child care was a recurring theme of both focus groups and the survey.  Absenteeism necessitated by the needs of children has a ripple effect throughout the institution.  We realize that child care has been the subject of many administrative reviews for more than ten years.  Although this issue is complicated, it is time to move forward.  We suggest that the administration consult with peer institutions that offer child care to find out how they have overcome problems.

  • Find creative solutions to provide reasonably priced child care, particularly care that is available on short notice.

Address negative stereotyping

  • Teach people how to counter stereotyping in a constructive way.
Improve the Academic Environment

Address the Classroom Climate for women

Women experience environments in some classes that range from indifferent to hostile.  The unsupportive environment may include sexual harassment by persons in positions of authority, harassment by peers, gender-biased language, racism, not being allowed to contribute to class discussions, being discounted for opinions, and being ostracized for calling attention to a problem.

  • Make all people who teach aware of behaviors that make the classroom hostile to women and particularly women of color.
  • Increase the inclusion of women’s scholarship in the curriculum.

Recognize women as serious scholars

  • Recognize and respect nontraditional teaching styles and research.  Acknowledge that alternative research methodologies provide unique contributions to scholarship.
  • Expand opportunities for women faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students to present their scholarly work.
  • Evaluate the equity of admission standards and resources for graduate students.
Address Issues Related to Safety and Harassment

Improve general physical security in and around buildings and residence halls

We recognize that a great deal has been done to improve campus safety.  We support the continued efforts to make buildings more secure, improve lighting, and provide more access to telephones throughout campus.

  • Educate people about any actual dangers on campus and methods of protection.
  • Publicize an office (in addition to CSUPD) that people should contact to discuss concerns about safety or give suggestions.
  • Publicize what constitutes harassment through numerous and varied media and campus channels.
  • Publicize ways to deal with problems before they become severe enough to go to grievance.
  • Establish clearer processes and assure grievance procedures are consistent and fair.
  • Repeat training for all staff and students – once is not enough.
Address Administrative Accountability and Policies
  • Enforce equal opportunity regulations with the full support of the administration.
  • Provide consistent and reliable data about women to the State Board of Agriculture and other agencies.

Focus Group and Survey Priorities


We are indebted to the Provost’s office for supporting many of the activities of the Task Force, to the Office of Budgets and Institutional Analysis for the time and expertise of Brigitte Schmidt and others in developing, mailing, and analyzing the survey.  Special thanks to Sam Sappington of the University Counseling Center and Joanna Starek for their work on the focus group data analysis.  Thanks also goes to Elaine Roberts who compiled and revised draft after draft to achieve the final product.  In addition, we thank the departments of Task Force members for copying, mailing and Health Service for allowing us to use their conference rooms.  Most of all, thanks to the devoted members of the Task Force who gave up innumerable evenings and weekends to make this possible while continuing to perform their usual responsibilities.

Task Force Members

We thank former members of the Task Force for their contributions to the design and implementation of the methods for focus groups and surveys: Michelle Simmons graduated May, 1995; Christine McClintock graduated December, 1995; we regret that Marilyn Maskell-Pretz and Robert Hoffert were unable to work with us throughout the duration of the Task Force.

While we claim full responsibility for the design and implementation of the survey and focus group instruments, we particularly appreciate the assistance of Dr. James Banning.  Others who assisted were Liz Roth, Dr. Marceline Lazzari, Nancy Andrews, Dr. Dean Jaros, Dr. Silvia Canetto, Dr. Chuck Davidshofer, Dr. Kathy Richard, Dr. Dottie Morris, Dr. Cindy Swindell, Dr. Patricia Vigil, and Dr. Dan Socall.

Respectfully Submitted By:

Norma Cephas-Malianga, Programer, Information Systems

Laura Macagno-Shang, Co-Chair, Staff Counselor, University Health Services/University Counseling Center

Joanna Starek, Graduate Assistant to the Task Force, Psychology

Carol Blair, Head and Professor, Microbiology

Ruth Carrothers, Assistant Director, Women’s Program and Studies

Darla DeRuiter, Graduate Student, Natural Resources Recreation and Tourism

Justine Gutierrez Nittman, Accounting Technician, Research Services

Elaine Roberts, Professor, Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management

Sam Sappington, Staff Psychologist, University Counseling Center

Brigitte Schmidt, Statistical Analyst, Budgets and Institutional Analysis

Martha Smeltzer, Associate Director, Athletics

The Task Force

The Task Force on the Status of Women appointed by the President of Colorado State University, Dr. Albert C. Yates, held its first meeting in the fall of 1994.  The Task Force included ten women and two men representing undergraduates, graduate students, administrative professionals, state classified personnel, and faculty members of several ethnic groups.  The Task Force was co-chaired by Norma Cephas-Malianga and Laura Macagno-Shang.  Assistance was provided by Joanna Starek, a graduate student in psychology.

An initial icebreaker demonstrated that the personality traits, priorities, and styles of the group were almost as diverse as the number of individuals.  However, diversity proved to be the Task Force’s greatest asset.  From its members, the Task Force garnered a wealth of knowledge on resources for historical information, on tools and techniques for reaching consensus within groups, on survey design and distribution, on quantitative and qualitative assessment of data, and on the design and production of the final report.

The work of the Task Force is presented in this report, but its impact has already been far reaching.  The large number of women who have participated in its endeavors either through focus groups and or/the survey have validated the mission and eagerly await the recommendations.  Their support as well as that of the Administration will ensure continued progress.

Much of the tradition of Colorado State makes full and equal inclusion of women an immense philosophical shift for some members of the University community.  But there is also a rich history of women facing the struggle and gaining ground.  While there are some in our community who would have us believe that we should be satisfied, it is the unanimous belief of this Task Force and women who shared their concerns with us, that we can not and must not be satisfied.  Colorado State University must use past efforts as the springboard to ensure that all members of its community are treated with equal dignity, and that women and men are equal partners.

We want an environment where women are not afraid to stand up for themselves, where women can be partners in the University, where we all gain power by working together rather than perpetuating the adversarial environment we feel women face in many areas.  We want changes that let women support each other rather than facing difficult situations in isolation: changes that allow us to focus the combined strengths of women students, staff, faculty, and administrative professionals.

Recommendation Details

Focus group participants and survey respondents recommended specific ways to improve the campus environment or address priorities that were supported by our data.  To assist the Commission and individual units or departments in reaching gender equity, the following are expanded versions of some of the recommendations in the Executive Summary.  Full listings of recommendations for Focus Groups are included in Appendix D, and Survey recommendations are included in the Supporting Information section or in Appendix E.

Improve communication and understanding between men and women

  • Establish an ongoing forum to help men and women understand their similarities and differences and to change the culture that currently restricts their growth and development.  The forum for men and women would include discussions and seminars to help women and men understand the differences in their communications that lead to frequent misunderstandings.  A primary goal is for women and men to find more effective means of being mutually supportive.  All units and departments on campus should be urged to participate.

Increase the number of women

  • At the faculty level, hiring of women has improved substantially in some parts of the University.  The major emphasis for faculty should be hiring of women in senior positions, retention of women in tenure track lines, and increasing opportunities for temporary faculty.  Particular attention needs to be given to departments and units that have records of low retention or have fewer women than are available in their disciplines or areas of expertise.
  • A Woman Scholars Program would bring women to areas where women are underrepresented.  Such a program would serve as an incentive for departments and help provide women role models and leaders where no women or only entry level faculty women exist.  The women scholars should be full professors who will be highly visible, teach undergraduate or graduate courses, and serve as examples of scholarly excellence for women students.  These women might stay for a year or some shorter period.  These would be rotating positions for which departments could apply, but should not be construed as a means to avoid hiring tenure-track women faculty.
  • Evaluate hires at the assistant and full professor level to see that these positions are distributed in proportion to the availability of women and men.
  • Review temporary hires to determine if there is gender discrimination.  Develop a plan to address inequities of salary and benefits to people in temporary positions.  A major concern is that temporary faculty have salaries and benefits below those of teaching assistants or faculty for comparable work, and that temporary positions seldom lead to full-time employment.  Address the differences among departments in what they pay temporary faculty.
  • Improve retention of women to help increase their numbers.  More should be done to determine and address the causes of attrition among women faculty, administrators, and upper-level state classified personnel.  Exit surveys or follow-up questionnaires would provide feedback about specific aspects of the campus environment.

Improve the Work Environment

  • Include equal treatment of women as an important component of annual evaluations of all CSU personnel.  Evaluations of supervisors (both faculty and staff) need to include specific questions about equal treatment.  Similar questions should be included on the ASCSU instructor evaluation form.  Staff should be able to evaluate their supervisors.
Set salaries and give salary increases equally to women and men
  • Establish review processes to compare salaries of women and men, including undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, state classified personnel, and administrative professionals.  Comparisons should include both salary and benefits (including twelve-month guaranteed salaries) to give an accurate assessment of the similarities and differences.
  • Evaluate the impact of matching outside job offers on the salaries of women compared to men.  Many women feel they cannot seek outside offers because they are constrained by family and career commitments of their spouse, or they fear no counter offer would be forthcoming.  This is an area where women need mentoring and information about strategies to receive salaries, benefits, and startup packages comparable to men.
Increase opportunities for women to advance and to develop additional professional expertise
  • Establish a means to inform all women about career development and mentoring opportunities.  List state classified job openings and transfers in Comment and in the Collegian.
  • Require supervisors to release state classified personnel for at least two training opportunities each year.  While many courses and workshops are available, many women feel they are not supported in pursuing these benefits.  If this were mandatory, supervisors would be more likely to support attendance at developmental activities related to a current position or advancement to another position.  Release time to take courses might be facilitated by mechanisms like those in the section on balance of work and family responsibilities.
  • Work with the State Classified offices in Denver to offer more workshops in Fort Collins.
  • Assume as much responsibility on campus as State policy allows for decisions affecting state classified personnel, particularly for upgrading positions.
  • Evaluate the impact of lengthy transition retirements on job availability for young people.
  • Evaluate whether admission standards and resources such as teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and scholarships are equal for graduate student women and men.

Improve Campus Climate

Improve sensitivity to the difficulty balancing family, work, and school commitments
  • The Commission on Women and Gender Equity should research strategies used by universities that are successful in the inclusion of women and that help women balance family, work, and school commitments.  These models should help us move more quickly to a more woman friendly environment.
  • Evaluate existing policies and the uniformity with which they are applied.
  • Establish a mechanism to support balancing family with work and/or school.
  • Develop a mechanism for paid leave that applies to faculty, state classified personnel, and administrative professionals that does not eliminate annual and sick leave time.  Remove the stigma from pregnancy leave for general faculty.  While pregnancy leave is available, it is frequently not treated as an acceptable activity.
  • Pair people with family commitments who can cover similar positions for short periods of time.  Establish a mechanism to allow these pairs of people to trade time rather than costing the departments extra to bring in temporary personnel.  Implicit in this suggesting is a strategy to allow flex time so people can work odd hours to pay back time lost.  Another option would be backup or floater staff to cover time off for emergencies.
  • Provide instruction for administrative professionals and state classified personnel on how to negotiate comp time, flex time, job sharing, and other innovative ways to balance family/work/school conflicts.
  • Develop a sick-leave bank for administrative professionals similar to that for state classified personnel.
  • Have a uniform policy of covering emergency leave rather than a policy that is applied differently by individual units or departments.
Make child care available on campus
  • Establish a comprehensive child care plan that takes advantage of existing expertise and provides the levels of child care to fit needs established by the recent campus survey.  Child care has been an issue on campus and the subject of many administrative reviews over more than ten years.  Although this issue is complicated, it is time to move forward.  We suggest that the administration consult with peer institutions that have child care on campus to find out how they have overcome the problems that are perceived here.
  • Educate people that both men and women are responsible for child and dependent care and that a sense of community is necessary for good psychological development of children.
  • Since it is difficult to move children from their homes at night as would be required with a 24-hour child care facility, establish a group of trained people who would be on call to take care of children at the homes of students, staff, or faculty.  These people should be trained through the Red Cross or a similar program and a number of people should be identified to be on call each evening.
  • Provide several locations where child care cooperatives can be supervised by a professional yet staffed by parents who trade work for child care.  This might involve child care programs already in the community or new campus locations.
  • Increase awareness of the detrimental effects of stereotyping through education and discussions.
  • Demonstrate the negative impacts of stereotyping with a poster contest.
  • Teach people how to confront stereotyping in constructive ways.

Improve the Academic Environment

  • Increase the inclusion of women’s scholarship in the curriculum.  This may be accomplished by expanding the Gender Integration Project to the sciences and other areas that have been resistant to include women in the curriculum.
  • Make faculty, instructors, and teaching assistants aware of the behaviors that make the classroom hostile to women and particularly women of color.  Develop training programs for teaching assistants and new faculty orientation.  Publish scholarly presentations on behaviors that contribute to the hostile classroom environment in Comment to reach current faculty.
  • Show the impact of women’s scholarship on society though articles in Comment and the Collegian.
Recognition of women as serious scholars
  • Acknowledge women’s scholarly excellence through a University Distinguished Women Professorship and other awards.
  • Expand criteria for University Distinguished Professor to embrace alternative scholarly and creative endeavors.
  • Evaluate the equity of admission standards and resources for graduate students including the distribution of teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and scholarships.  Make results available to departments.

Safety and Harassment

Improve general physical security in buildings and residence halls
  • Find simple, innovative solutions to improve the safety on campus; for example, send letters to faculty and teaching assistants who teach night courses urging them to develop safety plans in each class.  These plans might include having members of the class park their cars close together or establishing companions to walk with them.  Faculty might facilitate use of the Walk Home Program.
  • Provide public phones in all buildings and have the Walk Home Program phone number posted at each phone.
  • Strengthen the awareness program about locking doors to residence halls and other buildings.  Continue to evaluate and strengthen locked-door policies, guest policies, and education about safety in the residence halls.
  • Provide sufficient funding for education about alcohol and drug abuse and prevention of sexual assault.
  • Clarify what constitutes harassment and the University’s intolerance of it through articles in the Collegian and Comment, Professional Development Institute sessions, orientation programs for new hires, teaching assistant training, Preview, Premier, residence hall orientation, ASCSU training, and a new orientation program for graduate students who are not teaching assistants.  Remind departments about the availability of training about harassment.
  • Establish clearer processes and publicize how to deal with problems before they become sever enough to go to grievance.  Women need strategies to deal with harassment and other uncomfortable situations, particularly those that involve people in positions of authority.  When supervisors, mentors, teachers, or teaching assistants are involved, women are frequently fearful of losing their job, grade, or other opportunities if they object to behavior that makes them uncomfortable.
  • The unique functions of the Office of Equal Opportunity and advocacy offices should be made clearer.  The best faculty and staff advocate is the person in the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).  Many people do not know that the EAP program exits and that a counselor is available as an advocate and advisor.  EAP needs more publicity and to have the position expanded to full time.  For women students, the Office of Women’s Programs and Studies should continue to be the advocacy office.  Advocacy should be separate from the formal complaint system dealt with by the Office of Equal Opportunity and the University Mediation Officer.
  • Evaluate and change grievance procedures to be consistent and fair.  There is a lack of confidence in the procedures, particularly as they address harassment and abuse of supervisory power.  The resolution of problems should be the responsibility of the unit and not engender fear of retaliation.
  • Evaluate grievances to assure uniformity of implementation of grievance procedures.
  • Establish reasonable and uniform sanctions.

Administrative Accountability

  • Several focus groups addressed the ability of the Office of Equal Opportunity to assure that equal opportunity objectives are met.  There seems to be a general impression that OEO does not have sufficient authority to challenge cases where top female candidates are overlooked or to act in cases of harassment.
  • Accurate and consistent data about the status of women should be readily available.  Data coming from different offices on campus give very different pictures of the status of women.


When the Women’s Task Force first convened, the group decided to review documents from various individuals, groups, and committees who have already attempted to identify and make recommendations about women’s issues on this campus.  This rationale was that knowing the issues identified in the past would help in more accurately assessing where CSU stands today in its quest for gender equity.  This was not intended to be a comprehensive review but merely an attempt to focus the work of the Task Force.  The following pages are a brief summary of those identified issues.

Almost every issue identified could be included under the broad rubrics of inclusion and access.  Specifically, women seek to be included in and have equal access to all parts of the system of higher education.  For clarity, these two headings have been broken down into four target areas:

Equity of resources and expectations

Equal access to positions and opportunities for professional development

Policy making and accountability of leaders

Inclusiveness versus exclusiveness

It is also worth noting that all women on this campus do not share the same needs.  The needs of a woman of color may be different from a lesbian woman, which might be different from a non-traditional aged student, which might be different from an Associate Dean.  Thus, while the issues identified are important to women in general, they will apply to individual women differently.


The following documents were reviewed

The Brochure of the CSU Committee on the Status of Women, 1970-1973

Recruitment of Faculty Women – A committee chaired by Wayne Viney, Dept. of Psychology, 1974

Program Review, Women’s Program, 1982

Report on the Status of Women Faculty at CSU 1989

Unit Diversity Project: Women Faculty in the College of Natural Sciences, including a report by Nancy Betz, 1991

The City’s Diversity Task Force, 1993

Faculty Women’s Caucus/Retreat, 1992-1993

Accreditation Report of the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, 1994

Recommendations by K. Wedge, 1994

These documents were compiled and reviewed in September 1994.  The Assessment of Title IX (1976) was not reviewed.

Issue and Recommendations

The issues and specific recommendations made in the reviewed reports are presented in four categories.  although all issues and recommendations are not common to every report, they were cited frequently enough to suggest they deserve attention.

Equity of Resources and Expectations


Differential treatment of male and female faculty in the same department in both teaching loads and allocation of research resources

Salary inequity for women relative to men

Heavy service and advising loads relative to men where there are limited numbers of women faculty

Excessive loads in terms of role expectations (for example, with parenting expectations) and the lack of systemic flexibility surrounding these issues

Lack of cooperation of secretaries who are not accustomed to working for women

Specific Recommendations

Acknowledge committee work in evaluations (committees seem to excessively burden women faculty)

Acknowledge the high demand for advocacy and role models

Make criteria for promotion, tenure, salary raises, and grievance procedures explicit

Establish equal promotion rates and salaries

Demand professionalism in tenure and promotion or termination decisions

Increase benefits and participation of part-time faculty

Recognize national trends in social research that support alternative research topics and methodologies as being accepted academic endeavors

Equal Access to Positions and Opportunities for Professional Development


Few senior women as role models for women faculty, either as scholarly role models or women who have a “powerful voice,” especially at middle administrative levels

Too few serious attempts to recruit and retain women

Informal sources of information which may be vital to success are less available to women

Limited knowledge and understanding by women of opportunities for professional development

Low expectations due to traditional social role

Specific Recommendations

Question the loss of competent women to other universities

Establish clear procedures on collaboration within and between departments

Provide opportunity for advancement

End tokenism in hiring (when protected class faculty are hired for special or temporary positions, departments may claim that women and minorities are not available during regular searches)

Have women on hiring committees – Keep records indicating which recruiting channels were used to hire.  Be sensitive to job description, avoid exclusive language

Establish networks, both in and outside of departments for mentoring faculty women

Develop visible, faculty supported plans which prepare women with life skills to meet challenges they will face if they enter predominately male fields

Develop programs targeting the professional development of women faculty, especially targeting probationary tenure track faculty and midcareer faculty with potential for administrative leadership

Establish internships for women faculty in the Deans office

Publish a directory of women faculty

Hold University-sponsored dinners for women faculty

Policy Making and Accountability of Leaders


Administration provides money but does not assume responsibility for carrying through efforts to expand diversity

Inadequate flexibility to accommodate multiple roles of women

Reliance on women volunteers

Specific Recommendations

Eradicate the null environment for women

Expect administrators to take action on protected class issues

Insist that department heads and senior faculty understand and discuss equal opportunity

Make personnel policies responsive to changing demographics (family situations, etc.)

Develop explicit, systemic, and written means of insuring equity in teaching loads, resources, salary, and committee responsibilities at the departmental level

Reduce teaching loads rather than time for research when women at research-oriented universities have heavy service commitment

Compensate assistant professors for teaching outside their areas of expertise with reduced responsibilities in other areas

Reconsider having one woman on every committee because there are few women faculty, instead, priorities should be established so women serve on more vital or powerful committees, rather than serving as a “token member” on every committee

Stop requiring that a person be a “hard bargainer” in order to be treated fairly, for example, in negotiating for initial salary

Hire women at the full professor level

Hire women in departments where there currently are none

Inclusiveness versus Exclusiveness


Diverse needs and expectations of women

Competence of women must be proved while for men it is assumed

Course contents exclude women’s contributions and concerns

Women’s occupations are devalued

Gender harassment

Sexual harassment

Different treatment and expectations of women

Specific Recommendations

Create accountability, coordination, and leadership on women’s issues

Enhance community awareness of women’s issues

Increase education and training surrounding issues of diversity

Increase sensitivity to gender/sex biased language

Stimulate research on the economic, social, psychological, legal status of women in the community and at Colorado State

Support women’s leadership, endorse women speakers

Encourage individuals to assume responsibilities for programs and policies related to women

Provide concrete plans budgetary support for the future of Women’s Programs and Studies

Develop a Women’s Task Force which will develop and recommend strategies for implementation of these ideas

In reviewing the literature relevant to women’s career development, particularly in the academy, the words “chilly climate” and “null environment” summarize the experience.  Research demonstrates that the workplace environment and therefore the academy have traditionally been defined by norms common to European-American males.  The result is that when women, and particularly women of color, appear to or are deemed to differ from these norms, these differences are translated into disadvantages or deficiencies.  In evaluating this concept of the female experience as deviation from the male norm, the relevant question is how sexism manifests itself in women’s career development, the work environment, and more specifically, the academic environment.  The following is a list of the issues described in more detail in the full Literature Review that appears in Appendix C.

Women in the workplace

Sex segregation and stratification: women appear most often in less skilled areas, and in jobs stereotypically deemed appropriate for women.

Pay equity: women earn less than men even when performing equal work.

Gender socialization: women’s work and development is devalued.

Attributions of success: women’s success is attributed to luck or hard work, men’s is attributed to ability.

Women in traditionally male fields: women experience lack of support, mentorship, and advancement.

Role conflict: women experience different 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

Climate issues: despite gains, women do not experience full equality in their educational experiences.  This is confirmed by extensive research and climate studies.  Women report that a sense of devaluing is central to this “chilly climate.”

Career development: the higher the rank, the fewer women.

Retention and promotion of women: attrition starts early at the undergraduate and masters level; as women continue to pursue academic experiences, the lack of women colleagues results in missed opportunities.

Tokenism: tokenism is conferred upon individuals of minority groups, creating unreasonable expectations and excessive pressure (see women of color).

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.

Overburdening and inadequate mentoring: women face higher service demands, higher advising loads, and a lack of mentors.

Isolation: in many areas there are so few women that they are frequently the only women in the workplace.

Balancing family and work: this is difficult at best and receives little support.  Many women feel punished or at best overlooked if they try to juggle academia and family.

Student Issues

The common theme for women remains that of climate.  Students more often express concerns about 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

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.

In recent years, the use of focus groups has become an increasingly popular means of gaining a sense of people’s thoughts, concerns, and opinions on a given topic of interest (Morgan, 1988; Stewart and Shamdasani, 1990).  It is a process of bringing together small groups of individuals and engaging them in a facilitated discussion with the intent of eliciting a broad range of ideas, experiences, and perceptions from group participants as a response to selected stimulus questions.  Focus groups can be geared toward brain storming, problem solving, goal setting, identifying needs, and other purposes.

Early in our process, the Task Force decided this would be a valuable means of gathering input from a cross-section of CSU campus community members about the most common concerns and issues of women at Colorado State University.  Data from focus group discussions along with the literature review were the basis of the survey instrument used with a much larger sample of women.

A total of forty-two focus group discussions were conducted during spring semester 1995, with a total of 258 participants (203 women and 55 men).  The average group had six participants, but ranged in size from two to fifteen participants.  These groups fell into the following categories:

Faculty Members – 8

Administrative Professionals – 5

State Classified Personnel – 12

Students – 17 (3 for graduate students and 14 for undergraduates)

When viewed across racial/ethnic and gender differences, there were nine focus groups specifically for men, nine for people of color (including two for men of color), and twenty-six for groups of women selected at random.  We realize that there is potential for self selection by those who chose to attend the focus groups.  Our survey data show that if self selection did occur, the concerns of women in focus groups are widely shared by other women on campus.

Detailed explanations of Focus Group sampling procedures, discussion format, recording procedures, data analysis, and results are in Appendix D.

Content Analysis

Content analysis was the primary method used to analyze the focus group transcripts.  The unit of analysis is each individual statement generated about the concerns and issues of women.  Content analysis is inductive, with no a priori hypotheses, and discovery of the major themes and dimensions arise from the data being analyzed.  Four Task Force members coded, organized, and interpreted more than 1100 statements generated across the forty-two focus group discussions.

In reviewing and discussion the focus group transcripts, a final coding system included 107 codes.  Thus, a very broad range of women’s concerns and issues were raised in the focus group discussions.  Once this coding system was created, one or more codes were assigned to each individual statement in the focus group transcripts.  More than one code could be assigned to any given statement.  The wording frequently expressed more than one issue or concern of women.

The next level of content analysis reduced the number categories.  The following is a list of major categories that captured the full range of women’s concerns and issues.  (The number following each category indicates the number of data codes contained within the category.  For a complete outline of the overall coding system, see Appendix D.)

Major Categories of the Coding System

Balance in Life (6)

Campus Climate

Classism at CSU (6)

Stereotypes and Other Negative Factors in the Environment (34)

Too few Women in Key Positions (6)

Diversity Issues (12)

Employment-Related Concerns

Work Environment (14)

Double Standards for Men and Women (3)

Policy Concerns (4)

Fundamental Differences Between Men and Women (6)

Harassment/Safety Concerns (8)

Student & Classroom Environment Concerns

Student Concerns (4)

Classroom Environment Concerns (4)

Differences Between Groups

The next level of analysis examined differences between groups on campus, including position at CSU, race, and sex.  One way to identify differences is to examine the frequency with which concerns were mentioned.  While numerical analyses are not widely used in content analysis, Morgan (1988) argues, “Some quantitative possibilities (in qualitative analysis) are both obvious and basic.  If one were to conduct discussions of the same topic with distinctively different groups, there would be good reason to compare how frequently different aspects of the topic were mentioned in the different sets of groups.”  The results of this frequency analysis can be reviewed in Appendix D.

Focus Group Priorities

Each focus group was asked to generate their own list of the top five priorities for women, based on the issues and concerns in that particular discussion.  These individual priority lists were compiled and tabulated by group.  Priority data more accurately represent the most important issues of focus group participants.

Results: Rank Ordering of Priorities from Focus Group Discussions

Faculty Women

  1. Child care issues
  2. Salary inequity
  3. Women are overloaded
  4. Lack of women role models and mentors
  5. Double standards
  6. Women often hired as temporary employees
  7. Tokenism
  8. Physical safety concerns
  9. No accountability for gender equity
  10. Power inequity between men and women

Administrative-Professional Women

  1. Salary inequity
  2. Lack of professional development opportunities
  3. Limited job security
  4. Lack of respect for women
  5. Too few women in positions of authority
  6. Child care issues
  7. Style differences between men and women
  8. Inadequate grievance procedures
  9. Physical safety concerns
  10. Women must adjust to male system

State Classified Women

  1. Salary inequity
  2. Lack of advancement opportunities
  3. Lack of recognition
  4. Lack of professional development opportunities
  5. Insensitivity to difficulties of balancing work and family
  6. Discrimination against women
  7. Physical safety concerns
  8. Child care issues
  9. Lack of respect for women
  10. Ineffective policies
  11. Issues with one’s supervisor

Women Students

  1. Physical safety concerns
  2. Lack of women role models and mentors (including women of color)
  3. Isolation of women
  4. Lack of resources for women
  5. Child care issues
  6. Chilly classroom environment
  7. Responses to sexual harassment
  8. Women’s and other diverse perspectives ignored in courses
  9. Devaluing of women’s issues
  10. Insensitivity to cultural differences

Male Participants

  1. Physical safety concerns
  2. Style differences between men and women
  3. Salary inequity
  4. Incidence of sexual harassment
  5. Lack of respect for women
  6. Negative stereotypes of women
  7. Insensitivity to difficulties of balancing work and family
  8. Men do not understand women
  9. Women must adjust to the male system
  10. Lack of women role models and mentors

Storyline of Women’s Concerns at Colorado State


The final component of data analysis is the creation of narrative storyline summaries which capture a rich sense of the themes and dimensions expressed in the focus groups.  Two members of the Task Force trained in qualitative research methods drafted storyline summaries from the focus groups for people of color, for men, and for the full range of women’s concerns and issues articulated in all of the focus group discussions.  This process links together the broad themes in the data to bring structure and fluidity to the voiced concerns.  Direct quotes from the focus group transcripts into these storylines help illustrate the meanings and the context of women’s experiences at CSU.

The primary concerns for women at Colorado State campus relate to the environment that makes women feel they do not fit in, and that their experience is not valued.  Thus, the first section speaks to this subjective experience of women at CSU.  Specifically, it point to the perception of women that the system at CSU does not equitably embrace women’s experiences.  Women often feel as if they have to adapt their natural style to be valued or to be recognized for their accomplishments.

The second section of the storyline targets the actual work experience of women on campus and breaks down their experiences by different groups of employees: faculty, administrative professional, and state classified.  The third section outlines student issues, while the fourth section explores concerns about emotional and physical safety on campus.  The fifth section examines issues of diversity for women and the last section focuses on the difficulty that many women find balancing family and work commitments.

The Campus Environment

The System of Higher Education Does Not Always Support Women

The greatest source of frustration for women at CSU is the presence of negative attitudes and stereotypes in the campus environment.  Specifically, women comment that they encounter behaviors and attitudes daily which feel demeaning and discounting.  Cumulatively throughout the day and the week, women find their ideas and their issues dismissed, and their history ignored.  In subtle ways, they begin to feel as if their contributions and unique experiences are not important.

These experiences seem to be linked to a hierarchical system which does not include many women and tends to ignore or devalue women’s experiences.  Women feel that they are the “outgroup” and men are the “ingroup,” and that to be recognized or valued they must conform or transform to fit the system which already exists.  Depending on their position at the University, Women in positions of authority feel silenced and excluded in decision making processes.  For example, one faculty member stated that, “women are silenced on committees.  Our contributions and ideas are overlooked or seen as brilliant when later brought up by a man.”  Another faculty woman echoed this opinion when she commented that women are “criticized for being ‘too slow,’ ‘too fast,’ or ‘too intellectual.'”  State classified women may feel the effects of not being part of the dominant system when they are not recognized nor respected for the work they do.  Women of color are aware that they feel “different”; they voice experiences of isolation, or feel as if their individuality is not appreciated.

Women Feel Excluded

Women at CSU comment that they must adjust to the male system in order to fit in, but most often feel no matter what they do, they will be excluded from the system.  For example, an academic administrator commented that, “expectations of women administrators are different from those of male administrators.  Women have to justify actions with stronger more tightly argued rationales.  Men may get ahead by who they know, networking, and not their abilities or understanding.”  A male administrative professional acknowledged how men’s sentiments of distrust tend to exclude women and commented: “There are power problems: when a woman does have a role with some power there is a certain cynicism as to how she got there and what she will do now that she is there.  If a woman has power, she has an ‘agenda’; if a man has power, he has a ‘plan.'”

Women Sense a Lack of Recognition and Respect

Women feel that they will not be recognized unless they perform tasks in a particular way, even if their way is equally or more efficient.  A man of color on the faculty commented that “there is a lack of appreciation for the ways women lead, learn, teach, research, etc.”  He also noted that, “during evaluations women are penalized for not fitting, ‘the mold.'”  Consequently they are, “not respected and not promoted.”  An academic administrator commented that, “new hires tend to clone the current group.  Alternative career paths are not viewed as having potential for quality.”  In other words, here is one acceptable way to perform your job and any deviations from that path are looked down upon.  With regard to the lack of respect, many women feel as if the work that they do is taken for granted.  They point out that a classist system is in place at the University between those who have formal education experience and those who do not.  Many women find themselves categorized with those who have less formal educational experience and often feel as if their work is not acknowledged, appreciated, or respected because of that distinction.

Negative Stereotypes Exist in the Campus Environment

Even when women do fit “the mold” they tend to be labeled or stereotyped negatively (by both men and women).  A state classified woman noted “women in authority tend to have many male characteristics.  They also tend to be loners.”  A male state classified employee commented that, “women want to be part of the system, but still want to be treated as women,” implying that you must act in a stereotypically masculine way to “fit in.”  These statements make explicit the double bind for achievement oriented women.  To succeed, they must conform to the masculine norm; yet when they do this they are criticized for not being “feminine.”  These women do not fit into either group, both of which are critical, and neither of which are supportive.

Few Men Align Themselves With Women’s Issues

In addition to feeling as if they are in a double bind, many women feel alienated by the sense that there is little interest by men or by the administration to align themselves with women’s issues.  For example, when discussing the sale of pornographic magazines in the bookstore, a male administrative professional noted that, “very seldom do men complain about these images.  if someone is going to object, it is almost always a woman.”  Similarly, a student in women’s studies noted that there is a dearth of “aware” male mentors who are advocates for female students.  A faculty woman noted that there is a “lack of consciousness in men about unequal treatment.”

Comments by men are detailed in the storyline on page 44.

Women’s Issues Are Not Taken Seriously

Due to this general lack of understanding about women’s experiences, women are also aware that when they choose to focus on women’s issues, their research and teaching is seen as second rate.  A member of theCampus Women’s Alliance pointed out that women’s studies classes do not count as social studies credit for the College of Business, implying that these are not academically acceptable courses.  Junior/Senior women commented that there is little discussion or debate of women’s issues.  They noted a “non-appreciation of feminism,” and a “lack of consciousness” about women’s issues.  A student in women’s studies noted that it is difficult to find graduate funding in this area.  Another student wondered why there is not both a major and a minor available in women studies.

Some felt that this non-appreciation of women’s issues is demonstrated by the lack of available resources for women.  One faculty woman commented that, “men have control of the resources and the resources are unequally partitioned.  This included space, equipment, and money.”  Others felt that services which are primarily used by women, such as child care and psychological services, are limited.  An administrative professional commented, “student service units with high use by women do not have high status, and are not considered important.”

Women Sense a Lack of Commitment By the Administration to Gender Issues

Contributing to the feeling in the campus environment that women’s experiences are devalued is the sentiment that there is a lack of commitment from the administration to gender issues.  It was commented that, “the administration does not have to commit to real change.  They are self serving and pay attention to diversity to look good, but fundamental change in the system is not wanted.”  Another staff member commented, “if role models are present in the upper administration (who value gender equity), there is a lack of communication from the administration about expectations of the treatment of women at other levels (of the University).”  Generally, women feel that high level leadership on gender issues is missing, and without this leadership it becomes easy for others to dismiss gender issues as unimportant.

Work Experience For Women

In addition to a general feeling that there is an unsupportive environment for women, there is concern regarding how such an atmosphere translates into the actual work experience for women.  Women’s work experience on campus is as diverse as the women themselves, however there are several main points which were raised.  Primary issues of concern for all women include equity of salary, raises, promotions, and benefits.  There is a sense that women receive unequal pay, relative to their male counterparts, for the same position and time spent at the University.  For example, one faculty member commented, “when a woman receives an ‘average’ salary, it is considered equitable, regardless of her experience, education, publications, teaching, or contributions.”  While all women are concerned about the equity between men and women in terms of salary, raises, promotions, and benefits, their specific concerns can be best explained by breaking women down into groups on campus: 1) faculty women, 2) administrative professionals, 3) state classified employees, and 4) students.

Faculty Women

The faculty women are most concerned with a double standard which seems to be in place with regard to evaluating work and competence.  One faculty member commented, “women need to excel at all aspects of the job.  For instance they can not blow off advising like some men do and still survive the tenure and promotion process.”  Another woman commented that, “women constantly have to compromise to exist; they have to back off, while men do not.”  Or, they commented that, “women are expected to be grateful for whatever they can get from their department head or dean.”  They note that, “a dean responds to communications from men, but ignores communications from a woman.”

Faculty women often feel overloaded.  They feel that, “women have more time commitments than their male peers (i.e. class load, advising, committees).”  They feel that “department heads do not protect women’s time.”  They also note that students treat them differently from their male counterparts.  Specifically, they are perceived as more approachable, or more lenient.  Additionally, some women faculty members feel silenced on committees.  They note that if “they are the only woman in a group setting, they are seen as delaying the process if they desire to pursue a discussion.”  There is a distinct sense that women are placed on committees to bring diverse representation, yet are not appreciated when they bring alternative suggestions or opinions to the table.

Women faculty members also cite a concern for the lack of mentors for women on campus, including themselves.  An academic administrator points out that, “there is little mentoring for women throughout their academic training for things like salary negotiations, other perks, conditions of employment, and conflict resolution.”  Because there are so few women in positions of authority, some women feel isolated in their departments.  They find that their informal networking opportunities are limited, which impacts productivity.  They also find that by being isolated, they often take on greater service and advising loads because they are the “token” female voice.  Some faculty women feel that this isolation is a direct result of the lack of effort made to both recruit qualified women and retain them.  They feel that many qualified women either do not come to CSU, or do not stay here because there is no active commitment to making these women feel as if their contributions are valuable.

Finally, women faculty members are aware that teaching styles which are nontraditional (e.g. group discussion, class projects, experiential learning) are often devalued by much of campus.  one faculty woman stated, “students only understand male teaching styles.  Women’s styles of small group format are criticized as a reflection of lack of organization or of not being prepared.  Generally, non-hierarchical teaching methods are not respected.”

Administrative Professional Women

Administrative professional women seem most concerned with issues of job security and the lack of opportunity for professional advancement.  With regard to the employment status of all administrative professionals, one employee stated, “there is little job security.  There is nowhere to go to be promoted, and we work at the will of the university.  There is not a sense of high morale among administrative professionals, there is not a sense of the University as caring much about this group of employees!”  for women, the nebulousness of the “at will” clause seems even more threatening.  Specifically, many administrative professional women are working in positions which have less of a decision making voice.  Therefore, they feel the impact of being “at the will” of the university more stringently than some of their male counterparts.

An additional reason that women feel so susceptible to the “at will” clause is because there are fewer networking opportunities for women, which can impact job security.  In situations where ambiguous decisions are being made about hiring and firing, informal networks take on a great deal of importance.  Many women feel on the outside of those networks and therefore feel less secure in their jobs.

There is a feeling that promotion opportunities for administrative professionals are, “too few if any,” and an awareness that, “when people are brought in from outside to fill vacancies/new positions, this limits advancement opportunities for CSU women to be hired into those positions.”  In sum, the administrative professionals want to feel as if their jobs are valued and would like University policy to clearly support workers who are performing well in their jobs.

State Classified Women

State Classified women seem most concerned about equity of treatment in the workplace and the fact that, often, their concerns are neither addressed nor taken seriously.  These women often feel their work is not respected or rewarded.  Several commented they are expected to work late or come in early to meet deadlines that have been created by another’s procrastination.  One employee mentioned that she typed a grant proposal until two in the morning to meet a deadline and then “was not even invited to the party to celebrate getting the grant.”

Many women (and men) in this group express dissatisfaction with ambiguity of job expectations as well as the lack of uniformity regarding interpretation and enforcement of some of the work policies.  One employee commented, “there is not consistent policy interpretation across campus about taking classes, other training/education, evaluations, or sexual abuse and harassment.”

The implications of having policies in place which are subject to interpretation is that their interpretation is usually left up to the discretion of the supervisor of the particular department.  One woman acknowledged this problem when she commented, “the system doesn’t work for all equally – having the support of your supervisor makes a difference.”  Another woman commented that unfair policies are “set at your manager’s discretion.”  Ambiguous policy making sets the stage for conflict between supervisors and employees, as well as between people who have been in the system for a long time and new employees.  Gender issues are exacerbated by the fact that often the supervisors are male and employees are female.  Consequently, men are interpreting policy, which lays the groundwork for gender conflict and power struggles.

In addition to being frustrated with the ambiguity of certain policies, the state classified employees are dissatisfied with many of the policies which are in place.  For example, there were several comments made that the PDQ’s are an ineffective means of defining job descriptions.  Others commented that evaluations are not always handled well and express a desire to have the opportunity to give input about their supervisor in the evaluation procedure (without retaliation).  There is also some resentment that there is no over-time pay for additional work.  Others report that there is very little “flex” time available and that the sick leave policies are inadequate.


Undergraduate students are most concerned about the environment of the classroom, the residence halls, and the athletic programs.  In terms of the classroom environment, students are concerned with actual presentation of course work as well as adequate advising.  A group of junior and senior women commented that, “it seems harder for women students to approach male professors.”  They also commented that in some cases, “women are coddled by male professors and made to believe that they can’t handle it because they are women; consequently women are not expected to do as well.”  Some of these upperclass women also commented that they felt “steered” into certain classically female careers.  They note that, “the path towards a major is more paved for men.  There is more encouragement toward the ‘male-dominated’ majors for men and more discouragement for women.”

Some undergraduate women also feel as if they are sometimes evaluated on their appearance rather than competence.  One woman states, “women are more scrutinized on their clothing and sometimes this seems to play into a professor’s thinking about your ability.”  Others comment that their biggest concern is that, “there is little infusion of the role of women in courses and majors.”  Conversely, some acknowledge the positive effect of the gender integration project, but feel that more courses need to be included.  They comment, “the University does little to enlighten women about political issues of concern to women.”  Specifically, they find that, “there is little debate of women’s issues.”  Others feel that there need to be more women’s studies courses, but are aware of the fact that they may be ridiculed or labeled if they profess having interest in women’s issues.  They also report concern that “gender biased language in the classroom” permeates to other parts of the campus environment.  Several young undergraduate women noted that they felt excluded by the assumptions made by professors that all of their students are heterosexual.

Women athletes were vocal about differential treatment of male and female athletes by the athletic department.  Some feel that they are “not advised of special privileges afforded to male athletes.”  They note that “male athletes have better traveling conditions and arrangements which are more luxurious and comfortable.”  One woman state her frustration with the fact that, “per diem for food is $5 for women versus $10 for men” despite the fact that women, “can sometimes eat as much as men following a game.”  Another woman athlete commented that the women’s programs are “under-funded” and “under-promoted” relative to their male counterparts.  Others commented that there is inequity in training room facilities and support, “depending on the particular sport, your scholarship status, and the profitability and profile of your sport.”  Another woman noted that she was penalized for being late for practice when the trainers worked with football players but ignored her.  Women also brought up that athletes aren’t expected to have the same work quality to get good grades in some classes.

Graduate Students

Graduate students have similar concerns about gender exclusion in the curriculum but are also very concerned about the status of advising and mentoring for women students.  They comment, “most full professors are men,” and “the percentages of male and female faculty are unequal in most disciplines.”  Specifically, they feel there is a “lack of women role models,” and/or “women in positions of power.”  Therefore they have few women to turn to discuss and explore their own future in academics.  They also note there is a “lack of people to turn to in uncomfortable situations/unsafe environments.”

Emotional and Physical Safety Concerns

Physical Safety

One of the most frequently cited concerns by women on campus was that they do not feel physically safe on campus.  Specifically, they cite that there is not enough lighting or security in the buildings and parking lots, especially after regular class hours or on weekends.  Others feel that the Walk Home Program is not very accessible or safe, and that there are not enough emergency phones on campus.  The cumulative effect of poor lighting and security leaves women feeling vulnerable to either physical or sexual assault.  Several undergraduate women expressed that they do not feel safe in the residence halls because lock down polices are not enforced or because of the excessive use of alcohol.  They comment that you never know who could be walking down your hall or into your bathroom.  Other women report that they do not feel physically safe because of abuse or harassment.

Emotional Safety

In addition to not always feeling physically safe, many women do not feel emotionally safe.  They fear that if they speak out about inequities that they perceive, they will not be supported in their concerns, but will be ostracized, or subject to retaliation.  This fear of retaliation is directly related to procedures to report problems and grievance procedures.  An employee who works in the University Counseling Center commented that women often feel that administrators will not support a person if they report harassment.  She also noted that, “any woman who speaks out is labeled as a ‘trouble-maker.'”  Several other women echoed this opinion feeling that they had earned a negative reputation for speaking out against unfair policies, or simply being honest.  Generally, there is a sentiment that it is not emotionally safe to bring up harassment or unfair policies because nothing will be done, and you create more harm for yourself by filing grievances.  Several woman shared stores of sexual harassment which occurred at CSU and acknowledged the sense of powerlessness they felt with regard to taking any action to ending that harassment, or making it public.

Issues of Diversity

In general, there seems to be a sense that diversity is not appreciated at CSU.  The campus has limited awareness and understanding of issues of diversity, primarily as they relate to race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.  The lack of awareness is exemplified in both academic courses and the campus environment.  Issues for women and men of color are highlighted in the storyline on page 41.

Lesbian and bisexual women on campus noted that they felt “invisible.”  They commented that “unique family units are not valued, or recognized as legitimate.”  Examples of non-recognition span from basic factors such as the pervasive use of heterosexist language and assumptions in the classroom, to the fact that life-partners can not legitimately receive job benefits.

Balancing Work and Family

An extremely important area of concern for women at CSU involves the logical difficulties of balancing work and family.  There is a sense that CSU does not support parenting or family commitment, particularly for single parents.  A male administrative professional stated, “parenting is not well supported in general at CSU.  It depends on what department you are in whether you will have a ‘family friendly’ supervisor or not.”  He also commented, “single parents have special difficulties, and while there are some men in this role, this is mostly an issue for women.”  “Greater support for parenting would benefit all people.  CSU needs to make child care and sick-child needs a priority.”

An administrative professional noted, “women in high positions are expected to act like men (e.g. job is number one).  This paradigm has little regard for dependent care, usually a role of women.”  She also commented, “men frequently have support outside of work (a “wife”), while women may not.”  Many other women echoed this sentiment.  They felt that there were inadequate policies regarding maternity and family leave, and that they would be “penalized” with regards to advancement opportunities if they attempted to balance family and work life.

Perhaps one of the greatest concerns for women with children is the lack of adequate and affordable child care.  Particularly, they comment that there are difficulties finding child care on short-term or emergency notice.  Their options feel particularly limited when a child is sick, or when they need help with child care after-hours.  There is also a sentiment that there is a general lack of facilities, both on campus and in the community.

A final area of concern, regarding the balance of work and family involves the limited job opportunities for significant others.  Faculty women note that it is often difficult to retain the most qualified women because they are receiving job offers at other Universities which make attempts to help them balance family and work commitments.  One faculty member commented that, “”some top female candidates have not accepted job offers here because we’ve not been able to locate jobs for their spouses.  This can often result in “commuter marriages.”  We have no formal program to address the issue of “trailing spouses,” for both men and women.””


The impression given by women at CSU is that they value their involvement with a system of higher education, but they are also aware that they do not quite fit in.  Their experience is like the dilemma of trying to fit a round peg into a square hole where the system of higher education is designed is “square” and the women are “round” pegs.  The transformation that women often feel they make is costly because it forces competent students and professionals to sacrifice some of their innate creativity or style of work.  A conflict arises because there are many positive aspects of the University, but compromises are costly to women’s productivity and creativity.  Some women make attempts to change the system, but when the compromise is too extreme, some make the choice to leave.

Storyline Summary of Focus Groups for People of Color

The Task Force believed it was important to gather input from women and men of color to capture their unique perceptions of the concerns of women.  Nine focus groups conducted for women and men of color had a total of 46 participants.  All four classification groups were represented: faculty (1 group), administrative-professionals (1), state classified women (1), students (5) including one for undergraduate men of color, and a combined faculty/staff group for men of color (1).  This storyline highlights the issues and concerns mentioned most frequently in focus group discussions for women and men of color and includes numerous direct quotes.

Diverse Perspectives Are Ignored in Most CSU Courses

Most of the graduate and undergraduate students of color who participated in these focus group discussions felt that they rarely get exposure to women’s or other diverse perspectives in the courses they take at CSU.  One female graduate student stated, “Education materials represent the majority culture and are very ‘Angol-centric.’  It’s hard for those of us not in the majority to relate.”  Most of these students perceived a real lack of faculty education and preparation on cross-cultural and gender-related matters and felt that much more could be done to integrate and diversify course content on the CSU campus.  An undergraduate female observed, “the history course on ‘Women in America’ is only offered one semester per year.  Isn’t this everybody’s history?”  The “Gender Integration Project” was cited by some students as being very effective.  Several students expressed the cross-cultural and gender-related courses should be required, with the belief that every student would benefit from greater integration within the curriculum.

Insensitivity To Cultural Differences

The general insensitivity to cultural differences extends beyond the classroom and is experienced more broadly by people of color.  One undergraduate woman of color felt, “ethnic groups are only recognized on a special day or during an awareness week.  Otherwise, we seem pretty invisible.”  One state classified woman stated that some of her co-workers seem to perceive her as being a “foreigner,” even though she was born in the U.S.  Another woman was angered that no time can ever be taken off from work for religious reasons other than Christian holidays.  Another state classified employee stated, “there is no acceptance for outwardly showing pride for one’s culture.  Others feel like you are creating an uncomfortable atmosphere.”  A graduate student noted, “ethnic minorities need more options on this campus.  The bookstore carries no ethnic magazines, no make-up for women of color, and has no stylist in the hair shop.  We have to go to Denver for these things.”  Another female graduate student simply stated, “CSU is not welcoming for people of color.  There is a lack of community available to us here.”

Isolation of Women of Color

Given the limited sense of community for ethnically diverse individuals on campus, most people of color feel isolated from their “home” cultures.  One female faculty member stated, “there are no mechanisms to connect with other women, particularly other ethnic women within the department, and this leads to a sense of isolation.”  An administrative-professional female observed, “too many offices on campus have only one or two women of color, which leads us to feeling isolated.”  Another administrative professional noted, “we are not able to pursue what we want to in our careers because of the many demands placed on the few women of color hired at CSU.”  Students of color also feel a sense of isolation.  One African-American female commented, “some Black women are isolated because if we do not do things with Black students, we don’t do anything at all.  We often feel uninvited and undated.”  A female graduate student observed “there is a limited pool of people to date from your same ethnic community, if you’re a person of color at CSU.”  Another student commented, “interracial dating is a problem, and there is a double standard for women.  If men do it, it is OK.  If women do it, we are seen as traitors to the race.”

Individuality Is Not Appreciated

A number of the women of color mentioned that they experience white people on campus clumping all people of color into one vast, monolithic group, which leads to missing or ignoring the diverse experiences and qualities of people of color.  This mindset does not allow sufficient exposure to each cultural group or recognition of individual differences.  An administrative-professional female noted, “there often seems to be an assumption that one woman of color can represent all of us.”  An ethnic faculty member observed, “women of color are perceived as only knowing about ethnic issues, not as being capable in literature, math, etc.  These are stereotypes about what women are able to know and do.”  Undergraduate women of color experience this dynamic differently.  “My Hispanic studies course did not include coverage of my Puerto Rican heritage.”  “My intelligence is ignored,” remarks one African-American student.  “I get noticed in class for being a Black woman, not for having great grades or doing good work.”

Concerns For Women’s Physical and Emotional Safety

Women and men of color expressed strong concerns for women’s physical and emotional safety.  Women expressed fears of being out at night, criticized the poor lighting across many parts of the campus, conveyed a desire for more emergency phones across the campus, as well as expanded prevention programs.  One undergraduate female talked about being stalked by a male student.  Women of color expressed unique concerns for their emotional safety, given their experiences here at CSU.  Some students of color feel safer in their big city neighborhoods, “because there you know what’s going on; here at CSU no one tells you anything, so you don’t have any information, and can misread the cues.”  An undergraduate woman of color stated, “I feel safer as a woman off campus than in the residence halls where men are allowed to behave like children and act out in very inappropriate ways.”  Undergraduate men of color shared their impression that “the education women receive about safety leads them to feel fearful, and scare tactics are detrimental to women.”  Emotional safety concerns can also be experienced in the workplace.  An administrative-professional female shared her experiences of “white males accusing us of ‘taking’ jobs that are ‘given’ to women of color.”  This level of hostility can only engender fear and a sense of guardedness.

CSU Is a Very Male-Dominated Campus

Another common issue raised in the vast majority of all focus group discussions is that CSU is a very male-dominated campus.  From the perspective of women and men of color, there is a “white male model” of power and leadership in place on this campus where men are in charge and receive the vast majority of benefits and advantages.  An ethnic administrative-professional female observed, “at CSU there is a lot of talk about diversity, but not much action.  If ideas don’t fit the traditional white male model, they are not valued as highly as those that do.”  Another administrative professional female shared her belief, “this white male paradigm (your job is the highest priority in life) has little regard for dependent care, which is usually the responsibility of women.  Single parents living with children are most frequently women.”  Finally, an ethnic undergraduate male shared, “in the office where I work on campus, all the top level administrators are white men, and this is a big office on campus.  It is OK that there are white men in these positions, but others should get a chance too.”

Devaluing of Women and Women’s Issues

Very closely related to the previous issue is a widely shared experience of women, as well as the issues raised by women, being devalued.  Women of color have experienced this dynamic in a variety of ways and settings.  An ethnic administrative professional female states, “women are not taken seriously in group discussions.  We are placated and then the men go ahead and do what they want.”  An ethnic state classified woman lamented, “I sense that both my strengths and dislikes are easily dismissed by others.  At times I feel the need to insist to the point of unpleasantness.”  Some faculty/staff men of color have observed demeaning treatment of, and language toward women, both on and off campus.  “For some men, trying hard not to be ‘politically correct’ has led to a lot of disrespectful behavior toward women.”  Other undergraduate women noted, “we often get labeled by men for belonging to women’s groups (labels such as hard-core feminists or “femi-Nazis”) or we’re seen as being lesbians.”  Undergraduate men of color observed, “workshops or group discussions on gender issues in the residence halls are not effective.  The people who most need to participate in these discussions don’t attend.  It’s too easy to blow them off, not take these issues seriously, and this creates an uncomfortable living environment.”

A number of concerns raised in these discussions are rather specific to women of color, or at the very least are experienced in some ways by women of color.  Women of color often experience a “double dose” of oppression when sexism is combined with racism.  Many of the issues raised in these discussions may not even be fully acknowledged or recognized by Caucasian women, let alone by men, including individuals who see themselves as being “sensitive” to women’s issues.  It is hoped that these findings from the focus groups held for women and men of color can expand the thinking and awareness of what it means to fully and inclusively address the status of women at Colorado State University.

Storyline Summary for Men’s Focus Groups

The Task Force believed it was important to gather input from males at CSU to capture a sense of men’s perceptions of the concerns of women.  Nine focus groups conducted for men attracted a total of 46 participants.  All four classification groups were represented: faculty (2 groups), administrative-professionals (1), state classified men (2), students (3) including one for undergraduate men of color, and a combined faculty/staff group for men of color.  This storyline includes the issues and concerns mentioned most frequently in the men’s focus group discussion.

Concerns For Women’s Physical and Emotional Safety

There was widespread recognition of the concerns women have for their own physical and emotional safety.  Lighting in many parts of campus is quite poor at night and was mentioned by several men.  The threat of sexual assault, date rape, sexual harassment, and other forms of violence against women was acknowledged in several discussions.  “As the Fort Collins population increases,” one man noted, “violent crime is increasing as well,” acknowledging that the University is not immune from larger societal problems.  Some men acknowledged that they cannot imagine how it would be to feel unsafe, since fear is not a common emotion felt by most men.  A few men felt that men could benefit from learning more about women’s safety concerns.  A number of men acknowledged that a variety of resources exist on campus to enhance one’s personal safety and security (self-defense classes, security systems in the residence halls, campus security officers, escort services, etc.), and some questioned whether these resources are being adequately utilized by women.  There was an undertone seeming to blame women for this problem.  Statements from undergraduate males include, “it’s disturbing to see how many women walk alone at night,” and “when women first come to campus they are told they may not be safe here, and this becomes a problem for women by making them fell afraid, carry mace, and worry.”

CSU Is a Very Male-Dominated Campus

Within most of the men’s focus groups, another issue which was widely acknowledged is that CSU is a very male-dominated campus, perhaps due in part to our heritage as a land-grant university.  Several men shared their sense that an ‘old boys’ network clearly exists within the ranks of the administration and faculty, and men wield more power on this campus than do women.  Most academic departments and administrative units on campus are headed by men, including some units in which women clearly make up the majority of the employees or the students.  One state classified male employee stated, “men are generally in charge and they tend to hire and promote other men.  That’s a frame of reference of how it’s always been.  Men may not think another way is even possible.”  In the rare instances where a woman occupies a position of leadership, many men and women will question how or why she got the promotion or express real surprise if she manages to do well in the position.  A few men talked about some male-headed departments or units from which women have left in large numbers, indicating that these men were aware of the problems affiliated with certain departments.  Some senior male faculty members acknowledged how polarized the campus climate has become around gender issues, but also hinted that women taking a more militant stance on these issues will only generate resistance among men.  Another state classified male said, “because of the ‘old boys’ network, men will be slow to relinquish power and change will be slow and painful.”

Discrimination Against Women

Discrimination against women was raised in most of the men’s focus groups.  Some of the administrative-professional males shared that a few of their female colleagues had spoken with them personally about their experiences with discrimination.  One man stated, “sexism exists in many areas and some women have to work in environments that are hostile to them being in certain positions, no matter how qualified they are.”   A senior faculty member stated, “men and women are treated differently’ men get certain benefits women do not” (such as higher salaries, lower expectations to fulfill their advising responsibilities).  Male graduate students shared examples of professors using ways of rating their male and female students that give advantages to males, as well as situations where female students are exploited by their male advisors or supervisors.  State classified men identified several examples of this issue.  “Women often have the responsibility and ‘run the show,’ but have no chance to advance,” “The clerical support person often takes care of everything, but does not get credit (the idea of ‘the good woman behind every man’).  Women are often invisible although they do most of the work,” and “women’s power is implicit, not official, so women often do not get counted.”

Women Must Adjust To The Male System

Most of the men’s focus group acknowledged how women often have to change some of their ways in order to adjust to a more male-oriented environment.  Some male-dominated fields may require women to become more “gutsy.”  When women respond in ways that men perceive to be overly sensitive and emotional, it can cause resentment among colleagues and serve as a setback for women.  Women in positions of authority often believe they must assume a more domineering stance and adopt a male style of communication and leadership.  Some men noted the price that women pay if they do not adjust and fit in.  An ethnic male faculty member observed “there is a lack of appreciation for the ways women lead, learn, teach, and conduct research.  During evaluations women are penalized for not fitting ‘the male mold.’  They are not respected and not promoted.”  One senior faculty member noted, “newly hired women do not tend to integrate themselves into the department.  The more radical feminists seem especially afraid to become colleagues.  Women seek out the support of other women, and this pulls them away from the department.”  Another faculty member agreed, “Women always getting together (with other women) creates barriers for themselves.  They give the impression of separatism, of not being able to join or fit in, and this is negative for women in general.”

Some Improvements and Gains Have Been Made

Perhaps as a means of countering those more stark and disconcerting issues, a number of men voiced their perceptions that many improvements and gains have been made by and for women in recent years and cited a wide range of examples.  Some traditionally male-dominated fields have seen significant increases in the enrollment of women (i.e. Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine).  The pool of high qualified women with Ph.D.’s has increased in many fields.  New professional sororities and women’s organizations have come into being over the past 10 to 20 years.  More academic awards and scholarships are being targeted toward women.  One administrative-professional male state, “There is now more awareness of what constitutes harassment, so more people know when it happens.”  Another junior faculty member felt that the creation of the campus escort service was an asset for women.

Differences Between Men and Women

One of the most striking ways in which the men’s focus group discussion differed from the women’s was the emphasis that men seemed to place on fundamental differences between men and women.  Several of the men’s most frequently mentioned issues focused on these differences between the genders, such as differences in male/female communication styles, differences in physical size and strength, women being more emotional than men, and many men simply not understanding women.  A number of men mentioned how difficult it seems to be for men and women to communicate clearly and honestly with one another.  With so much polarization between the genders, many men find themselves reluctant to speak up in front of women for fear that their words will be misinterpreted, taken the wrong way, or found to be offensive.  A senior faculty member stated, “women overreacting when it is not warranted make men feel like we have to resist.”  One state classified male stated that several of his male colleagues chose not to participate in a focus group discussion on women’s issues for fear that they would be subjected to “male bashing.”  More than one man was disappointed that women were not present for the men’s focus group discussions.  Several men expressed the sentiment that it would be very useful to hold mixed-gender groups in order to discuss these issues in greater depth and work out ways for men and women to communicate more openly and effectively with one another.

Men and Women Perceive Reality Differently

A number of the comments reflect the ways in which men and women perceive reality differently, thus leaving many men with a sense that they do not understand women.  Women continue to identify and speak out on many issues, while many men simply assume that the mere presence of so many more women on campus compared to earlier decades must mean that things are OK for women.  One senior faculty member admitted, “men are not very sensitive at times and don’t see what is going on around them.  Thus, women’s needs and issues are often not recognized.”  Another more frustrated faculty member said, “it is very difficult for men to identify issues for women or to think like women, and we should not be expected to do so.”  Two undergraduate males expressed confusion over men’s admiration of women and the issue of sexual harassment, “if women are going to lay out in bikinis on sunny days, don’t they expect men to look at them?  What exactly is sexual harassment anyway?  Where do you draw the line?”  One state classified man lamented, “Neither men nor women know what the other feels, thinks, or needs.”  Another state classified male added, “Negative stereotypes of men are not helpful.  They distort reality and create fear.  Men and women are different.  Isn’t it possible to be different without lacking equality?”  All of these issues seem closely related to the communication difficulties cited above.

In conclusion, the forty-six male participants demonstrated a wide-ranging awareness of many issues and concerns facing women at CSU.  Men’s reactions to these issues, and their understanding of the underlying causes, varied greatly.  Few men in these focus groups seemed willing to assume much ownership or a sense of responsibility for the difficulties facing women, nor did there seem to be much motivation for any activism toward seriously addressing these issues.  While a small number of men appear to be real allies to women in their struggle for equality, there was very limited recognition of the phenomenon of male privilege, even though many of the men’s comments illustrated this phenomenon rather vividly.  Nevertheless, most of these men seemed to be supportive of efforts to improve the status of women at CSU, and a significant number were particularly interested in creating forums for men and women to interact more openly and honestly around these matters.  These men felt strongly enough about women’s concerns to verbalize their views more publicly.  Hopefully, these discussions can shed more light on the climate between men and women within the CSU campus community, and raise questions for further exploration in future efforts to examine gender-related issues.

Survey Methodology and Results

The final step in data collection was obtaining information through a survey.  The review of literature and focus group discussions identified issues and priorities of women on campus.  The survey was a means to determine the extent of concern by gaining input from a larger number of women.

The survey measured the level of satisfaction with the status of women at Colorado State and identified priorities.  The survey asked women to indicate their levels of satisfaction about issues at Colorado State.  The issues were presented in forty-five statements that were grouped into six categories.  In addition, respondents were asked to choose five statements from the survey that represented their “top five concerns” and to rank them in order of importance.  The survey also provided a section for open-ended comments about concerns and/or recommendations.  Drafts of the survey instrument were reviewed by consultants on campus, but the final format and content was the decision of the Task Force.  The survey was tested on a small population before the content was finalized.

Since the number of women in the campus groups varied greatly, the survey was distributed to the following:

All faculty women (including those on sabbatical leave who were residing locally)

All administrative professional women (on “Active” employment status)

All state classified women (on “Active” employment status)

All doctoral level and professional female graduate students

Twenty percent of master’s level women graduate students

Twenty percent of female undergraduate students in each college*

*(if the number was less than 200, all women in the college were surveyed)

The survey was mailed to campus addresses for employees and local addresses for students.  Articles appeared in the faculty newspaper, Comment, and the campus paper, The Rocky Mountain Collegian, encouraging responses.

Each survey form contained a tracking number on the bottom so follow-up surveys could be mailed to those who had not returned the forms.  A follow-up mailing was sent two to three weeks after the initial mailing.  Some respondents indicated that they were concerned with the confidentiality of the information and therefore chose not to respond.  Forty respondents removed the number from the form.  Their responses are included in any calculations involving all respondents.

The response rate was strong, with 43 percent total, and over 30 percent for every group.

Survey Participants

Survey data contain a wealth of information and were analyzed in a number of ways to gain a more complete picture of the areas of concern and priority for women on campus.  In the summary report on the following pages, frequencies are reported as percentages located to the left of each survey statement.  The percentages are shown for each level of satisfaction (1=Very satisfied to 5=Very dissatisfied, and 6=Does not apply.)  The mean score, located immediately to the left of the survey statement, indicates the level of satisfaction when those who responded “Does not apply” were not considered.  Gray bars through the text indicated the level of satisfaction for that statement.  Respondents were asked to rank their top five priorities based on the survey statements.  These are listed in the survey reports in order of frequency for the total number of times mentioned as well as the times mentioned as the top (number one) priority.

To identify the major concerns of women, the Task Force reviewed the list of top five priorities, items with the highest percentage of dissatisfaction, and the mean scores.  With this level of detail, all facets of concern could be analyzed.  For example, the availability of child care was not on the top ten list for most groups when looking at dissatisfaction.  Yet when reviewing mean scores, it was frequently one of the highest areas of dissatisfaction.  This suggest that child care is not an issue for everyone (52 percent indicated “Does not apply”), but those affected by it are very dissatisfied.  The listings of priorities provides insight into areas that women feel should receive immediate focus for change.

The following pages include data for each group (in alphabetical order):

All respondents

Administrative Professionals

Employees of Color


Graduate Students

State Classified Personnel

Students of Color

Undergraduate Students

Appendix E contains additional information for students by college as well as a list of the top ten items of satisfaction.  A copy of the actual survey with the cover letter from Dr. Yates is also included.

The 2,252 responses to the survey have provided a wealth of information about the diverse experiences of women on the Colorado Sate University campus.  This large number of surveys provides opportunity for a variety of opinions and the data can be reviewed in a number of ways to facilitate interpretation.

For example, the first statement under the Work Environment section: “level of recognition and respect for women’s competence” shows that 39% of the respondents were satisfied with the respect and recognition they receive, yet 35% were not satisfied.  This may indicate that some areas of the university are doing well in recognizing the contributions of women, but others need improvement.

Child care is an issue of very low satisfaction (5%).  It’s level of dissatisfaction is only 29% because so many people responded that this was not their concern (52%=Do’t Know/Does Not Apply).  Based on mean scores it received the second highest mean, which indicates that for those concerned with this issue, their level of dissatisfaction is high.

All Respondents Survey Results

Comments and Recommendation

Many respondents made a wide range of comments and recommendations on a variety of issues.  Concerns are listed by general categories in order of frequency.


  • Concerns related to the climate for women received a total of 290 comments including:
    • the recognition of women/not being take seriously
    • hierarchy favors men/rules made by men/network hard to change
    • trust/fear of retaliation issues
    • administrators not accountable/attitudes
    • lack of encouragement or support
    • inappropriate behavior from people in power
    • women are negatively judgmental of each other
    • classroom, students concerned about faculty
    • textbooks stereotype women/use of language
    • grievance procedures
  • General items were mentioned:
    • the PDQ process
    • concerns about affirmative action
  • Safety issues included lighting, parking disability access
  • Positive comments indicated women were glad for the opportunities provided by this survey
  • Concerns about the number of women focused on the lack of women in the science and other nontraditional fields
    • other nontraditional fields
  • Equity concerns covered:
    • salary equity
    • resources
    • job duties
  • Balancing work and family and school included the need for child care
  • Some women felt:
    • an oversensitivity toward women’s issues
    • sexual discrimination is exaggerated acceptance of homosexuality is being forced upon us


  • Further education through a variety of methods:
    • workshop on sensitivity training, communication skills, assertiveness training
    • training for supervisors
    • sexual harassment support groups
    • newsletters about issues, women’s programs, opportunities, etc.
  • Job related recommendations included:
    • more flextime opportunities
    • being able to evaluate supervisors
    • changes in hiring practices
  • There were also recommendations on increasing the number of women:
    • recruit more minority and female faculty
    • more opportunities for advancement
    • more mentors
  • Safety suggestions related to lighting, education, emergency phones
  • Some recommendations addressed the need to improve the climate
    • increased team building
    • boosting morale with recognition
    • spotlighting success

Nearly 50% (244) of the administrative professional women returned the survey.

When reviewing mean scores for satisfaction levels child care is the area of least satisfaction.  This issue does not make the list of top ten areas of dissatisfaction (shown below) because 46% of the administrative professionals feel this issue does not apply to them.  But it seems apparent, that for those employees who need child care, it is a great concern.

In overall priorities the difficulty in balancing family was very close to concerns about the fairness in setting salaries.  Concerns with the “number of women” were also high on the list of priorities.  As mentioned previously in this report, the small number of women available to act as role models, mentors and serve on committees increase the burden on those women and makes “balancing family….” even more difficult.

Administrative Professional Employee Survey Results

Comments and Recommendations

Above 30% of the respondents added comments or recommendations.  They covered a broad range of topics and are listed below in order of frequency.


  • The area of concern receiving the most comments related to the climate for women.  Items mentioned included:
    • not being recognized
    • the attitudes of administrators, “people in power”
    • the network (rules made by men) is hard to change
  • There were many positive comments – glad this survey was being done, etc.
  • Concerns about the number of women included comments:
    • few women must cover many duties
    • their workload is great which leads to burnout and attrition
  • General comments include the need for more tolerance and less focus on differences
  • Equity concerns were also mentioned
  • Balancing work and family and school included the need for flextime and child care
  • A few women felt there are concerns with the hiring process including unfair treatment of men
  • Safety issues were not a major focus for administrative professionals.


  • Job-related recommendations included:
    • more flextime opportunities
    • changes in hiring practices
  • Increasing the number of women by:
    • increasing diversity
    • more opportunities for advancement
  • Child care opportunities
  • Workshop and training sessions with an emphasis on accountability
  • Improve the climate with:
    • increased team building
    • boosting morale with recognition
    • spotlighting success

Employees of Color who responded to the survey total 116.  They include faculty, administrative professional and state classified employees.  Since the number in some of these categories are small and confidentiality has been assured, these responses are being reported as a group.

Although the issues are generally the same as for all employees, the level of dissatisfaction based on mean scores and percent dissatisfied seems higher.  Child care appears to be a stronger need among this population which would be a reason for the dissatisfaction with the level of sensitivity toward balancing family, work and school.

Over 50% indicated dissatisfaction with the level of comfort to express concerns without fear of retaliation.  This is higher than for any other group studied.  Looking at the items mentioned as a whole it appears women of color sense a general lack of support based on low numbers of women in positions of authority or those who can serve as role models and mentors.  This would set the stage for concerns about fairness in setting salaries and opportunities for advancement as well as the other items already mentioned.

Employees of Color Survey Results

Comments and Recommendations:

About 25% of the employees of color added comments or recommendations.  These are listed below in general categories by frequency.


  • The climate for women included comments on:
    • lack of encouragement
    • availability of pornography on the Internet
    • supervisors not qualified
  • Feelings that racism and sexism have increased
  • Positive comments about the need for such a survey
  • Concerns about safety on campus
  • Concerns about equality included:
    • facilities
    • job duties
    • lack of resources for women’s programs


  • Ways to improve conditions at work include:
    • flextime opportunities
    • being able to evaluate supervisors
    • paid maternity leave
    • hiring on merit
  • Recruiting more women of color especially faculty
  • Offer more workshops and training opportunities

Nearly 60% (237) of the faculty women returned the survey.

On the whole it seemed that faculty were the most dissatisfied group.  Over 50% were dissatisfied on seven statements.  The next highest group, administrative professionals had over 50% dissatisfied on only four statements.

The number of women to serve as role models and in positions of authority were areas of high dissatisfaction along with the hiring of women as temporary employees.  The low number of women increases the workload for all and therefore makes “the level of sensitivity to balancing family….” a concern as time becomes a premium.

These areas of concern were validated once again in the list of priority statements on the survey page.

For those faculty concerned with child care (46% indicated it did not apply) it is an area of much dissatisfaction.  The mean was 4.01 – second highest.

Faculty Survey Results

Comments and Recommendations:

About 45% of the respondents added comments or recommendations.  Their broad range of topics have been grouped into general topics and are listed below in order of frequency.


  • Concerns about climate for women included:
    • the attitude of students toward faculty
    • lack of encouragement of support
    • not being taken seriously
    • the attitudes of administrators, no accountability
  • Equity concerns covered the assignment of job duties as well as salary issues
  • Comments about the number of women included:
    • lack of women in sciences
    • overload causes attrition
  • Balancing work, family and school issues included child care concerns
  • There were many positive comments
  • General comments included the need for more tolerance and less focus on differences
  • Safety issues were not a major focus for faculty


Recommendations centered mostly around the low number of women and climate on campus.

  • There were recommendations for increasing the number of women which included:
    • assistance in hiring spouses
    • promoting from within
    • addressing the glass ceiling
  • Suggestions on improving treatment of women focused on:
    • encouraging women into graduate school
    • emphasizing respectful behavior
    • focusing on strengths – research or teaching
  • Some recommendations addressed the need to improve the climate with:
    • workshops on communication
    • assertiveness training
  • Job related recommendations included:
    • efforts to decrease teaching load to free up time for research
    • expand course evaluation
    • expand employee evaluations, make them more fair

Response rate was about the same for Master’s degree candidates (44%) as for doctoral candidate (43%).  The pool of doctoral students included all women pursuing DVM degrees.

The greatest focus for graduate students seems to be the lack of role models and mentors.  This was listed as the number one priority and had the highest percentage of dissatisfaction.  Safety on campus was also a concern as many of these students are on campus in the evenings.  Balancing work and school and family was a greater issue for graduate students than undergraduates since more of the graduate students are nontraditional with families.  Some are single parents, others are working several jobs to make ends meet.  Child care was the second highest mean for these students with only four percent indicating satisfaction with the present availability of child care.

It is interesting to note that the means and percent dissatisfied for graduate students are between those of faculty and undergraduates.  Their feelings are not as negative as faculty, but not as positive as undergraduates.  This would tend to verify the nonsupportive atmosphere of higher education for women – the longer one is within the system, the more disillusioned one becomes.

Graduate Student Survey Results

Comments and Recommendations:

Almost 30% of the graduate students added comments and recommendations.  The general categories are listed below in order of frequency.


  • The most frequent comments on the climate for women included:
    • inappropriate behavior by people in power some times referring to inaction to complaints
    • sexual harassment problems including grievance procedure concerns
    • stereotyping in textbooks and negative language
    • administrators not accountable
  • Safety concerns including lighting and building security as well as parking
  • Issues with numbers of women focused on the lack of women in the sciences and nontraditional areas
  • General comments were made about the lack of caring people have for each other
  • Balancing life and family comments centered around the need for child care
  • There were comments about oversensitivity toward women’s issues as well as general positive statements


  • Suggestions for workshops included:
    • increasing awareness on communication issues, sensitivity, assertiveness
    • more information about activities, programs available
    • more focus on the departmental level
  • The climate for women in graduate school could be improved by:
    • encouraging graduate study in nontraditional areas by offering more assistantships
    • promoting respectful behavior
    • spotlighting success and achievements of women
  • Job related improvements centered on:
    • more flexible scheduling of classes and meeting times
    • paid maternity leave for graduate assistants

A total of 658 surveys were received from state classified employees.  This represented a 43% return rate.  The responses to the survey reinforced the concerns of state classified expressed in the focus groups.  The areas of greatest dissatisfaction involved work related issues such as fairness in setting salaries and opportunities for advancement.

An area that seemed to be of slightly greater concern to state classified employees than other groups on campus is the issue of “comfort to express opinions without the fear of retaliation”.  As mentioned in the focus groups, this retaliation can be in the form of “being labeled a troublemaker”.  Additional comments on one survey told of being ostracized and receiving negative input from fellow workers six years after reporting a problem in the office.

For state classified employees the child care issue was very important.  It made it into the top ten list of dissatisfaction and also had the highest mean score.  This relates directly to the concern for “greatest sensitivity for the difficulty in balancing family, work, and school commitments” which was mentioned as a priority by 31% of the respondents.

Although there were many negative comments in the focus groups concerning supervisors, the question on the survey concerning relationship with supervisor showed a high level of satisfaction.  This may be because the survey question focused on “relationship” with current supervisors.  Individuals with great concern may have now found other jobs, so their current situation is acceptable.  It is also possible that staff feel they have a good relationship with their supervisor even though that person may not be highly qualified for their position.

State Classified Employee Survey Results

Comments and Recommendations:

Over 20% of the state classified respondents included comments and/or recommendations.  They are presented below grouped in some general categories listed in order of frequency.


  • Many of the comments centered on the climate for women.  They included such items as:
    • Trust concerns – confidentiality and retaliation
    • Men make the rules, hierarchy favors men, hard to change the network
    • Problems with the grievance procedures
    • Accountability of administrators and supervisors
    • General lack of support or encouragement for women
  • The general area, comments not specifically related to gender concerns included:
    • Dislike of the PDQ process
    • Feelings that racism and sexism are increasing
  • Equity issues focused on the advancement opportunities
  • Some felt that women’s issues were being over emphasized
  • Positive comments were received about as often as safety concerns
  • The balancing life category focused on child care and flextime opportunities


  • The major recommendations included job related suggestions such as:
    • employees should be able to evaluate their supervisors
    • hiring should be determined on merit
    • there should be more opportunities for flextime
    • supervisors should be tested to evaluate competence
  • Many suggestions for various workshops included topics such as:
    • information about policies
    • fair administration reaching to departmental levels
    • accountability
  • Suggestions about increasing the number of women focused on:
    • improving the opportunities for advancement
    • more employee assistance
  • Climate for women could be improved by:
    • boosting morale with more awards or recognitions
    • increasing team building philosophy
    • emphasizing respect
    • women speaking out and taking action
  • Safety concerns were also mentioned usually suggesting
    • improved lighting
    • office security for people who work late or on weekends

Students of Color who returned the survey represent all colleges as well as masters and doctoral levels.  Since the number in some of the areas are very small and confidentiality has been assured, all students of color, graduate and undergraduate are being considered together in this section of the report.

Although some of the issues are the same as for the total student respondents, the level of dissatisfaction is greater even considering the large number of respondents of color where undergraduate students who tend to be the most satisfied.

The level of acceptance and inclusion of non-majority women is a concern as indicated in the level of dissatisfaction, the mean score and its listing as a top priority.  Fairness in setting salaries, etc. and the number of faculty to serve as role models and mentors were also top priorities.

Students of Color Survey Results

Comments and Recommendations:

Over one third of the students of color added comments and recommendations.  They are listed in general categories in order of frequency.


  • Climate for women was the area of most comments:
    • harassment, problems with the grievance procedures
    • concerns with certain faculty
    • unfriendliness
    • trust/retaliation concerns
  • General issues were mentioned often:
    • increase in racism and sexism
    • lack of understanding about affirmative action
    • other non-gender concerns
  • Safety concerns were listed
  • Equity concerns centered on the lack of money, resources for women’s programs
  • Concerns with the number of women cited:
    • higher ratio of men
    • lack of women in sciences
    • heavy load causes attrition


  • Suggestions for workshops highlighting awareness, communication more information about activities, programs available for women
  • The climate could be improved by spotlighting success:
    • boosting morale by awards and recognitions
    • encouraging respectful behavior
  • Numbers of women of color need to be increased:
    • recruit more faculty
    • recruit more students
  • Safety concerns

The overall undergraduate response rate was 37%.  A total of 723 surveys were returned.  The College of Engineering had the highest return rate with 46% and the College of Liberal Arts the lowest with 32%.

For the most part undergraduates from each college had similar responses.  One notable difference is that the undergraduates from the colleges of Applied Human Sciences and Business did not list “the number of women faculty to serve as role models” as one of their top five priorities.  It was listed by undergraduates from all the other colleges.

It seems undergraduates are relatively satisfied.  Their number one priority by far is safety on campus.

The factors they are most dissatisfied with are the hiring of women as temporaries and fairness in setting salaries.  Although these may seem odd items for undergraduates to be concerned about, they do impact students since both these factors can cause attrition of women faculty which relates to the students’ second highest area of concern – the number of women to serve as role models and mentors.  They may also be thinking about their own futures in the workplace and a temporary part-time job may not seem too appealing.

Undergraduate Student Survey Results

Comments and Recommendations:

Almost 30% of the undergraduates added comments or recommendations to their survey.  The main categories are listed below in order of frequency.


  • The climate for women included:
    • dissatisfaction with faculty
    • harassment, grievance procedure concerns
    • advising concerns
    • not being taken seriously in class
    • not being recognized
    • stereotyping of women in textbooks, negative language
  • Safety concerns
    • lighting in parking lots, especially on south end of campus
    • access to emergency phones after night classes
  • There were many positive comments as well as those of a general nature such as issues about class requirements
  • Concerns about the number of women included:
  • lack of women in sciences
  • the higher ratio of men in some classes
  • Some students indicated they felt an oversensitivity toward women’s issues that “assumed the worst”
  • The lack of sensitivity to balancing life, work and school did not generate as many comments from undergraduates as for other groups on campus
  • Understandably comments about equity in hiring, salary, etc. were also few


  • Suggestions for workshops included:
    • sensitivity training to increase awareness to include harassment issues
    • assertiveness training and others focusing on communication skills
    • educational opportunities should also be a departmental level not just university wide
  • Safety ideas included:
    • more lighting
    • emergency phones
    • parking closer in for evening classes
  • Suggestions for increasing the number of women focused mainly on increasing women faculty
  • Miscellaneous recommendations focused on advising concerns
  • Improving the climate ideas mentioned spotlighting success and achievements of women
  • Issues concerning inequality for women focused on the need for more scholarships for women

Data for Colorado State University Peer Institutions

Existing Programs

The Task Force Surveyed nine institutions about how they were addressing women’s issues on campus.  The following table indicates that most of the peer institutions that we were able to contact have child care programs, all except UC-Davis have institutional bodies comparable to the proposed Commission on Women and Gender Equity, and only two institutions have comprehensive gender plans.  (For complete data, see Appendix F.)

Peer Institutions

CSU and Peer Institutions

Additional data from the Fact Book published by OBIA and from peer institutions are included in Appendix F.

Administrative-Professional Women

Administrative professionals include 1102 people, most of whom have at least a bachelor’s degree.  This group includes 459 women and 643 men.  These positions include administrators; coaches and their assistants; directors and their assistants; managers and their assistants; assistants to the deans; coordinator; counselors; extension directors, agents and specialists; foresters; physicians and psychologists; research associates; research and senior research scientists; and other job titles.

Faculty Women

Women comprise a small portion of the faculty at Colorado State University.  There are a total of 1,001 faculty with regular appointments, 376 temporary appointments and 151 special appointments.  In 1995, women comprised 20 percent of the tenure track faculty, with 8.3 percent of full professors, 20.3 percent of associate professors, and 45.8 percent of assistant professors being women.  Colorado State University ranked tenth of seventeen peer institutions in the number of tenure track women in 1994-1995.

Colorado State is well below the national average number of faculty women.  National data indicate that 31 percent of faculty were women in 1993-1994 and 47 percent of those earning doctorates were women (West, 1995).  As of 1996, about 20-56 academic departments at Colorado State have a single woman faculty member or no women at all.  The consequences of isolation and heavy advising responsibilities are addressed in other sections of this report.

Nationally, women comprise 59 percent of full-time instructors and 56.5 percent of full-time lecturers.  Of the 376 temporary faculty appointments at Colorado State in 1994, approximately half were women.  The practice of hiring women into lower status jobs with less security and fewer benefits has been common, particularly in the liberal arts, where temporary personnel teach a large proportion of the required introductory courses.  Such treatment cheapens the value of graduate degrees earned by temporary faculty.  Women mentioned that new job descriptions frequently are targeted to areas that cannot be filled by devoted, long-term temporary personnel.  Women in focus groups believe that the university assumes that male partners with help support these women in temporary positions.  Temporary faculty are frequently excluded from committees and from contributing to the decision-making process.  Others are expected to give service in recruiting and advising.  Salaries for temporary faculty are low, below that of teaching assistants in many cases.

AAUP. 1995. The Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession 1994-1995. Academe, March-April 1995: 8-89.

West, M.S. 1995. Women Faculty: Frozen in Time. Academe July-August: 26-29.

Graduate Student Women

A total of 1,238 graduate students attended Colorado State in 1994-1995.  Of these, women constitute 63 percent of graduate students in applied human sciences but only twenty percent in engineering.  Nationally, 47 percent of those graduating with doctoral degrees are women.  We were unable to evaluate data on the percentage of graduate student women who receive graduate assistantships or to compare teaching assistantships with research assistantships for men and women.  Our major professional program, Veterinary Medicine, now has 63 percent women and students.

State Classified Women

State classified personnel include 2,068 people, most of whom are women.  Women in state classified positions include administrative assistants; accounting personnel; office managers; police; program assistants; veterinary specialists; and many other classifications.  Almost 60% of the state classified women are at a pay grade of less than 70.  This constitutes only 40% of the male state classified personnel.

Undergraduate Student Women

Undergraduate women comprise 49 percent of the student body.  Most undergraduate women major in applied human sciences or liberal arts, but comprise fewer than 40 percent in Business, Natural Resources, and Engineering.

Additional Data

Women at Colorado State 1995