October 6, 2003

Glass ceiling still needs breaking

Submitted on behalf of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women by: Susan Gilbert, Goizueta Business School, and Amita Manitunga and Kimberly Jacob Arriola, Rollins School of Public Health

In two articles that appeared in the April 14, 2003, Emory Report (“Glass ceiling is lifted” and “EOP plan shows gains by women”), we are given the distinct impression that gains in female representation in management positions across the University and on the tenure-track faculty have surpassed the goals set by the administration.

While we at the President’s Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) agree with [the articles’ authors or primary sources] Alice Miller, vice president of Human Resources, and Robert Etheridge, vice president for Equal Opportunity Programs, when they say that Emory has much to be proud of in terms of the advancement of women both in administration and on the faculty, we don’t believe that these data are conclusive with regard to the existence (or nonexistence) of a glass ceiling.

In addition to the statistics presented in those articles, the PCSW has conducted its own analyses of female promotion patterns and gender equity both for the tenure-track faculty and in senior administrative leadership within the University.

The 2002 report on gender equity (which appears on our website at www.emory.edu/PCSW) confirms what we learned in 1997: When administrative and leadership positions, rank and department are taken into account, there is no evidence that women are underpaid relative to their male peers. Also, in terms of recruiting female staff into leadership positions, a 2003 PCSW report provides support that Emory is a leader in promotion of women to management ranks; the school has seen the largest growth (37 percent over the last decade) of female employees in managerial, professional and administrative positions of any school in the (2002 Business Week) Top 20 ranked universities.

However, when we look at Emory’s relative position in terms of women in senior leadership positions (which is what is typically meant by the term “glass ceiling”), we see a very different picture.

• In terms of deans of the University’s schools, two of nine (22 percent) are female, which places us in the bottom third of peer schools for which we could get data.

• When comparing President’s Cabinet-level positions (using data on published websites of our peer institutions) we rank in the bottom third in terms of percentage of women in these senior management positions.

• While there are several universities that do not report such information publicly, only two institutions in the top 18 had a lower percentage of women on their boards of trustees.

While these data comparing Emory to peer institutions are clearly disappointing, there is certainly a mood of optimism that the gains made in the last six years will continue and hope that there is a continuing commitment to equal opportunity.

With our thanks to President [Bill] Chace for supporting the work of the PCSW, we now look to President [Jim] Wagner for his vision of the future. We hope that the make up of his cabinet and his board will be more representative of the population of students here at Emory.