SSHE Commitment to Women
The State System of Higher Education recognizes the significant contribution made by women at all levels to the University culture. It also recognizes the responsibility to address specific needs of this segment of the University population, to address inequities in the treatment of students and faculty due to gender, and to encourage and support new and emerging roles for women.
Within the aforementioned context, it is recommended that University affirmative action plans reflect a commitment to meeting the educational needs of women students and a commitment to assuring upward mobility in areas of University leadership and employment.
The emphasis on addressing the status of women within the State System is consistent with prevailing thoughts on the status of women nationwide. Such thought, as stated in The New Agenda of Women in Higher Education - A Report of the American Council of Education (ACE) Commission on Women in Higher Education, establishes three primary reasons why colleges and universities should become "responsive to the values, ideas, hopes, dreams, and visions of women." They are:
- Our global society is facing problems of potentially catastrophic proportions. We need the best and brightest minds to attend to these problems. Women constitute half of the human resources available. They have the potential of providing at least half the answers.
- Higher education has a special responsibility to be a progressive, enlightening social force. This is our heritage, and this is our role. We should be a model for others to emulate. How can we expect society to do what we cannot do for ourselves?
- Theory, knowledge, and practice have been developed by and about women to help us rethink our institutional priorities, plans, and programs, and reshape the process. It is intellectually irresponsible not to use this new body of knowledge and grasp its implications for all our institutions.
It is recommended that the State System of Higher Education adopt the following guidelines developed by the ACE Commission on Women in Higher Education as standards against which to develop policy and procedures. It is further recommended that these guidelines be used as a checklist for assessing the current status of women. The commission recommends that institutional leadership:
- Demonstrate a strong commitment to understanding and addressing the concerns of women students, faculty, staff, and administrators.
- Identify and correct inequities that may exist in hiring, promotion, tenure, and salary of women faculty, administrators, and staff.
- Provide a supportive campus climate for women in the classroom and in employment settings.
- Establish or reaffirm an institutional commitment to women's studies.
- Review university policies for their effect on majority women and minority women.
- Support a university planning process that addresses at each stage the question of impact on minority and majority women.
- Review/develop and implement effective policies to address the problem of sexual harassment.
- Prepare an annual status report for the total university community.
- Initiate a campus values inventory intended to examine value issues which continue to prevent the inclusion of women in certain areas of university life.
- Develop policies, procedures, and programs that support children and families in the broadest sense.
- Promote activities which demonstrate the value of diversity to the campus life.
- Make leadership development and commitment to fostering women's leadership joint priorities.
- Establish or reaffirm the commitment to a Commission on Women.
- Appoint a high-level person whose formal responsibilities include advocacy for women on campus.
- Provide leadership in fostering an environment which encourages the discussion of and attention to sex equity issues.
While no single University may find it feasible to address all areas of concern articulated in the Commission's report, it is expected that over the five years of the Plan, all universities will establish priorities and time frames to address those areas which most need attention on individual campuses.
To facilitate the timely accomplishment of measures intended to improve the status of women, it is recommended that each President consider the establishment of a commission on the status of women as an initial priority.
Further, each University and the Office of the Chancellor is required to develop and implement a sexual harassment policy. The policy and implementation procedures shall be included in University and central administration affirmative action plans.