While the proportion of female leadership at Ohio State has increased over the years, the university’s top ranks are still predominantly male with no consistent increase in gender equality across positions.
Each year the Women’s Place, a women’s policy office that, according to its website, “serves as a catalyst for institutional change to expand opportunities for women’s growth, leadership and power,” releases a report on the status of women to show the progress in OSU’s gender equity.
The 2013 report found that while women in faculty positions has increased since 1999, the percentage of women in other leadership position has decreased, but some OSU employees said the university is on the right track to becoming more equal overall.
According to the 2013 study, “the proportion of women in all faculty ranks has increased continuously since 1999.” The study shows, however, that there is a low representation of women of color in faculty positions at OSU.
There are also other positions, such as senior administrative leadership positions, at OSU where women are poorly represented, compared to senior professional staff positions. According to the report, these senior administrative leadership positions include president, Board of Trustees, vice presidents and senior vice presidents.
Hazel Morrow-Jones, associate provost for Women’s Policy Initiatives and director of the Women’s Place, said one of the goals of the Women’s Place is to increase the representation of all women so the numbers will eventually reflect the larger society.
The Women’s Place has other goals it’s hoping to achieve as well.
“We want to increase diversity in order to increase our levels of innovation and to provide a diverse learning environment that will prepare students for the lives they will lead in the 21st century,” Morrow-Jones said.
Debra Moddelmog, a professor of English and coordinator of the sexuality studies program at OSU, said more diversity can bring a variety of positive results.
“A more diverse professoriate has many benefits, not the least of which is that it brings more diverse perspectives and new energy to the university. It also helps to attract a more diverse student body, which better represents, not only the current demographics of our country, but also our future demographics and creates a more exciting research and learning environment,” Moddelmog said.
Morrow-Jones said the Women’s Place works with partners, such as the OSU Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the OSU Office of Research’s Gender Initiatives in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine), the OSU Office of Human Resources, the Columbus Partnership, which is an organization off of OSU campus that aims to improve the economy of the Columbus area, and the OSU Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity.
Morrow-Jones said she hopes through all these efforts that diversity will increase.
Steven Scheramic, a second-year in engineering, is pleased with the progress being made but said, however, there is still more for OSU to achieve.
“I’m glad that the report shows there are some positions growing in representation of women and diversity. I feel that the more diverse OSU becomes, there will be more diverse opportunities for students as well,” Scheramic said.
Scheramic added that he would expect the percentage of women in any department to be close to 50 percent.
“OSU should strive to reach that goal,” Scheramic said.
The numbers of women in some positions at OSU are rising, Morrow-Jones said. For example, in 2012, the faculty was 35 percent female, compared to 27 percent in 1999, according to the report.
“It is particularly noteworthy that 45 percent of assistant professors were female in 2012, so we are getting close to parity in the younger faculty,” Morrow-Jones said. “The ranks of associate and full professors have also seen significant increases in the proportion of women, though they have not reached the level of the assistant professors yet.”