Story by Alicia Steele, Staff writer
More than 30 female professors met Tuesday, which was International Women’s Day, for the first Women’s Faculty Caucus advocacy group meeting to network and discuss possible projects for the group to take on.
The project ideas include:
- studying whether male professors are paid more than female professors with similar experience and qualifications;
- forming a task force to study gender bias in student evaluations;
- developing a faculty mentoring program for new faculty;
- creating a new policy for family leave
- and looking into improving the spousal hiring process.
“Thank you for holding the meeting,” Renee Campoy, professor in the College of Education and Human Services, told organizers at the end of the meeting. “It’s badly needed.”
SALARY EQUITY STUDY
Maeve McCarthy, professor of mathematics, said the group is beginning to collect data about professors’ salaries and experience levels by gender.
She said the data won’t be sorted according to department. But they could tell if there are trends of pay inequity within certain colleges.
“They’re separating it out by gender, by rank, by years or service and by college,” McCarthy said.
She said the group should have data for the faculty salary study by the end of March.
GENDER BIAS IN STUDENT EVALUATIONS
Urmi Engineer, assistant professor of history, said the group will work on the issue of gender disparities in student evaluations, which can affect professor’s tenure.
She referred to a 2014 study by professors at North Carolina State University that showed that students gave better evaluations to professors who they thought were men than those they thought were women.
“I think in person that gender bias it probably even stronger,” Engineer said. “So it would be interesting to see if we can get some statistics about gender disparities here at Murray State.”
Engineer said the current guidelines regarding how evaluations affect tenure are 25 years old. She said in the 1980s and 1990s, they claimed that gender, age, race and ethnic origin is not a source of bias in student evaluations and that is the policy at Murray State.
“So we hope that we can do some research and see if we can change that official policy and account for gender bias in our evaluations,” Engineer said.
FACULTY MENTORING PROGRAM
Alexandra Hendley, assistant professor of sociology, said they are interested in looking into structuring a formal faculty mentoring program for new faculty.
“This is especially important for women in departments and colleges that are primarily male-dominated fields, but really something that I think would be beneficial for all new faculty,” Hendley said.
FORMAL FAMILY LEAVE POLICY
Hendley said they also are interested in looking at how taking time off for family issues works towards tenure.
“There are some policies here at the university with regards to those things, but not all of them are easily available to find, even online,” Hendley said. “So we want to hear from you and hear what sort of policy, if any policy, would be preferable for you.”
Mary-Tripp Reed, lecturer of Economics and Finance, said women’s caucus participants can be involved in one or all of these things.
“My grandparents met here in the ‘30s, so I really care about this place, and I would like it to be better,” Reed said. “It’s a great place to work, but I would like it to be better.”