Faculty and staff at the UCLA Anderson School of Management will vote to implement revisions to the faculty promotion process in the next few weeks, in an attempt to remedy gender inequality.
The revisions, which will include tenure and evaluation processes for professors at the School of Management, are expected to be implemented in fall 2017.
In July, the School of Management released a report by Korn Ferry, a consulting agency, that found the school fostered unconscious biases against female faculty members. The report also found it perceived that it was more difficult for women to earn promotions, tenure and equal compensation than it was for male faculty members.
Brett Trueman, a professor appointed to be the school’s faculty diversity adviser after the report was released, said the revisions will aim to make the promotion and tenure process more transparent, and prioritize job performance over personal qualities. He added applicants for promotion or tenure will be informed about the criteria for upgrading their position.
Judy Olian, dean of the Anderson School of Management, added the school’s officials have interviewed and hired more female faculty than they did before the report was released, in an attempt to promote gender equality. About 50 percent of the faculty members hired in 2015 were women.
Olian added many female faculty members have been promoted to full professors or to senior positions, including head of programs and one department. She added five out of nine members of senior management teams are women.
Olian also organized online discussion forums, small-group discussions and a faculty retreat in the past year to attempt to promote gender equality in the school by encouraging faculty members to voice their concerns.
Corinne Bendersky, associate professor of management and organizations at the school, said she thinks the small-group discussions and retreats have helped heighten awareness about how gender inequality manifests.
Trueman said the first retreat took place in March, and the next is scheduled for late summer.
Bendersky said taking on “service loads,” or duties expected outside of teaching responsibilities, is one of the most persistent issues that continue to contribute to gender inequality at the school. Service assignments include participating in panels, extracurricular activities and club events.
All faculty members are expected to take on service assignments, but Bendersky said she thinks women are overburdened with requests while men are asked to participate in service duties less frequently. She added that she thinks women feel less comfortable turning down service assignments than men.
Trueman said he spoke with many male faculty members, who he said may not have been aware of their gender biases. He added he thinks the gender bias problem can only be overcome when faculty members of both genders understand the consequences of their implicit biases, because they can then make conscious efforts to address them.
“I am pleasantly surprised we’re making as much progress as we are,” Trueman said. “But it’s not to say that everything is fine – you can’t change people’s perceptions and behaviors overnight or even over one year.”
Bendersky said she thinks the process of reaching full gender equality may not be readily amendable because biases are deeply rooted and often unconscious.
“There are still some members of the community who don’t perceive it as a problem and the sincerity with which all the faculty members embrace it is still a question,” she said. “But many more people are now aware of the problem.”
Bendersky added she thinks differing perceptions of what’s considered gendered and what isn’t is one of the biggest problems faculty members must overcome.
“Most members of the school are wrestling with the challenge that different people perceive the social and professional environment differently,” she said. “Women (may) think something is gendered but men (may not) think it is.”
Faculty and staff in the School of Management will vote whether to implement the revisions over the next few weeks.