The Task Force on Gender Equity, charged with assessing institutional practices to promote gender equity among full-time faculty and senior academic leadership, shared its recommendations in a new report.
Faculty and senior administrators from across Georgetown’s campuses and from a variety of disciplines, perspectives and roles comprised the task force, which examined hiring and retention, compensation, work-life balance, climate and culture and other key issue areas.
The university will take several immediate steps guided by the findings, including the formation of a standing Gender Equity Committee and a five-year funding plan for the Gender+ Justice Initiative (G+JI) to elevate and support intersectional gender justice research.
“The work ahead is to ensure that our commitment to equity – across gender, race, ethnicity, disability, religion, sexual orientation, age, and the range of identities that shape the lives of those in our community – is alive in our institutional practices and our campus culture,” says Georgetown President John J. DeGioia in a statement affirming the university’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Blueprint for Action
The Task Force on Gender Equity’s recommendations provide a blueprint for immediate, short-term and long-term action. The full report is available on the Task Force on Gender Equity web page.
“Breaking barriers to innovation and producing knowledge requires cultivating an equitable environment in which all members of our community may produce their best work,” says Soyica Colbert, chair of the task force, interim dean of Georgetown College and Idol Family Professor of African American Studies and Theater and Performance Studies. “The task force’s report reflects important next steps that the University must take to achieve this essential work.”
To help meet the task force’s recommendation for ongoing funding to support intersectional gender justice scholarship, the university will invest in a five-year funding plan for G+JI. This enhanced funding will help the initiative fulfill its mission to build on existing research at Georgetown, catalyze dialogue across departments and campuses and make Georgetown a dynamic hub of knowledge production, community engagement and policy development.
“As a member of the Gender Equity Task Force, I am very excited that the full task force report is being released, and as a member of the Gender+ Justice Initiative Steering Committee, I look forward to partnering with the soon-to-be-formed Georgetown-wide Gender Equity Committee,” says Kristi Graves, associate professor of oncology. “This partnership can support ongoing dialogue about the recommendations, consider strategies for timely implementation of the recommendations and promote intersectional research focused on gender and racial justice.”
In addition to creating a new Gender Equity Committee and providing additional funding for gender-focused research, Georgetown will work to enhance the quality and comprehensiveness of faculty data for more regular analysis. The university also will conduct an updated analysis of faculty salary data to determine if there are areas with potential indicators of pay disparities and address any inequities that may exist.
The Gender Equity Committee and senior leadership will lead future work to engage with faculty and the Georgetown community on long-term efforts to address gender inequities.
Studying Gender Equity
The task force launched in April of 2018 under the leadership of Jane Aiken (LLM’85), who now serves as the Dean of Wake Forest Law. Colbert assumed the role of chair in June of 2019.
“Georgetown University is committed to academic excellence and, distinctively, social justice,” says Colbert. “This commitment to justice requires that the University examine and address historical structures that have created barriers to women and underrepresented faculty from fully participating in the pursuit of knowledge and the shape of the University.”
The task force approached its work by collecting institutional data across campuses, conducting interviews with department chairs and senior leadership, organizing listening sessions with Main Campus and Medical Center faculty and speaking with individual Georgetown Law faculty members.
Recent research indicates that the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women, particularly female caregivers, in higher education, which highlights the importance of the task force’s work.
“Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, the Gender Equity Task Force demonstrated its resilience and determination by continuing to pursue its mission,” says Rosemary Kilkenny, vice president, diversity, equity, inclusion and chief diversity officer. “The national pivot to teleworking and Georgetown’s quick transition to remote learning and working were also sobering reminders of the significance of institutional support for members of our community facing elder care and child care obligations.”
“The work ahead is to ensure that our commitment to equity – across gender, race, ethnicity, disability, religion, sexual orientation, age, and the range of identities that shape the lives of those in our community – is alive in our institutional practices and our campus culture.”
– President John J. DeGioia
Building on Community Support
Implementing the task force recommendations will supplement other actions the university has taken to support the Georgetown community, both during and before the coronavirus pandemic.
In recent federal COVID-19 relief legislation, Georgetown received funds that will, over the coming months, help support dependent care related to the pandemic for faculty and staff and reduce some of the challenges of resuming faculty research.