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The University will release an update regarding its progress in addressing Penn's continuing gender equity problem today.

The report comes in response to last year's publication of the University's Gender Equity Report. That report revealed perceived and actual discrepancies in gender equity among faculty members. According to the 1999 census data used for the study, the percentage of women faculty declined with each increase in rank.

In addition, comparative data illustrated that Penn lags behind competing institutions, specifically in gender equity at the non-Medical School tenured associate professor level.

"We think the University has work to do here," Provost Robert Barchi said yesterday. "We're committed to making sure that work gets done, and we're not just doing this as verbal window dressing."

The report released today outlines the steps the University has recently taken to promote gender equity throughout the University. It addresses each of the promises that Barchi and University President Judith Rodin made in their reply to the original Gender Equity Report, published in the Dec. 4, 2001 issue of the Almanac.

Departmental accountability was among the many steps identified in the report. Barchi said he is working with deans to ensure that all searches for new faculty members comply with gender equity guidelines.

Although the University does not make hires based solely on any applicant's gender, Barchi said the University is striving to make gender equity a priority in all search processes.

"We want to make sure that every hire appropriately takes into consideration opportunities for women and that we provide every opportunity to make sure that we have gender equity in every one of our searches," Barchi said.

Specifically, Barchi said the composition of faculty search committees should reflect the number of women in the given field. He added that search committees should strive to compile an applicant pool that accurately mirrors the gender distribution in the respective field as well.

The update reveals that several problematic search processes have arisen in the last year.

"In several instances over the past year, deans have identified search processes that were not designed to promote gender equity sufficiently," the report states. "In those instances, the deans asked that the search process be corrected to assure the appropriate consideration of women candidates."

Barchi said that this type of hold-up in the search process would discourage departments from not seeking an appropriate composition of candidates.

In addition, the update details ways the University has created incentives for establishing gender equity. For example, the University established a new fund to support the recruitment and retention of women faculty.

The update also addresses concerns about salary inequity among faculty. The initial Gender Equity Report did not determine any overall discrepancies between the salaries of male and female faculty members. However, the report did explain certain problems with the precision of the study. Low numbers of women faculty dictated that few females could be included in the comparisons.

This year's update explains that the deans have examined individual salary inequities over the last year. According to the report, problems were corrected in certain cases.

Yet despite all of these measures, Barchi said he does not expect to see a dramatic gender equity turn-around in the short term.

"It will take time," Barchi said. "Even having put all these elements in place, the result of that will take years to see."

Barchi also said that low numbers of women in certain fields make a goal of a one-to-one ratio of male-to-female faculty members practically impossible to achieve. However, Barchi said he still has high hopes for improvements.

"I think the loftiest ideal, if it happens in my lifetime, would be to have a gender balance in our faculty that reflects the applicant pool for higher academics throughout the country," Barchi said.

Barchi emphasized that the University is committed to making this goal a reality.

"The point I want to make is that we take this very seriously," Barchi said.

The update, originally scheduled to be presented by the beginning of this academic year, will appear in this week's issue of the Almanac.

The University plans to release a report each year to update the Penn community about its gender equity status. Barchi said that he hopes next year the report will include definitive numbers reflecting a positive change.

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