UGA is rolling out its Women’s Leadership Initiative with new policies and programs related to recruitment, hiring and retention, leadership and career development, and work-life balance.
The percentage of women holding leadership positions in UGA’s administration has remained flat for more than a decade, even as the proportion of female faculty has grown steadily. This is reflective of national trends in higher education and in the private sector, and UGA is taking several steps to increase the representation of women in leadership roles.
In spring 2015, President Jere W. Morehead and Provost Pamela Whitten launched the Women’s Leadership Initiative. Whitten charged a 10-member planning committee with assessing what barriers were preventing the university from developing, recruiting and hiring qualified women for leadership positions. The committee identified three areas of focus where reimagined policies and targeted programming could advance gender equity at UGA.
“The new policies and programs that will be implemented through the Women’s Leadership Initiative demonstrate the university’s strong commitment to gender equity,” Morehead said. “I am pleased that this important initiative is moving forward in concrete ways that will enhance leadership opportunities for women on campus.”
The university will formally define and integrate its practices for recruiting and hiring women. From the outset of every search process, encouraging the successful recruitment of a diverse, qualified talent pool and documenting these efforts will be standard practice as units work with the Office of Faculty Affairs. As a result, search committees will be more actively engaged in the recruitment of women candidates.
The Office of Faculty Affairs, in partnership with Human Resources, will train administrators with hiring authority, as well as search committee chairs, on the new requirements and best practices for minimizing bias and encouraging diversity. The recommended practices will be supported by online guides with information on advertising positions, suggested content for position descriptions and the charge given to search committees, and managing confidentiality, references and feedback.
UGA will launch the Women’s Leadership Fellows program, which will offer a selected group of faculty a year-long series of seminars, discussions and workshops on leadership development and early exposure to administrative training in budgets and finance, fundraising, change management and legal affairs. UGA also is launching a development series aimed at early-career faculty and a series of Women’s Leadership Lectures for the entire campus.
Human Resources is piloting a new staff position to develop a hub of work-life balance resources and assist faculty and staff. The Work-Life Resources Coordinator will serve as the point of contact to help employees address concerns about work-life balance. Human Resources also will create an online resource with information on the programs and services UGA offers to promote work-life balance.
“The Women’s Leadership Initiative marks a turning point in how the University of Georgia attracts, retains and advances its faculty, staff and administrators,” Whitten said. “We are putting into place a set of policies and resources to ensure that the gates of opportunity remain open for everyone.”