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Report reviews women's status at PSU

| Saturday, May 18, 2013, 6:06 p.m.

STATE COLLEGE — Women at Penn State either haven't made progress or have lost ground when it comes to being represented in several key areas, including leadership positions and enrollment, according to report from a university commission.

Among notable findings in the report entitled “Status of Women at Penn State, 2001-11,” released this month by the Commission for Women, was a decline in the representation of women in teaching positions as academic rank increased, from instructor to full professor.

The report measured representation through a “concentration ratio” that compared the percentage of women in a group with the percentage of women in the overall Penn State population. A ratio of 1-to-1 meant the representation was equal.

In teaching positions, the female concentration ratio in the instructor position was just more than 1.5-to-1 in 2011, about the same mark as in 2001.

But the ratio in the full professor position was only about 0.6-to-1 in 2011, though that was up slightly from just more than 0.4-to-1 a decade earlier.

“The university administration and members of the commission ... have discussed tenure rates for female tenure track faculty and are working to help improve the rates,” a report description said.

The report also said that low numbers of female administrators persisted, and the concentrations of women in undergraduate and graduate studies were below national trends.

However, concentrations of women in medical and law school were similar to national trends of women's enrollment, the study found.

The findings were distributed to executives across the university.

“While disappointing, this status report serves as a focal point for the Penn State community to have meaningful conversations about the status of women as we continue building a more diverse community that enriches our educational environment, and achieves equity in policy and practice,” commission co-chair Rose Baker, an assistant professor of workforce education, said in a statement.

In 2012, about 46 percent of the 84,500 students systemwide were women. About 53 percent of enrollees in the College of Medicine were women, as were about 45 percent of those in the law school.

The commission was established in 1981 to serve as an advisory group to the university president.

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