Faculty & Staff News

UH still not satisfied with women faculty representation

Provost Paula Short at a Faculty Senate meeting UH. Women faculty representation are not at the levels UH wishes for yet.

At a Faculty Senate meeting Wednesday, Provost Paula Myrick Short gave updates on the hiring of two open dean positions. The big topic at the meeting, however, was UH falling short on hiring enough women and women of color faculty. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

The University still has not reached its goals to recruit and retain more women and women of color faculty, said a director at the Center for ADVANCING UH Faculty Success.

“We are in the bottom third in comparison to our peer institutions,” said Christiane Spitzmueller, managing director of the ADVANCE office, at a Faculty Senate meeting on Wednesday. “We are clearly moving in the right direction, but we have work to (do).”

The Center for ADVANCING UH Faculty Success was established with a $3.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to increase the number of tenured and tenure-track faculty who are women and women of color. The center is a part of the provost office and has been asking faculty to hire more women when they are searching for professors.

Only 1.1 percent of tenured and tenure-track faculty in STEM at UH are women of color, according to the center’s website.

“We’ve had years over the last five years where only 8 percent of the people who were promoted from associate (to full professor) were women,” Spitzmueller said.

Spitzmueller said mid-career workshops hosted by the University have brought that number up to 45 percent in promotion cycles held after the workshops. She said some women faculty don’t always see the direct benefit of promotion beyond compensation.

Women faculty at the University reported less gender equity, more burnout and are less satisfied with how transparent procedures are than men, according to a survey Spitzmueller helped conduct.

“We are hoping over the long term to close this gap,” Spitzmueller said.

Another initiative for the center is to reduce the number of faculty whose salaries are below the national average for their respective departments.

The University is also bringing back a home childcare service, Spitzmueller said. If a faculty member’s child is sick, they can call the service to watch their child at home for a few days. The faculty member can go to work as usual.

At the Faculty Senate meeting, Provost Paula Myrick Short also gave updates on searches for open dean positions. She said the search for vice provost and dean of UH Graduate School is down to four candidates, and a hire will be made soon.

Short also said the search for a replacement for College of Optometry Dean Earl Smith has just begun. She said Smith left to focus on major research projects he was completing.

“The circles of the colleges of optometry are very small, about 21 or 22 schools out there,” Short said. “It’s not a large population of College of Optometry, but we believe we will get a very fine candidate in the process.”

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