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UCLA Anderson Takes on Gender Inequality in Faculty Promotions

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To address perceived gender inequality, faculty and staff at the UCLA Anderson School of Management will soon vote to implement revisions to the faculty promotion process, according to a recent article in the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s campus newspaper.

Suggested revisions, which include changes to the tenure and evaluation processes for Anderson professors, come in response to a July 2015 report by consulting agency Korn Ferry that found that the school fostered unconscious biases against female faculty members, according to the Bruin report. The Korn Ferry report also found that there is a perception that it is more difficult for women to earn promotions, tenure and equal compensation than it is for male faculty members.

The revisions, if approved via the upcoming faculty and staff vote, are expected to be implemented in fall 2017.

Anderson Professor Brett Trueman was appointed to serve as the school’s faculty diversity advisor after the release of the Korn Ferry report. According to the Bruin article, Trueman shared that the revisions are designed to make the promotion and tenure process more transparent and prioritize job performance over personal qualities. As part of this increased transparency, faculty members who apply for promotion or tenure will also be informed of the criteria for upgrading their position, he added.

Anderson is one of very few leading business schools to claim a female dean. Judy Olian has served in the role since 2006. She noted, as part of the Bruin article, that already since the Korn Ferry report school officials have interviewed and hired more female faculty as part of efforts to promote gender equality. According to Olian, about 50 percent of the faculty members hired in 2015 were women.

She added that many female faculty members have also since been promoted to full, tenure-track professors, including heads of programs and a department chair. Currently, five out of nine members of senior management teams are women. In further efforts to address gender inequality, Olian has also organized online discussion forums, small-group discussions and a faculty retreat in the past year to provide forums where faculty members can voice their concerns.

According to Corinne Bendersky, Anderson associate professor of management and organizations, these initiatives have encouraged faculty members to voice their concerns, but there is still work to be done. “There are still some members of the community who don’t perceive it as a problem and the sincerity with which all the faculty members embrace it is still a question,” she told the Bruin. “But many more people are now aware of the problem.”

Since being appointed faculty diversity advisor, Trueman has spoken with many male faculty members whom he said may not have been aware of their gender biases. Overcoming the gender bias problem will require faculty members of both genders becoming more conscious of their implicit biases and making efforts to address them, he added.

“I am pleasantly surprised we’re making as much progress as we are,” Trueman told the Bruin. “But it’s not to say that everything is fine—you can’t change people’s perceptions and behaviors overnight or even over one year.”

A vote over whether or not to implement the proposed revisions to the promotion and tenure process will take place in the next few weeks.

Read the complete Bruin article here.

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