Tilghman establishes gender equity task force

President Shirley M. Tilghman has created a task force of faculty members who have been charged with developing "a long-term strategy to attract and retain highly talented women faculty in the natural sciences and engineering departments at Princeton." The group will be chaired by Virginia Zakian, the Harry Wiess Professor in the Life Sciences.

The initiative, called the President's Task Force on the Status of Women in Natural Sciences and Engineering at Princeton, grew out of a workshop held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in January. The presidents and chancellors of nine research universities met to discuss issues of gender equity in science and engineering. Former President Harold Shapiro attended the workshop with Dean of the Faculty Joseph Taylor and three faculty members, who happened to include Tilghman. The others were Ruby Lee, professor of electrical engineering, and Joan Girgus, professor of psychology.

The workshop attendees agreed to analyze the salaries and the proportion of other university resources provided to women faculty and to work toward a faculty that reflects the diversity of the student body. Leaders from the schools agreed to reconvene within a year to share information on the initiatives they are pursuing.

"We recognized that the question of gender equity presents major challenges and may require changes not only within universities themselves but also in the scientific and engineering establishments as a whole," said Tilghman. "We also realized that any course of action must be grounded in a thorough understanding of the current situation."

As a first step, Tilghman has asked the committee to collect and analyze data about Princeton's record in areas such as salary, hiring, promotion, retention, teaching load and allocation of research space and other research resources.

Over the last six months, Taylor and Lin Ferrand, associate dean of the faculty, already have begun collecting information regarding these questions. Their work will form the basis of the committee's further research and analysis.

Ferrand, Girgus and Lee have been appointed to the task force along with these faculty members: Bruce Draine, astrophysical sciences; Catherine Peters, civil and environmental engineering; Dan Rubenstein, ecology and evolutionary biology; Sandra Troian, chemical engineering; Suzanne Walker, chemistry; and Bess Ward, geosciences.

Contact: Marilyn Marks (609) 258-3601