Tilghman appoints committee on undergraduate women's leadership

Read the full charge to the committee

Princeton University President Shirley M. Tilghman has charged a new committee of faculty, staff and students with developing a better understanding of how undergraduate students perceive and seize the opportunities available to them to assert leadership both inside and outside the classroom.

Tilghman has established the Steering Committee on Undergraduate Women's Leadership at Princeton in response to recent conversations on campus about women's roles in academic and extracurricular activities.

"This fall there have been a number of discussions on campus, including within the pages of The Daily Princetonian, that raise the critical question of whether women undergraduates are realizing their academic potential and seeking opportunities for leadership at the same rate and in the same manner as their male colleagues," she wrote in her charge to the committee. "It has been noted that the officers of the Undergraduate Student Government and the 10 eating clubs, as well as recent Rhodes and Marshall scholars have been predominantly male, while women are more often leaders in the residential colleges and community service organizations."

Tilghman observed in her charge that this year marks the 40th anniversary of the arrival of undergraduate women who would receive Princeton degrees. In September of 1969, 101 women matriculated with the class of 1973, together with 70 transfer students who joined the classes of 1970, 1971 and 1972. This fall, the freshman class of 2013 is composed of 650 men and 650 women.

"In the intervening years, women have succeeded and demonstrated leadership at the highest levels at Princeton," Tilghman wrote.

The committee will be chaired by Nannerl Keohane, the Laurance S. Rockefeller Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the University Center for Human Values. She is the former president of Duke University and Wellesley College, and was one of the first women to lead a major U.S. research university. She has just completed a book on the topic of leadership.

"I am very pleased that President Tilghman has initiated this steering committee, and I am delighted to chair it," Keohane said. "I especially look forward to talking with and hearing from undergraduate students about their experience at Princeton. Learning more about undergraduate leadership is important to Princeton's future as well as to the individual students -- both men and women -- who come to Princeton with such exceptional promise, both in and outside the classroom."

Tilghman has asked the group to examine current and historic data on both academic leadership and extracurricular participation at Princeton and, whenever possible, to make comparisons with peer institutions. She also has requested the group to consult broadly with the student body through workshops and focus groups.

The committee is expected to look at questions ranging from whether the relative academic standings of men and women change as students progress from freshmen to seniors, to how the gender profile of student "leaders" has evolved over the past few decades and whether men or women change their aspirations to be student leaders once they come to Princeton.

The committee will begin meeting immediately and continue its work through the fall of 2010.

"At the conclusion of their deliberations they will issue a report, which will describe their findings, and include recommendations for improving the opportunities for all students to excel at Princeton," Tilghman wrote in the charge. "In developing their recommendations I would ask the steering committee to aim for remedies that will have sustained and broad impact at Princeton."

The other members of the committee are: Elizabeth Armstrong, associate professor of sociology and public affairs; Amy Borovoy, associate professor of East Asian studies; Angela Creager, professor of history; Jill Dolan, professor of English and theater in the Lewis Center for the Arts; junior Lizzie Drumm; Thomas Dunne, associate dean of undergraduate students; Thomas Espenshade, professor of sociology; freshman Catherine Ettman; Rebecca Graves-Bayazitoglu, dean of Whitman College; junior Kahina Haynes; Naomi Leonard, the Edwin S. Wilsey Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; Nancy Malkiel, dean of the college and professor of history; sophomore Osahon Okundaye; Amada Sandoval, director of the Women's Center; Stacey Sinclair, associate professor of psychology and African American studies; junior Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux; Stacy Wolf, associate professor of theater in the Lewis Center for the Arts; and junior Jane Yang. Janet Gruschow, assistant to the president, will staff the committee.