"Fr. Wild and I did commit that we will not stand for inequity in any sense. If women are not being paid fairly, we'll fix that. We want women in leadership positions for equity and quality reasons. We need that. It's a new day here at Marquette."1
I. History of the Task Force
A front-page article, published in the June, 1999 issue of the Business Journal succinctly summarized the concerns that gave rise to the formation of the Task Force on Gender Equity at Marquette.2 Prior to the Task Force formation, women faculty at Marquette had raised issues in private conversations with administrators and in public meetings. Some of these concerns related to the low numbers of women faculty at Marquette. For example, "[a]t the spring meeting of the Marquette chapter of the American Association of University Professors, women faculty noted that in the fall of 1998, only twenty-five percent of Marquette's full-time faculty were women."3 Moreover, in the fall of 1998, only six of the 114 faculty members holding Full Professor rank (the highest academic rank) were women.4 According to the AAUP ranking of 1500 American colleges and universities, Marquette ranks in the bottom three percent for women holding Full Professor rank.
Other concerns of women faculty related to gender bias. Two women faculty believed they had been the targets of intentional gender discrimination. Another felt the gender discrimination was subtle, unintentional, and difficult to identify. One woman stated that there is an old-fashioned mindset at Marquette, according to which men are the doers and the thinkers, while the women help the men. That mindset has prevented women from being considered for positions of authority. Further, one woman faculty member commented on the importance of perceptions of discriminatory attitudes and behavior, observing that even the perceptions of such attitudes and behavior can discourage women from applying for leadership roles or promotions within the University. Other issues raised in the Business Journal concerned the climate for women at Marquette, and the high turnover rates of women faculty experienced by one college in particular.5 Concerns such as these motivated Fr. Wild and members of his administration to form a Task Force on Gender Equity.
Nationally, the first wave of investigations into gender equity issues began in the late sixties and early seventies, when many colleges and universities conducted "voluntary studies" to assess the status of women on their campuses.6 Consequently, Marquette is a relative newcomer to a process that has been underway in academia for some time. However, as a newcomer, Marquette is not alone. The University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee also has recently begun self-study on issues pertaining to gender.7
Reverend Robert Wild, S. J., the President of Marquette University, announced the formation of a Task Force on Gender Equity at the May, 1999 Pere Marquette dinner. At that time, Fr. Wild explained that concerns had been raised, in both public meetings and private conversations, about the status of women faculty. While the membership of the group had not yet been determined, he designated a Chair for the Task Force. That role would be filled by Professor Phoebe Weaver Williams, Associate Professor of Law at Marquette University Law School. He anticipated that the Task Force would undertake to gather data on possible gender issues regarding rank, salary, and workload.
In July, 1999, Fr. Wild issued a charge to the Task Force on Gender Equity that paralleled a number of concerns leading to formation of the Task Force. In particular, the Task Force was charged:
It should be noted that the charge applied only to faculty and did not extend to other University constituencies, such as staff and students, who might also have gender equity issues. Furthermore, the charge required both a quantitative and a qualitative assessment of gender equity as it related to various areas of faculty endeavor and activities.
1 Dr. Jerry Viscione, quoted in Julie Sneider, "MU to Study Bias Claims," Business Journal, vol. 16, no. 40 (June 25, 1999), 45.
4 Id., 1. According to the American Association of University Professors, at Ph.D. granting institutions in 1974-75, 6.1% of Full Professors were women. In 1997-98, 13.8% of full professors were women. Marquette's statistic regarding women Full Professors in 1998 is, consequently, consistent with the percent of women who were Full Professors thirty years ago. See "Disparities in the Salaries and Appointments of Academic Women and Men," Academe: Bulletin of the American Association of University Professors, vol. 85, no. 1 (January-February 1999), 61.
6 Susan J. Scollay and Carolyn S. Bratt, "Reflections on the Limitations of Rational Discourse, Empirical Data, and Legal Mandates as Tools for the Achievement of Gender Equity in American Higher Education," 84 Kentucky Law Journal 903, 910 (1995-96). Schools that initially conducted gender equity studies included: Brandeis, State University of New York of Buffalo, California State College at Fullerton, Eastern Illinois University, University of Illinois, Kansas State Teachers College, University of Maryland, New York University Law School, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, among others. See Id. at 910, note 39.