Many women administrators in higher education will admit in private, and many in public, that the world of higher education is often unkind, unforgiving, unfair, and frankly brutal at times, to women faculty and administrators. This is not to say that male faculty and administrators don’t at sometime or the other in their careers experiences the same debilitating environment. This is simply to say that research and evidence shows that women administrators and faculty experience this more than men do.
Why is this case? What is it about the environment in higher education that makes it hostile for women and minorities? I will discuss them one by one in my upcoming posts. There are many white papers, commission reports, studies, and surveys that outline a host of reasons. Many of them are wrapped under the cloth of “social issues,” but equally many relate to the tolerance of the higher education community for what is blatantly wrong, simply unjust, and absolutely antiquated.
Creating change in higher education is not for the faint-hearted. Creating any change in a higher education is a slow dance, a very, very slow dance. Creating rapid change, even if it is desperately needed, is the kiss of death. While everyone will agree that change is needed, few want it, even fewer expect it, and less than a handful seek it. The pace of change in academia itself needs change. Within this context of slow and slower, creating a nurturing environment for women and minorities is a monumental task. Regardless of what Presidents’ and other public spokespersons may say, diversity and a fair working environment are not high priorities for many stakeholders on many campuses. If you are campus is an exception, congratulations! You are among the few. Diversity is nice talk. Everyone applauds the speaker, usually the President. And then people go home and come back to debilitating work environments to start the cycle of slow dance all over again. It is time for change. It is time for meaningful change at a rapid clip. Even if we do so, we will still be far behind corporate America. In my next posting, I will share some of the recommendations of commissions of the past and why even simple, easy to implement changes continue to remain on book shelves.