The University is launching a bold initiative that it hopes will foster the professional success of women faculty, staff and students.
The initiative, the Michigan Agenda for Women: Leadership for a New Century, sets the year 2000 as a target date for becoming the leader among American universities in promoting the success of women of diverse backgrounds.
Drafted by President James J. Duderstadt in consultation with numerous women and men throughout the Univer-sity, the Agenda proposes a range of goals and specific strategies and actions.
The draft is just thata draft, he cautions. We will be seeking the suggestions and contributions of many individuals and groups throughout the University community as the draft is refined. But it is important to get on with the task of evaluating and implementing the recommendations, he adds. To achieve the vision proposed by the Agenda, it will be necessary to change the University in very profound, pervasive and permanent ways.
Duderstadt notes that he has a strong personal interest in the Agenda. I am fortunate to be a friend and colleague to many talented, wise, energetic and determined women, and I have seen first-hand some of the barriers that continue to prevent women from achieving their full potential and contributing their great talents and leadership, not just to this University, but to society at large. And I have learned that at times, my male-biased view of the world was just plain wrong, he adds.
Duderstadt notes that the University has made some progress over the past two decades. For instance, in 1950, women were only 32 percent of the student body. Today, women comprise 48 percent of undergraduate and 40 percent of graduate enrollments. Professional schools have made similar progress, and women have assumed more roles in middle and upper management.
Yet, it is also clear that the University simply has not made enough progress. Our actions to date, while characterized by the best of intentions, have been ad hoc and lacking precise goals and strategies, he says.
The Agenda, which proposes such goals and strategies, will augment the Michigan Mandate, the Universitys plan for evolving into a diverse, multicultural institution.
We recognize that women at the U-M are an incredibly diverse group in terms of race, age, educational background, sexual orientation, and many other characteristics. Women of color face a particular challenge as they struggle for success in the face of both gender and racial prejudice in our society.
Today, Duderstadt says, we draw on the experience gained through the Michigan Mandate. The Agenda is an inclusive plan that will draw on the strength of our diversity, ensuring that all women at this institution are full beneficiaries of the various components of the plan.
The Agenda calls for the following:
Many of the recommendations in the Agenda draw upon the work of the Presidents Advisory Commission on Womens Issues, which formed in 1988.
We will continue to draw upon the efforts and support of the commission, and we inviteindeed, we will depend uponthe participation of other groups as well, as the Agenda evolves over the coming months, Duderstadt says.