Although Georgetown has made strides in increasing the presence of women in the administration and faculty, men still outnumber women in leadership positions at the university.
Of the 36 members of the Board of Directors, six are women, or 16.7 percent, the third-lowest percentage of the top 25 national universities in the country. Only the University of Chicago and Washington University in St. Louis have a lower percentage of females on their governing boards, out of the top 25 schools as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.
The average percentage of women on university governing boards is 26.5 percent.
“Members of the Board of Directors are elected by the board. The gender composition of the board fluctuates as members retire and new members are elected,” Andy Pino, director of media relations, said.
Laura Kovach, director of the university’s Women’s Center, said she would like to see more women on the board.
“I would like to see more women engaged,” she said. “It’s important to have women involved at all levels at Georgetown.”
“Is it a problem that we don’t have many women advancing through ranks? Yes,” said Cathy Tinsley, executive director of the Georgetown University Women’s Leadership Initiative.
“The issue, though, is not a [Georgetown] one. It is one endemic to higher [education],” she said.
According to Tinsley, there is no easily identifiable reason for this trend.
“[It’s] likely to be a very complex network of reasons,” she said.
Board Chair Paul Tagliabue (CAS ’62) did not respond to requests for comment. The female members of the board did not respond to requests for comment or could not be reached.
Men also outnumber women in executive officer positions, the highest administrative positions in the university. Of the 18 executive officers of the university – which includes the main campus, Law Center, Medical Center and the School of Foreign Service in Qatar – five are women. Five of the 15 main campus executive officers are women.
“I think the university has a respectable representation [of women] at the senior administration level,” said Rosemary Kilkenny, vice president for institutional diversity and equity in the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action.
She noted that minority women were especially underrepresented at Georgetown, including at the executive officer level; Kilkenny is the only woman of color to serve in such a capacity at both the university and the main campus.
Given these statistics, however, Kilkenny stated that this is an improvement from the past.
“There has been a steady increase in the number of women who have ascended to high-level positions,” Kilkenny said.
According to Kilkenny, 39 percent of full-time faculty on the main campus are women, up from 35 percent in 2000.
According to the American Association of University Professors, in 2006, 30.2 percent of tenured faculty members at Georgetown were women and 22.7 percent of full professors were women. Georgetown is above the national average for the percentage of full-time faculty, tenured faculty and full professors who are women.
Kilkenny said that the university is currently compiling updated data on diversity in all employment categories, but that the most recent data is not yet available.
While women only make up about a third – 32.7 percent – of department and program chairs, almost half – 46.7 percent – of Georgetown deans are female.
The university is required by federal law to have an affirmative action plan and to ensure that the percentage of women and minorities hired in all job categories is not below the availability index for that category. The availability index is the percentage of people qualified for a certain type of job that are women and minorities.
Georgetown employs fewer women than the availability index in some categories, including senior faculty and executive officers, but exceeds the requirement in others, such as mid-level paraprofessionals.
Kilkenny said the university posts job advertisements targeted at women and minorities and reaches out to professional networks to attract more women and minorities to apply for jobs at Georgetown.
“These efforts need to be expanded,” she said.
Kilkenny said the university needs to create more opportunities for women to advance within the ranks of the university once hired.
“We have some structural challenges to overcome,” she said. She said the university should consider telecommuting, job sharing, more child-care options and other flexibility measures that would facilitate a balance between women’s jobs and other commitments.
“The opportunities for professional growth and development are certainly there,” she said.
The first women to enroll at Georgetown spent a year at the Medical School in the 1880-1881 school year. The School of Nursing and Health Studies has admitted women since its founding in 1904, and the last undergraduate school to admit women was the College of Arts and Sciences in 1969. According to U.S. News & World Report, the undergraduate student body is currently 53.7 percent female.
*This article is part one of a three-part series on women at Georgetown.*
**Correction:** This article originally stated that in 2006, 30.2 percent of tenured faculty members nationwide were women and 22.7 percent of full professors were women. The percentages cited were a measure of women faculty presence at Georgetown, not nationwide.”