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President University of Tulane's view on Gender Balance

Scott Cowen

- Education

- Mar 12 2014

Scott Cowen

President University of Tulane, New Orleans, USA

I am particularly proud of the gender balance that we maintain here at Tulane. Universities, in particular, are quite sensitive and open minded to the topic of gender balance in the workplace, as we have been addressing this issue long before most other industries. For decades, academic institutions have focused on increasing the female population among our student body. This effort not only enlarges the population of educated women, but increases the percentage of extremely competent women in the workplace as well.

Although diversity has always been a strong goal for this institution, we still face gender balance challenges when hiring professors in certain academic fields such as science, technology and mathematics, due to the much smaller pool of female applicants. As such, we are very mindful to ensure a level of diversity in the applicant pool as we aim to find the best candidate for every position. If we can fill a position and increase diversity at the same time that is definitely something we want to do. I am confident that as the percentage of female candidates in these fields increases, so too will the number of women professors in these specific fields.

As the university continues to diversify, we see ourselves focusing on areas such as flex time and childcare more than we have ever done before. While some policies have been created to accommodate the needs of women, the resulting changes end up creating benefits for male counterparts as well, as services and opportunities are equally available to men and women.

Our understanding of the work-life balance has also improved from what it was say, 20 years ago. For example, today’s tenure track professors are afforded much more flexibility when they want to start families. Presented with the option to put their work on hold for a period of time, more professors are able to take time to be with their families and still be able to return to work without falling behind.

As we create and adapt these types of policies, women are able to remain longer in workplace and ascend to top jobs. I see this trend not only continuing, but also increasing – especially at higher levels of administration in colleges and universities.

Study after study – some from right here on our own campus – shows that this diversity simply enhances learning for the entire workplace. People with different backgrounds tend provide new ways to look at problems. I have personally benefitted from being surrounded by fresh perspectives time and time again. In my daily life, I am collaborating and working with women who have significant operational responsibilities in the university. These colleagues often see an issue differently than I do and it’s great to hear their point of view. Having another point of view on all types of issues is very useful to me and helps me do my job even better.

Scott Cowen
President University of Tulane, New Orleans, USA

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President University of Tulane's view on Gender Balance

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