Associate Dean Seeks to Increase Number of Female
The Jacobs School’s new Associate Dean Jeanne Ferrante brings
many years of leadership experience, having served as Chair and Associate
Chair of the Computer Science and Engineering Department. Since her appointment
in July, Ferrante has gone straight to work on one of the most perplexing
problems in engineering—how to attract and retain women to the field.
For her part, she is focused on removing barriers so that female faculty
members will join and remain at UCSD.
“There isn’t just one magic bullet, but rather a number of
incremental things we need to do,” says Ferrante. She is convinced
that changes can enhance the quality of life for all faculty, men and
women alike, and is working with a committee of faculty leaders to devise
ways to increase the recruiting, retention, participation and promotion
of women faculty in science and engineering.
Currently, women comprise just 18% of UCSD’s faculty and, at the
Jacobs School, only 9% of the faculty are female. The UCSD leadership
is addressing the problem, starting with a campus-wide gender equity study
conducted in 2002, which led to several academic affairs initiatives including
better coordination of data related to the availability of women faculty
for recruiting, plans to enhance childcare facilities on campus, and stopping
the tenure clock while women are on parental leave. Although the good
news campus-wide is that the percentage of females among 2002 new faculty
hires increased to nearly 30%, the downside is that no women were hired
this year in engineering.
“Because UCSD is in a growth mode, we have the opportunity to establish
a critical mass of women faculty in science and engineering,” said
|UCSD faculty and Athena executives
brainstorm new networking possibilities for women faculty. (l
to r) Assoc. Dean Jeanne Ferrante, Martha Dennis (Athena), Francine
Berman (UCSD), and Anne Crossway (Athena)
In September, Ferrante and her committee submitted a proposal to the
National Science Foundation for funding through its ADVANCE program, which
is dedicated to increasing the representation and advancement of women
in science and engineering.
Some ideas in the pipeline include a fund to bring women candidates to
campus for interviews, peer-to-peer mentoring for new faculty and graduate
students, and leadership training for mid-level and senior faculty. The
committee also sees a new application for wireless technology: faculty
carrying specially programmed PDAs could pinpoint where colleagues are
on campus, facilitating quick conversations in hallways or at the coffee
shop. Ferrante says the initiatives will extend beyond UCSD and the committee
has already involved industry groups such as Athena, San Diego’s
networking organization for female technology executives.