MADISON — University of Wisconsin System President Katharine C. Lyall will respond to the recommendations and findings of a new study on the status of women students, faculty and administrators in the UW System at the Board of Regents meeting, Friday, February 11.

The systemwide study was co-chaired by Associate Vice Chancellor Betsy Draine (UW-Madison) and Provost Vicki Lord Larson (UW-Oshkosh).

“In the UW System, like society at large, we need the brains and the ingenuity of all our faculty and staff, male and female to carry out our mission and to serve students and the state with excellence,” Lyall said.

In 1998, Lyall appointed a 26-member committee with representatives from each UW System institution and charged the committee “to review how far we have come and how we might focus our efforts for the next decade to ensure that the UW System uses the talent of women effectively and serves all students well.”

The committee recently reported their findings in Equality for Women in the University of Wisconsin System: A Focus for Action in the Year 2000.

The last systemwide assessment of this kind was in 1981 and resulted in the Board of Regents adopting A Blueprint for Achievement of Educational Equity in the ’80s.

“Since 1981, the environment and many of the issues affecting women on our campuses have changed, although some have not,” Lyall said. “The issues that concern our women faculty and staff today have evolved from ‘first order’ issues of getting policies and practices in place to ‘second order’ concerns of campus climate and the thousand small things that make a workplace friendly and supportive.”

Over the past 20 years, student life, the academic workplace and the status of women generally have changed at UW System institutions:

  • Women now make up 55 percent of the student body;
  • The total UW System workforce, faculty and staff, is virtually 50/50 percent;
  • Female faculty have grown from 19 percent to 28 percent of total faculty; and
  • Women constitute over half of the academic staff, 58 percent of the classified staff and 35 percent of the senior administration at the level of dean and higher.

“We have indeed made strides for women since 1981, but we still have work to do to increase women faculty in some of the sciences and math, to mentor university women for success and career advancement, to ensure affordable childcare and safety on our campuses, and to help all our employees, male and female, better balance their work and their personal lives,” Lyall said.

Her proposals to address the committee’s recommendations include:

  • Increasing the staff commitment in UWSA to collect systemwide and national data on the status of women in higher education and to continue to identify “best practices” that will maximize the contributions of women, faculty, staff and students to the educational mission;
  • Continuing the Academic Leadership Institute to help women and men throughout UW System institutions develop the skills needed to move successfully into administrative positions.
  • Continuing fundraising efforts to support Plan 2008 pre-college opportunities and financial aid and ensure that these programs provide needed opportunities for K-12 girls and young women applying to UW System institutions.
  • Asking each institution to address the key areas for progress identified by the Committee on the Status of Women and report by January 2001 its plans to meet these challenges.

The committee’s report can be found on the Internet at


Sharyn Wisniewski, UW System
(608) 262-6448