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With a gender ratio of 49 males to 51 females, Georgetown has achieved almost perfectly balanced gender equality on campus. For faculty, though, it is a different story. Georgetown has two male professors for every female professor, as indicated by statistics from the university’s Office of Planning and Institutional Research.

According to University Provost James O’Donnell, Georgetown hires strictly on the basis of faculty merit. “We treat every search for a faculty position as one that should strengthen us in every way possible,” he said. “We bring in people who are the best scholars, the best teachers and the best qualified.”

This gender gap has, however, been slowly closing over the years. As relayed in a 2004 report from CityTownInfo.com, three years ago, the male-female professor ratio was 3:1.

In a 2006 report from the American Association of University Professors, the ratio for professors on the tenure track is much more even. According to its Faculty Gender Equity Indicators report, professors on the tenure track are 42.1 percent female and 57.9 male.

Bonnie Morris, adjunct assistant professor in the women’s and gender studies program, notes a significant difference between the past and present attitude of Georgetown’s campus toward female faculty and women’s studies.

“There was tremendous hostility on campus toward the women’s and gender studies program in the early ’90s,” she recalls. “But over the years, Georgetown has become a wonderful climate of support for the program. There is a strong, incredibly dynamic faculty in women’s studies that is well-respected.”

“Male faculty at Georgetown have always been respectful, and I have never had a negative experience with the administration concerning sexism,” Douja Mamelouk, adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, said.

At Georgetown, programs and administrators have demonstrated and attempted to garner campus support for gender equality.

Catherine Tinsley, associate professor in the McDonough School of Business and executive director of the Georgetown University Women’s Leadership Initiative, said she has always received support from Georgetown as a female professor. “The university has also consistently supported GUWLI, since donating our seed money,” she said.

GUWLI is a university-sponsored organization that brings together faculty, executives and students to scientifically study gender dynamic issues by sponsoring speakers and conducting workshops and research initiatives. Started in 2003 as a partnership between the Office of the President and the McDonough School of Business to promote women’s empowerment, GUWLI has since experienced a two-fold rise in participation and a three-fold rise in sponsorship, with more than 1,000 students and 200 alumni participating.

In April, Daniel Porterfield, senior vice president for strategic development in the Office of Public Affairs, called the initiative a “brilliant endeavor.”

“There is still so much miscommunication, so many unexamined assumptions, so many old sexist practices and mindsets and modes of thought that hold us all back as individuals and as organizations with missions that matter,” he said. “Georgetown cares about these realities . because we ourselves, as an institution, as an employer, sustain some of [these] structural inequalities and biases.”

GUWLI’s Distinguished Speaker Series will continue on Nov. 6 with female executives from Citigroup and XM Satellite Radio coming to Georgetown to share expectations of women in the workforce with students. The intent is to provide women with a large set of successful role models to offer advice and strategies for the workforce.

The Georgetown University Women’s Center is also supported by the university, receiving funding from the Department of Student Affairs. The Women’s Center provides programs open to students, faculty and the community that each focus on a facet of women’s promotion.

“The fact that Georgetown has a place like the Women’s Center is a sign of a supportive environment,” Women’s Center Director Laura Kovach said. “Female faculty as well as female students have a safe place to go to on campus that is also a great resource for any questions they have concerning gender equality.”

The center and GUWLI recently kicked off their co-sponsored program, Women Advancing Gender Equity. WAGE connects undergraduate women with alumnae to provide mentorship for students and develop positive leadership on campus and beyond.

Kovach said that the center is working to close the gender gap in the faculty. “The center will continue to meet all the needs of Georgetown’s diverse community and work closely with other on-campus initiatives such as GUWLI, Catholic Daughters and the Diversity Action Council,” she said. “More work certainly needs to be done and these improvements take time.”

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