New faculty equity chief takes helm
New faculty equity chief takes helm Chemistry professor Angelica Stacy sets agenda for changes this year

By Diane Ainsworth, Public Affairs



Professor Angelica Stacy is the campus’s new associate vice provost for faculty equity.
Noah Berger photo

03 October 2001 | Angelica Stacy, the campus’s new associate vice provost for faculty equity, is excited to be in her new position at this particular time in Berkeley’s history.

“There is a real possibility of making a difference,” said Stacy, an 18-year member of the Berkeley chemistry faculty and full professor in the department. “There are times when change will occur more rapidly; I think this is one of those times, because we have such significant support from the administration and the campus as a whole to improve the diversity of the faculty.”

The university’s new Office of the Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Equity includes not only the elevated position of associate vice provost, but a more comprehensive operation that will involve two new staff members. The new operation adds a full-time director for equity and a full-time data analyst, who will gather and analyze data on faculty diversity.

Like the former office, which was known as the Faculty Equity Associate’s office, the associate vice provost’s office will review all faculty hires and merit and promotion cases. The office also reviews all faculty searches to ensure compliance with federal affirmative action requirements. Stacy has been appointed to the position of associate vice provost on a half-time basis, and serves as vice chair for instruction in the Chemistry Department the other half of her time.

Stacy’s goals during the first year of her multi-year appointment are twofold: to put new procedures in place for faculty searches that will attract a more diverse applicant pool; and to begin to study the climate on campus for women and minority faculty.

“We know there’s been a drop-off in the hiring of women and minorities, here at Berkeley and at the UC systemwide level, since the passage of Proposition 209,” Stacy said.

A comparison of data on Berkeley faculty recruitment has shown a decline in the number of women and underrepresented minorities hired: in the four years (1992-1995) preceding passage of Proposition 209, 33 percent of faculty hired at Berkeley were women; 11 percent were minorities.

During the five years (1996-2000) following passage of the legislation, only 27 percent were women and 4 percent were minorities.

Systemwide, the statistics are similar. According to data from the UC Office of the President, women faculty hired between 1992 and 1995 comprised 35 percent of total faculty hires; women hired from 1996 to 1999 comprised 28 percent.

The decline has been observed across the board, from the humanities and social sciences to the physical sciences and professional schools.

Recent studies have magnified the role of unconscious biases as a possible cause for the declining numbers of women and minority doctorates entering academe. In one study published in 1997 by researchers at Göteborg University, Sweden, the authors found that reviewers judged the scientific competence of the top women in the study barely higher than the least qualified men, even though the women had significantly more publications of higher quality.

“Data from the Office of the President, for instance, have shown that the UC system hires men from a much broader range of schools and we hire women from a much narrower range of schools,” Stacy said. “This begs the question of why we’re taking women only from the very top schools and giving men more leeway.

“A lot is taken for granted when we say we are looking for ‘the best,’” she said. “What do we really mean by that and how do unconscious biases influence our judgments about the competence of men and women?

“We need to explore these biases in open discussion, and gain a deeper understanding of why there is excellence in diversity. Clearly, if we are limiting our hires to certain segments of the availability pool, we are not necessarily hiring the best candidate in all instances.”

Another important role for the office will be to make sure departments are furnishing all relevant benefit information to prospective faculty hires, Stacy said.

“A good example of that is Berkeley’s family leave policy,” she said. “We have an excellent policy, but I don’t think we always let candidates know this.”

Stacy said there may be a variety of other factors deterring women and minorities from applying to Berkeley, such as stopping the tenure clock for child-bearing, the high cost of living in the Bay Area, non-competitive salaries and the climate on campus.

To help her identify some of these factors more explicitly, her office plans to survey the faculty later this year to better characterize the quality of life on campus. The survey will probe recipients about space, staffing, workloads, salary equity, recognition, and the availability of resources, among other topics.

“I think we need to open up all of these issues for discussion,” Stacy said.

“The dialogue will help us to design ways of solving problems that exist for certain segments of our community. This kind of change is hard; it doesn’t happen overnight.

“But I’m optimistic that progress toward solving existing problems and obtaining excellence through diversity can be achieved once we start addressing the issues head on.”


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