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Committee for the Support and Advancement of Women at Pitt

Minutes for April 15, 2004 meeting


  1. People attending:  Kit Ayars, Lisa Brush, Lynn Conner, Tanya Fabian, Jean Ferketish, Pat Friedman, Irene Frieze (chair), Leslie Hayden, Ellen Olshansky, Maureen Porter, Manjit Singh, Jennifer Stephan, Judy Stern, Madalyn Turner-Dickerkon, Amy Wagner, Erroline Williams and Darlene Zellers.


  1. Discussion of April 7 Plenary.  Comments were generally positive about the event overall, as well as the individual speakers and panelists.   The attendance was excellent, and may have set a record for a Senate Plenary.  Many staff and some students attended, as well as faculty and administrators.  Both men and women were present in the audience.  Concerns were raised about the focus on women marrying well [a comment from the audience] and the lack of attention to structural issues that impede womenís advancement.   The event received excellent coverage in the April 15 University Times.


  1. Review of the status of the Plenary recommendations.  The Recommendations were not completed in time for presentation at the Plenary.   Concerns were also expressed about waiting until we had input from the workshops and the Plenary event itself to incorporate into the recommendations.   We will be working on this over the coming year.


  1. Report on Committee website.  Old website is being updated.  See


  1. Brief Reports on Plenary Workshops.  The overall reaction to the workshops was quite positive.  All were very good.  Attendance varied from a low of about 7 attendees at the Family Friendly Benefits session to a high of nearly 40 for the session on Negotiations.  Many people asked about having more workshops in the future and this is something we need to think about.  One specific suggestion was that we ask our panelist, Jane Thompson, to do a general workshop.


Each workshop leader was asked to report briefly on her workshop and to prepare

a report for the website.

    1. Developing a relational work environment.  Ellen Olshansky.
    2. Family friendly benefits.  Lorie Ann Osho
    3. Surviving the high-wire act:  Balancing work and home.  Amy Wagner
    4. Women of color on campus.  Paula Davis
    5. Issues for lesbian and bisexual women.  Ray Anne Lockard
    6. Negotiations.  Katherine Wisner.
    7. Acquiring and using cultural capital for career mobility.  Consuella Lewis
  1. Discussion of Priorities for the new ad hoc committee.  Each person at the meeting was asked her ideas about future directions:
    1. Amy Wagner.  Each unit in the University has its own culture and issues in one unit may not be relevant for others.  But, some ideas can be generalized and have wide relevance.  The needs for mentors is one such example.
    2. Lynn Conner.  We need to develop better ways for women to have discussions with other women, perhaps through setting up groups for women to talk about personal and career issues.
    3. Kit Ayars.  Groups for women, and more general meetings and other activites are important ways for networking.  We might think of other ways that networking can be enhanced.
    4. Jennifer Stephan.  She has very much enjoyed working with the group as the undergraduate student representative from the Campus Womenís Organization.  CWO has received funding to sponsor lunches where undergraduate women can meet women faculty members in an informal setting.  We need to develop additional mentoring programs for students.
    5. Leslie Hayden.  It would be very helpful to have more ways that new women faculty can meet women in other units.  A group for these women would be helpful.
    6. Ellen Olshansky.  We need to think about multiple models for women to be successful and incorporate this into our activities.  We might develop a seminar series to introduce new women faculty to others in the University.
    7. Judy Stern.  The Plenaryís welcoming of staff participation in the planning and other events was much appreciated.  We should continue to be inclusive of staff.
    8. Darlene Zellers.  Staff and faculty donít always communicate well.  The Plenary activities were a good forum for this.  Mentoring programs are needed specifically for staff.
    9. Lisa Brush.  We need to make sure that we donít ask women to give too much service.  Women are often expected to do this as part of other work demands, but are rarely rewarded for this.  We canít blame women for the barriers they face.  Departments need to be made accountable for these barriers and for finding ways to eliminate them.
    10. Maureen Porter.  The History of Women at Pitt exhibit was an excellent addition to the Plenary and many people looked at this.  We  need to make sure this exhibit is updated and expanded.  The Plenary website served as an important resource and we need to continue to maintain this.  Her students may be able to assist us in our activities in the coming year.
    11. Madalyn Turner-Dickerkon.  She, too, was glad that staff were invited to participate in Plenary activities.  We need to be concerned with diversity on campus, as well as with women.  We need to explore additional ways that minority members can be appointed to staff positions.
    12. Erroline Williams.  Racism on campus continues to be an important issue.  We need to continue to develop mentoring programs and networking opportunities for minorities and women.
    13. Pat Friedman.  Women do tend to have good relationship skills.  We need to continue to bring womenís perspectives into our activities.
    14. Tanya Fabian.  We need to educate people more on what the issues are.
    15. Jean Ferketish.  We need to examine the culture and determine how to release some of the barriers to change.  Traditional female leadership skills such as building strong teams are often not rewarded in the University context, and may not be as visible as they should be to others. 


    7.  Plans for future meetings.   There will be another general meeting at the end of May or early June.  There was interest in having a party or picnic later in the   summer or early fall, but no specific plans were developed.



Submitted by Irene Frieze