The university announced a bold commitment last week
to achieve, by the year 2020, complete gender equity at
Johns Hopkins in terms of the makeup of the faculty and in
senior leadership positions, as well as significant changes
in institutional culture.
The ambitious goal was laid out in the University
Committee on the Status of Women's final report, which was
presented by committee chair Linda Fried to university
leadership at a luncheon meeting held on Nov. 8 in
Levering's Great Hall on the Homewood campus.
President William R. Brody; Steven Knapp, provost and
senior vice president for academic affairs; and Jim McGill,
senior vice president for finance and administration, were
joined at the event by other top university administrators
and deans, in addition to those on the 35-member
blue-ribbon committee that formed in 2002.
The 163-page report, titled Vision 2020, identifies
three overarching themes — leadership, work/life balance and
cultural dimensions — that need to be addressed in order to
resolve current gender-based career obstacles for women
faculty, staff and students at Johns Hopkins. The document
provides an examination of the root causes of gender
inequity at the university and offers a series of
recommendations to achieve substantial change in this area.
The committee's primary recommendations are to
achieve, by 2020, 50 percent representation of women in
senior faculty and leadership positions and to realize
gender equity with respect to every measure of career
satisfaction and advancement at Johns Hopkins.
Currently, the report says, the university ranks last
in its peer group for its percentage of women executives
and leaders. The committee's findings also point to
substantive, systemic and cultural obstacles based on
gender in every division of the university; these obstacles
hamper career growth for females and create an environment
where collegial relationships often seem elusive.
Today, 35 percent of the full-time faculty and 18
percent of the full professors at JHU are female. In
addition, while women make up nearly two-thirds of Hopkins
staff, they remain significantly underrepresented in terms
of leadership positions.
Fried, director of the Division of Geriatric Medicine
and Gerontology in the School of Medicine, said that this
report will become a "road map" for Johns Hopkins' taking a
leading role nationally among universities on the issue of
"We have the opportunity at this moment in time, this
moment in history, to create the first university with true
equity for women," Fried said in her presentation. "We
think that this report offers a plan to accomplish that and
have Johns Hopkins become a model for gender equity
Fried said that while Johns Hopkins has made
significant progress in terms of gender equity and hiring
practices in the past 20 years, a more universitywide and
sustained approach is needed to make even greater strides
and enact definitive and substantial change.
Specifically, the report calls for the university to
make a commitment to leadership equity; transform the
culture at JHU to make the university a more attractive
environment for female students, faculty and staff; and
focus on underlying issues that cause gender inequity
In terms of its leadership goals, the committee
recommends that the university consider redesigning
leadership roles to be more attractive to women and more
supportive of their success; develop new hiring practices
for both administrative and senior faculty positions, such
as revising search committee processes; and commit
resources to increase representation of senior female
scholars and to the development of an Institute for
The report claims there no longer exists a "pipeline"
issue when it comes to hiring and promotion practices, as
there is a vast pool of well-qualified female candidates
for faculty and administrative roles.
For work-life balance, the committee recommends that
the university's divisions consider the establishment of
"flexible" career paths, especially in terms of the tenure
track, while not sacrificing the university's commitment to
excellence or devaluing those who expect flexibility.
The report states that the current environment at
Johns Hopkins continues to be male-dominated and, overall,
nonsupportive of women. To confront this, the report says
that "substantial cultural change" is needed to address the
issue of gender inequity, such as learning to value and
reward women's contributions; provide more career
development opportunities for women; confront the issue of
"isolation" from colleagues that women experience; and
"institutionalize" equity and a culture of equity and
work/life balance through procedures, policies, training
and organizational structures.
After Fried's presentation, President Brody announced
that Charlene Hayes, vice president for human resources,
and Myron L. Weisfeldt, the William Osler Professor and
director of the Department of Medicine in the School of
Medicine, will co-chair a newly formed universitywide
commission that will implement the recently adopted
"Principles for Ensuring Equity, Civility and Respect for
All." As part of its charge, the commission will help
implement the Vision 2020 recommendations and advise senior
leadership on gender equity issues.
Brody, who applauded the committee's efforts, said
that the university needs to commit itself to the goals
laid out in the report.
"And we need to get the entire university committed,"
Brody said. "All of us in leadership, starting with me,
have to embrace this report and lead the organization to
change the ways we offer this academic environment to all
members of the community."
In his talk, Brody challenged each division to
re-evaluate its promotion and tenure policies in order that
"more people come through the system and live their lives
how they would want." He also made a direct appeal to
department chairs and directors to immediately begin
seeking to achieve a 50-50 gender split in terms of faculty
As a model for success, he pointed to the gender
equity accomplishments in the Department of Medicine, which
set out in 1990 to transform its hiring practices and both
recruit and promote more women to faculty and leadership
positions. In just five years, the department witnessed a
550 percent increase in the number of women at the
associate professor rank, and one-half to two-thirds of
women faculty reported improvements in timeliness of
promotions and decreases in manifestations of gender bias.
Since that time, the School of Medicine has adopted the
department's hiring principles and in 2003 appointed its
100th female faculty member to the rank of full professor,
a milestone achievement among its peers.
"The School of Medicine is a very different
environment for women than it was in 1990," Brody said. "Is
it perfect? No. But it's a whole lot better than other
parts of the university in this area, and we can build on
The release of Vision 2020 coincides with similar
gender equity reports issued by the Association of American
Universities and the National Academy of Sciences, Fried
"Both these organizations offered findings that were
consistent with our own and called for recommendations that
are met by what we provide in our report," she said.
The University Committee on the Status of Women was
formed in 2002, replacing in effect a 13-year-old women's
advocacy group that had been led by the provost. The
president and provost charged the re-formed committee — made
up of faculty, staff and students, both women and men — with
studying the needs of women in the university community and
examining and making recommendations on such issues as
diversity, salary equity and advancement.
The committee, which met monthly for a three-year
period, consulted with experts in the field of gender
research, analyzed reports and conducted surveys and
extensive interviews with female students, staff and
In his final remarks, Brody encouraged the entire
university to read the report — available at
www.jhuaa.org/Sub/resource.asp — and act on it.
"These findings challenge all of us," Brody said. "I
can tell you that this is something we have to get right.
We can't be rehashing the same issues without measured