Can we talk?: A frank discussion about gender equity and leadership in online higher education
Concurrent Session 6
Well-prepared senior leaders in online higher education are more needed than ever. Many emerging leaders in the field are women, yet women are generally underrepresented in senior leadership roles in academe, largely due to gender bias. Join us for an open discussion regarding men and women working together to address gender bias and leadership in online higher education.
The need for well-prepared senior leaders in online higher education has never been greater, and the pool of emerging leaders in this field continues to grow. While many emerging online leaders are women, they will continue to be underrepresented in the highest leadership roles for many years to come unless institutions become more intentional in creating structures and policies to achieve gender equality at this level.
There is no shortage of women in the academic pipeline—women earn more degrees at all levels than men—but they tend to hold more entry-level, teaching-only and service positions than their male counterparts (ACE, 2016). Additionally, the metaphor of the glass ceiling, or systemic barriers to attaining senior leadership positions, still holds true, especially for women of color. This is evidenced by a significant pay gap between men and women of similar academic rank, and the fact that men are more likely than women to be on a tenure track (ACE, 2016). Studies also show that women are as likely as men to make gender-biased judgments, which may be rooted in certain cultural factors(ACE, 2016).
It has been argued that pervasive gender bias, which is often unconscious and/or unintentional, is the most significant barrier to women advancing to senior leadership roles. How can we, as a community of online educators, raise awareness of this important issue? Most importantly, how can we help our institutions to more effectively address gender bias to increase the number of senior women leaders, including women of color?
In this session, we will discuss some of the tensions and barriers to open, honest dialogue between male and female colleagues about the issue of gender bias as an impediment to senior women leaders. We will provide personal examples of difficult situations and discussions related to unconscious and/or unintentional gender bias, and encourage session participants to share their experiences via a question-and-answer format. Additionally, we will provide examples of institutional initiatives, structures, and policies designed to systemically counteract gender bias, and invite participants to share their own examples and suggestions. Key takeaways from the session will include heightened awareness and understanding of communication barriers between women and men regarding gender bias; increased ability to recognize and respond to unconscious and/or unintentional gender bias against women leaders, and a better understanding of institutional structures, policies and initiatives to counteract gender bias and increase the number of women in senior leadership positions in online higher education.