Who are we?
 Purpose  Statement 


2018 National Academy of Sciences Report of Sexual Harassment of Women

The CNS Women's Caucus

A Faculty Organization at the College of Natural Sciences

University of Massachusetts Amherst

How to contact us


Interesting Links & Documents
Who are we?

We are a Faculty Organization at CNS:

Caucus Founding Faculty:

Cynthia Baldwin (Veterinary and Animal Sciences)
Julie Brigham-Grette (Geosciences)
Daniela Calzetti (Astronomy)
Buju Dasgupta (Psychological and Brain Sciences)---Currently Associate Dean for Faculty Development--
Betsy Dumont (Biology) --moved to UC Davis, CA--
Elizabeth Jakob (Psychological and Brain Sciences)
Sue Leschine (Veterinary and Animal Sciences)  ---Emerita
Andrea R. Nahmod (Mathematics and Statistics)
Jennie Traschen (Physics)
Pat Vittum (Entomology)


Purpose Statement

During summer and Fall 2012 a group of women faculty in
CNS has met and discussed objectives and strategies of a Women’s Caucus, which we briefly outline here. The group proposes to work in coordination with existing mentoring groups, the Dean, and the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity in a problem-solving capacity, as well as in developing strategies that enable the advancement of women and minorities in science and mathematics.

Formation of CNS Women’s Caucus

Objectives: There are many levels at which the Caucus can function to support the advancement of women and minorities including acting as a sounding board, and serving in the role of ombuds-people or facilitators between faculty, staff, students and the College. The Caucus aims to establish best practice documents to reduce ambiguities in personnel issues including hiring, personnel reviews, and salary merit increases. In addition, we will encourage the establishment of educational sessions to educate faculty and administrators about the mechanisms of discrimination and to remind faculty and administration of their obligation to avoid prejudice based on gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disabilities.

Considerations: It will be necessary to interface with the Dean’s office, which we anticipate will be with Director of Faculty Equity and Inclusion Buju Dasgupta as well as with Dean Tricia Serio We will consult with EO&D regarding appropriate roles and which concerns will fall under mandated reporting.

Tiers of contributions:

I. Fire Brigade:
A group of senior CNS faculty who are ``on call” to meet with individual faculty members, especially women and minorities, to address immediate problems.
Justification: The focus is to fix situations that involve explicit or implicit bullying and other unacceptable forms of behavior that do not fall under the mission of EO&D. Women and minority faculty too often find themselves as targets of such behavior, which we recognize seriously impacts their research productivity and that undermines their status as equal rank citizens in the College. Currently these functions happen in an ad hoc manner, and the Women’s Caucus will function to share such important responsibilities in a measured way. This function will range from informal/transient mentoring to acting as a liaison between a faculty member (or student or staff) and the department or college administration.
Action: Determine who should comprise this group – sufficient numbers from across the College are needed, but we need to ensure that junior faculty are not at risk, and that we are speaking with a common voice.

II.  Best Practices: The Caucus will work to have “Best Practices and Community Standards XXX Department” documents established by each department so that the awarding of merit, nomination for honors and awards, and appointments to important committees will be according to clear criteria. We wish to ensure the following: these documents are publicized within each department and to the Dean’s Office; that merit scores and criteria based on Best Practice documents used by DPC are communicated to the faculty in a confidential and timely manner each year after review of the AFRs regardless of whether the current contract has been agreed upon and merit is available at that time (often this money comes years later); that a similar process takes place in the assignment of merit from additional pools (e.g. from the department head); that women and minorities are appropriately represented in positions of distinction and in important decision-making roles. There should also be a yearly refresher educational session for the DPC and CPCs regarding bias. An additional role will be to have a checklist to ensure that women and minorities are serving in leadership roles on important committees, and are not being asked to over-serve as ‘tokens’ on committees.

Justification: Faculty and DPCs are typically unaware of bias entering into these decisions. It is difficult to recognize bias in our own attitudes, and the majority population tends to make decisions that reproduce the status quo, honestly believing these decisions to be free of bias. The Best Practice documents and record keeping will put in place a framework of checks and balances to help ensure basic fairness, consistency, objectivity and record keeping (i.e. institutional memory) should questions of disparity or bias arise or become evident in the future. People in leadership positions can help the workplace climate by setting the standards of “good behavior” and making it clear that “bad behavior” is not acceptable in the academy.
Action: As a model for educational content, look to Hunter College CUNY, the Gender Equity Project  for educational materials and tutorials. Discuss with Associate Dean about putting these in place. Such actions would have to implemented by the CNS Dean through the Dept Heads committee.

III.  Other: Departmental Status, Salary equity, hiring policies, tenure, promotion, and other personnel actions. These issues will take years to repair, however the Caucus will be proscriptive in how to correct inequities in salary, hiring and personnel actions.

Justification: A recent seminar on campus discussing an NSF funded long-term project indicated that while such inequities can be corrected at universities, sustained vigilance is necessary to maintain the corrective action. Other studies have shown that while individuals do not necessarily have a specific prejudice against women, they tend to suggest men for keynote or high profile roles and thus presumably for raises and jobs. The continued existence of a gender-based pay gap is described in this article at the AAUW. A significant contribution to the difference in status between majority and minority populations is the incremental accumulation of advantage.
Action: Evaluate the recent study conducted of salaries in CNS for inequity percentage and develop a recommendation. While it is important to reward outstanding performance there should also be a guideline for the salary band within which some proportion (e.g. 80%) of faculty who consistently perform their duties and have similar rank and years are found: we would not expect their salaries to differ by more than very few percentage points (1-3%) as a consequence of merit increases. Part of the long term goal of the Caucus is to develop mechanisms and/or recruitment tools in conjunction with EO&D and the Dean’s office to ensure that more highly qualified women are hired /sought-after/recruited / retained. The College needs to create a level playing field for the of accumulation of advantage, including looking at bias in teaching scores, appointments to important committees, and nominations for distinctions at the University.

How to contact us

If you would like to talk to us about any issue please send an email to "womenscaucus@vasci.umass.edu

You may also email any one of us and add CNS Women Caucus in the title.

You may also try to reach us by phone through our webpages. 

   Lectures and Resources
        (I)  Nilanjana Dasgupta, Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences, UMass Amherst.
              First Annual CNS Women in Science Lecture:

              STEMming the Tide: How female experts and peers act as social vaccins for girls and women in STEM(click to watch video)
(II) Susan Metz, Senior Research Associate and Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Stevens Institute of Technology.  
Second Annual CNS Women in Science Lecture:
              Moving Beyond Fixing the Women to Changing the Culture in Academic STEM Fields. (Slides of Talk)

(III)  Priyamvada Natarajan, Professor of Astronomy and Physics, Yale University.

               Third Annual CNS Women in Science Lecture:  
               Gender Matters


Interesting Links and Documents
  •  From the Pew Research Center:

(New)   Gender discrimination comes in many forms for today’s working women

  •              From the New York Times:

                         Is the Professor Bossy or Brilliant? Much Depends on Gender:  
                         An interactive chart of words taken from millions of student reviews of their instructors offers a vivid
                          illustration of unconscious gender bias.  Play with Interactive Chart Here
                         How elementary school teachers biases can discourage girls from Math and Science
                         A New Study by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
                         See also Buju Dasgupta's first annual CNS WiS Lecture linked above.

                      The Simple Truth about the Pay Gap (2014)

Browse AAUW IssuesAdvocacyCampus,  Career and WorkplaceCommunityEducationLeadershipEconomic Justice.

2018 National Academy of Sciences Report on Sexual Harassment of Women.  (New)

Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine (CWSEM) 

Women in Science and Engineering Statistics

Gender Faculty Studies at Research 1 Institutions

Marcia McNutt,  Science Magazine’s Editor in Chief:  Leveling the Playing Field.(July 2013).

  • From    MIT:
A 1999 Study of the Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT  that brought about some positive changes.

A 2011 Follow up: 
A Report on the Status of Women Faculty on the School of Sciences and Engeneering at MIT, 2011 FINAL FORMATTED MIT Report 3_18_11 11-45pm