Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and, therefore, also half of its potential. But, today, gender inequality persists everywhere and stagnates social progress. Inequalities faced by girls can begin right at birth and follow them all their lives and women continue to be underrepresented in political leadership. While we have made some progress, the promise of a world in which every woman and girl enjoys full gender equality, and where all legal, social and economic barriers to their empowerment have been removed, remains unfulfilled.
Sustainable Development Goal #5 explores how by advancing gender equality is critical to all areas of a healthy society, from reducing poverty to promoting the health, education, protection and the well-being of girls and boys. At the University of Minnesota, we are committed to addressing unconscious bias, increasing the number of women in leadership positions and involved with committees and advocating for changing harmful laws that limit the rights of women and girls and prevent them from achieving their full potential.
RESEARCH AND EXPERTISE
OUTREACH AND PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT
Public Events Celebrating and Encouraging Female Leadership and Career Success
The Women Innovators Conference is an annual professional development summit designed to help women innovators connect the dots between their ideas and a positive, significant impact. It was specifically created to inspire early-career professionals, faculty, postdocs, research staff, and students.
The Celebration of Women in Computing at the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD) brought together students, faculty, and computing professionals to share experiences and strategies for recruiting and retaining women in computing fields, and explore issues common to women working in these fields. This celebration is part of a nationwide effort to address the alarming decline of women choosing computer science professions.
As part of the Carlson School of Management’s MN Cup, the 2022 Women In Entrepreneurship Series offered a week of virtual programming centering on the unique experiences and challenges of women, female-identifying, LGBTQIA+ and non-binary people that culminated with the Power of 100 MSP Showcase which offered crowdsourced funding to presenting companies.
In 2021, the College of Biological Sciences celebrated International Day of Women and Girls in Science Day with a series of events highlighting women in stem and in 2022, they continued to highlight the role of women in science with SciSPARK 2022.
September is Women in Medicine Month. The Medical School Center for Women in Medicine and Science (CWIMS) often celebrates the month by spotlighting female faculty in the Medical School through a series of events and social media highlights.
The National Women's Studies Association leads the field of women’s studies in educational and social transformation. Their annual conference regularly draws over 2,200 attendees and is the only annual meeting in the US exclusively dedicated to showcasing the latest feminist scholarship. In 2022, the conference took place in Minneapolis and included several roundtables and presentations that included UMN faculty and students.
Programs Focused on Empowering Female Leaders in the Broader Community
100 Rural Women is a non-profit organization focused on building a future where more rural women lead positive change for themselves, their families and communities, the nation and the world. Among organizations sponsors and partners are University of Minnesota-Morris, UMN Extension’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, and the UMN Center for Urban and Regional Affairs who are committed to helping the organization build leadership through networks, mentorship, education and civic engagement.
Women in Business is a student organization at the Carlson School of Management that is dedicated to bringing together business professionals and students of all majors and all backgrounds to network and learn about pertinent topics within business. The group holds speaker meetings, has monthly volunteer and social events, and hosts two signature networking events per year.
In spring 2022, the UMN Alumni Association partnered with the Women’s Center on a three-part series geared to providing information and knowledge to empower women to understand the gender pay gap, strategies for self-advocacy, and navigating how to make a successful appeal for a salary increase. The Women in Power Series was open to all alumni across all colleges, functional areas, and industries and featured three sessions focused on overcoming barriers and boosting mid-and-late-career professionals.
Programs Focused on Creating a Welcoming Space for the LGBTQIA+ Community
The Gender and Sexuality Center for Queer and Trans Life (GSC) serves students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, asexual, allies and many other gender and sexual orientation-creative identities. Their work centers on four fundamental tenets; education, advocacy, outreach & support. They collaborate with academic departments, implement institutional policies and practices and support student development to ensure our students not only receive academic support, but find community support from the time they enroll for their first semester to when they graduate.
Sexuality & Gender Equity Initiatives works to empower UMD’s queer and trans+ students in their academic and personal endeavors, equip aspiring allies with vital skills to support queer and trans+/gender non-conforming individuals, and collaborate with campus and community partners to strive for an improved and affirming climate for all queer and trans+/gender non-conforming individuals.
As part of its work to incorporate equity, culture and diversity into its programming, UMN Extension’s Youth Development group has developed a variety of tools and resources to help those involved with youth development programs provide equitable spaces and other opportunities to support LGBTQ+ youth.
EDUCATION AND STUDENTS
UMN POLICIES AND ADMINISTRATION
University Initiatives Focusing on Female Faculty Success
The Women’s Faculty Cabinet is focused on improving and enriching the academic and professional environments for women faculty and to ensure that the University continues and strengthens its commitment to the success of its women faculty members. As part of this effort the cabinet: recommends guidelines and policies to the Provost, Faculty Senate, Deans, and Departments on issues affecting women, gender equity, and campus life, undertake research important to the working and living environment for women-identified faculty, and sponsor activities such as workshops, forums, and retreats to improve equity, diversity, and overall campus life for everyone at the UMN.
The Artemisia Leadership Initiative in the College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences inspires and empowers female scientists and strengthens overall capacity to respond to future challenges in food, agriculture and natural resources by addressing gender-based barriers and improving leadership skills. The Initiative launched in 2017 and includes seminars, mentoring circles and workshops.
University Initiatives Focusing on Female Student Success
The UMD's Women's Resource and Action Center seeks to provide all students support and encouragement on the Duluth campus. The Center works to empower students, both individually and collectively, through the provision of a wide variety of services and resources.
Women Invested in Leadership and Learning (W.I.L.L.) is a partnership between the University of Minnesota, Schwan's Corporate Giving Foundation, and the Schwan's Company that works to empower student-athletes by aligning leadership-based skills training with mentor engagement to promote leadership awareness, aptitude, and development. Since its inception in 2014, W.I.L.L. has grown each year and now supports the personal development of approximately 300 female student-athletes representing all twelve women's programs at the University.
The College of Science and Engineering supports women by fostering an inclusive community and sponsoring a variety of programs to help ensure female student success. One example is the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Initiative which hosts guest speakers, panel discussions, and workshops on topics such as leadership, research opportunities, mental health and wellness, financial planning, and building a personal brand.
Originally established on the UMD campus in 1981, the Commission for Women refined their mission and goals in 2019 to ensure they were continuing to address the needs for a contemporary UMD population. With a new 2020 Strategic Plan in place, the commission is focused on planning activities on various topics of interest, networking and mentoring opportunities and making grants available for women to further their education and growth.
Gender and Sexual Identity Related Training Opportunities for UMN Faculty and Staff
The Equity and Diversity Certificate, which is sponsored by the Office for Equity and Diversity, helps participants develop tools necessary for advancing equity and diversity in all aspects of their personal and professional lives. It's free of charge and open to student, faculty, and staff on all University campuses. The full certificate requires the completion of 10 program workshops, including one on 2SLGBTQIA+ Identities and Communities and one on Understanding and Addressing Gender-Based Oppression.
The Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC) offers a broad spectrum of education, training opportunities, and resources to help University faculty, staff and students learn more about LGBTQIA identities & the intersections across gender identity, race, class, disability, and faith.
The UMN Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health program is an internal K12 grant mechanism from the National Institutes of Health Office of Research on Women’s Health that fosters mentored research career development of junior faculty of either gender who are engaged in interdisciplinary women’s health or sex differences research.
Successful University-Based Mentoring Schemes for Women
The Women in Technology (WIT) mentorship program, launched in 2017, matches mentee and mentor applicants together twice a year, in fall and spring cohorts. Matched pairs are given standard guidelines, as well as the freedom to adapt their mentor/mentee relationship to the format that suits them best.
The University chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) is part of a national organization with over 35,000 members. The goal of the SWE is to empower women to achieve their full potential in careers as engineers and leaders, expand the image of the engineering and technology professions as a positive force in improving the quality of life, and demonstrate the value of diversity and inclusion. Their mentoring program includes two levels: a professional mentorship focused on pairing underclassmen with working professional and a collegiate mentorship that organizes students into groups based on their major and interests.
Since the 1990s, the UMN Alumni Association’s collegiate mentor programs have matched more than 16,000 students with UMN alumni and friends. Specific mentor programs are managed within participating collegiate units and their alumni societies.
Influencing Local, State and National Gender Equality Policies
The Gender Policy Report is a non-partisan, multidisciplinary effort to produce and disseminate timely, gender-focused analyses of emerging U.S. federal policy proposals and developments that seeks to inform policy debates and improve public discourse. Contributions of the Gender Policy Report clarify the gendered bases of policy practices and conflicts and offer diverse public audiences informed perspectives on how policies matter for gender equality, gender equity and constructions of gender itself.
The Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport is an interdisciplinary research center leading a global effort to accelerate change for girls and women in sport and physical activity and their families and communities. As part of their advocacy work, the center sponsors a Distinguished Lecture Series in which nationally recognized scholars and educators share their findings and insights with policymakers, students, and families.
The Center on Women, Gender, and Public Policy offers educational opportunities for Humphrey School of Public Affairs students and the broader community. By drawing on the strengths of the Humphrey School, an engaged alumni network, and faculty affiliates across the University, the Center delivers course content, specialized training, and public events that address gender policy issues at the local, national, and global levels.
The Institute for Sexual and Gender Health (ISGH) is one of the largest clinical, teaching, and research institutions in the world specializing in human sexuality. Institute faculty regularly work with national and international groups to develop strategies to promote sexual and gender health, responsible sexual behavior, and to increase awareness of scientific-based factors to improve sexual health including comprehensive sexuality education. In 2022, Institute faculty participated on committees to help draft 8th revision of the Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Non-conforming People for the World Professional Association for Transgender Health committees.
The University of Minnesota has a number of systemwide non-discrimination policies related to gender equality which are related to the overarching Board of Regents Policy on Equity, Diversity, Equal Opportunity, and Affirmative Action policy which was adopted in 1995 and last amended in 2018. The Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action office is a unit in Office for Equity and Diversity maintains an updated list of these policies, FAQs related to them as well as expired policies.
Policies Related to Maternity and Paternity and Leave and Related Workplace Accommodations
The University provides parental leave for eligible employees related to the birth, adoption, or gestational surrogacy of children in accordance with Minnesota statutes and the provisions of the policy. Parental leave provided by this policy is available to an employee on 50% appointment or greater. In 2018, updates were made to the policy, so that now both parents, who meet eligibility requirements, with six weeks paid leave; expanded coverage to include gestational surrogacy and removed the nine-month employee eligibility requirement.
The University of Minnesota has a policy regarding providing reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, lactation and other related medical conditions. In support of this policy, all UMN campus (Twin Cities, Morris, Crookston, Duluth, Rochester) have dedicated lactation rooms.
Accessible Childcare Facilities for Students and Staff
The Family Resources section of the UMN Employment Benefits page includes several recommendations for on-campus childcare as well as information on setting up a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account to help pay for eligible out-of-pocket dependent daycare expenses.
The Student Parent Help Center (SPHC) is the longest standing, student parent program in the nation. For more than six decades, the SPHC has been assisting hundreds of mothers and fathers in achieving their dream of a college degree. The SPHC website includes a number of family centered resources including information on campus childcare options and in the surrounding community.
The UMN Child Development Laboratory School (CDLS) in the Institute of Child Development, is an early development model and demonstration program whose practices are guided by current research in child development. The program serves as the primary training site for teacher candidates in early childhood programs and is an active center for observation and research focused on early development, education, and high-quality care and education for young children. The full day program is only open to the children of UMN students, staff and faculty.
The Morris Area Child Care Center provides group and individualized care, which stimulates growth through self-directed and guided activities. In a collaboration between UMN-Morris and the West Wind Village, the Center offers an opportunity for the very young and senior Morris residents’ to enjoy and learn from each other via intergenerational events.
Systems in Place for Reporting Sexual Misconduct and Discrimination and Related Retaliation
In accordance with Title IX, the University has a detailed policy in place related to the reporting of and response to acts of sexual discrimination and misconduct. This policy includes several supportive measures and privacy and confidentiality measures.
The Conflict Resolution for Faculty, P&A, Civil Service, and Student Workers policy sets out several options for UMN employees to report workplace conflicts. Included in this policy are specific policies related to retaliation.
The University’s Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action unit within the Office for Equity and Diversity provides detailed information and options for reporting various types of misconduct at all UMN campuses. Significantly, they also include options for anonymous reporting and external reporting.
Women’s Grad Rates (Gap and Improvement)
Unlike many Universities around the globe, the University of Minnesota has already reached gender parity in regard to female enrollment and graduation rates. However, in some cases individual units have programs in place focusing on increasing female enrollment and success—especially those with that have traditionally had lower female participation. A few of them are highlighted below:
The Carlson School of Management school administrators have been involved in a years-long effort to attract, and retain, more female students. During the 2011-12 school year, 1,789 female undergraduate students were enrolled in the school compared to about 2,500 women during the 2021-22 school year, an increase of about 39% over a decade.
In an effort to attract more female students, staff in the Department of Economics created a pilot program to support female students and create a sense of community. The year-long pilot program included mentoring, leadership development, and career exploration. In its inaugural year, the pilot program included 16 students, selected through a competitive application process.
In 2020, SPHC released a retrospective study on the academic outcomes of undergraduate student parents that had interacted with their center. The results of the study, one of the first comprehensive, mixed- methods, third-party evaluations of a student parent program conducted, are not only be used to help inform future SPHC programming but also have far-ranging insights for other institutions and professionals wishing to serve student parents.