Back to Minutes Page
Senate ad hoc
Committee for the Support and
Advancement of Women at Pitt
January 8, 2005 Minutes
- Those attending were Patty Beeson, Sherry Miller Brown,
Lisa Brush, Heidi Feldman, B. Jean Ferketish, Pat Friedman, Irene Frieze,
Megan Kilpatrick, Randi Koeski, Consuella Lewis, Maureen Porter, Ellen
Olshansky, Josephine Olson, Lorie Osho, Ann Ostroski, Lisa Parker, Esther
Sales, Emily Schweiger, Amy Wagner.
Each person briefly introduced herself.
2. Minutes of the November 22, 2004 meeting were
approved and will be posted on the committee website.
- See Committee website at http://www.pitt.edu/~frieze/senateplenary.html
for information about our Senate ad hoc Committee. Irene Frieze suggested that we might
want to post subcommittee reports on the website.
- Emily Schwieger, President of the Campus Women’s
Organization (CWO), discussed some of the activities of CWO. On February 17-19, they will be
presenting the Vagina Monologues, which is open to the public. About 300 people are on their mailing
list and normally about 40 people attend meetings, although this
varies. Activities are funded from allocations
from Student Government Board.
- Pat Friedman of the Health Sciences Library
announced that the National Library of Medicine will be bringing an
exhibit on women in medicine to Pitt sometime in the next few years. The exact date is not yet known. For more information about the exhibit,
see http://www.nlm.nih.gov . When the exhibit comes to Pitt, our
committee will be involved in helping to organize a series of related
- Maureen Porter reported that CMU’s campus women’s
organization will again be hosting their annual conference on women’s
issues, called MOSAIC, on Sunday, February 20. Gloria Steinem will be the keynote
speaker. Maureen is organizing a
panel and asked for volunteers to join her on the panel.
4. Report from the Mentoring Committee. Chairs are Heidi Feldman and Ellen
Olshansky. Other members are Sherry
Brown, Consuella Lewis, Ann Ostroski and Amy Wagner.
- Heidi Feldman presented a power point presentation,
prepared by Ann Ostroski, and edited by the committee. The presentation included definitions
of mentoring, and some of the requirements for good mentoring. The Committee feels that there should be
a stronger institutional commitment to mentoring of faculty, students, and
staff. Better mentoring can be
evaluated and should result in a lessened gender gap in institutional
success and satisfaction. The
presentation included a brief overview of some of the existing mentoring
programs at Pitt. A copy of the
presentation will be made available to members of the Senate women’s
- The Committee was thanked for all their hard work
and excellent ideas. A lively
discussion followed the presentation.
- Irene Frieze asked about definitions of mentoring
and asked if it was really necessary that all the of mentoring functions
identified by the Committee be done by the same person.
- Randi Koeske described a mentoring program for
undergraduates that she has been involved with and pointed out that in
this program, a group of people was available to provide needed
mentoring. Sometimes, it works
better to let several people share mentoring responsibilities rather than
asking one person to do everything.
- Consuella Lewis argued that anyone involved in a
leadership role needs to be accountable for mentoring.
- Ellen Olshansky pointed out that the Committee is
suggesting that we need to expand our ideas about how institutional
success is defined. These new
definitions need to be incorporated into the evaluation process.
- Irene Frieze suggested that issues involved in
mentoring may be different for faculty, for students, and for staff. She described some failures in
instituting mentoring programs in the Department of Psychology.
- Patty Beeson described some mentoring activities
in the Economics Department for faculty.
She feels that important mentoring functions can be done by
advisors, especially for undergraduates, and mentioned that the Psychology
Advising office does a good job of this.
She also argued that often successful mentoring is one-on-one and
is not a formal program.
- Heidi Feldman said that in her experience, people
who are assigned as advisors can eventually become mentors, but this does
not always happen. It is important
that mentoring relationships be reciprocal and lateral.
- Maureen Porter pointed out that even though the
Committee was arguing for lateral mentor-protégée relationships, most of
the presentation was on responsibilities of mentors and benefits to
protégées. Perhaps we need to think
more about the benefits to the mentors?
- Ellen Olshansky argued that we do need an
infrastructure to support mentoring activities. Training and other benefits to mentors
such as released time were included in the Committee report.
- Maureen Porter pointed out that sometimes
specific types of mentoring are needed for a short period and that
mentor-protégée relationships do not have to be long term. Sometimes the ideal mentor is someone
in a different field, while at other times it should be someone in the
same field as the person.
- Heidi Feldman argued strongly that the individual
should not have to ask for mentoring.
It should be provided for everyone, and the institution should
ensure that this happens.
- Jean Ferketish pointed out that matching between
mentors and protégées depends on chemistry, something like a blind
date. Often other people at the
institution help in suggesting possible matches.
- Lisa Brush described a matching program developed
by her professional organization, the Sociologists for Women in Society,
where people attending meetings for the first time are matched with “old
timers.” There is also a more long
term, formal program where junior faculty are matched with an established
person in the field to help them work on publication of their work. She further suggested that perhaps our
committee can serve a mentoring function and can match mentors and
- Members of the Mentoring Committee expressed
concern about this idea and pointed out that we would not have
institutional support for doing this.
- Lisa Brush asked if the type of long term
extensive mentoring activity proposed by the Committee could really be
done effectively as a formal institutional policy.
- Irene Frieze asked if we wanted to continue the discussion
past our usual ending time.
Committee members decided to ask the Mentoring Committee to
consider the feedback and to continue to develop their ideas.
- Consuella Lewis suggested that one thing the
Committee can look into is what the current institutional expectations are
- Esther Sales asked that the Committee consider in
more detail what types of mentoring programs are now being conducted and
to do some informal evaluations of these.
- Ann Ostroski pointed out that she had been doing
some research on mentoring programs at other schools and provided us with
some handouts about this.
- Jean Ferketish volunteered to have students in
her class help in examining current mentoring programs at other
institutions, as part of a benchmarking assignment. They will prepare a report on this in
consultation with the Committee.
She pointed out that no matter how good the goals and design, the
most difficult part of any program is the implementation.
5. A brief report was made about other sub-Committee
Harrassment Committee [Randi Koeske, Lorie Osho, and Irene Frieze] are
continuing to work on the web-based training for sexual harassment, as well as
Lisa Parker has
volunteered to work on developing a new policy for consensual relations between
faculty and students. She would like
others to work with her.
reported on a committee looking into developing a fund for the support of women
and women’s projects. Kathryn Flannery
(Women’s Studies Program), Irene Frieze and Kathie Wisner will work with her on
6. Plans for future meetings? After some discussion we decided that we
should have a meeting of the whole committee in early March. The subcommittees will be meeting before
Committee Liaisons and Advisors
- B. Jean Ferketish. Chancellor’s Office
- Patricia Beeson. Provost’s Office and PACWC
- Kit Ayars.
- Barbara Barnes.
Center for Continuing Education in Health Sciences.
- Paula Davis.
- Kathryn Flannery. Women’s Studies Program
- Ann Ostroski.
Schweiger. Campus Women’s Organization.
- Jen Stephan.
Pitt News columnist.
Submitted by Josephine Olson
[with the assistance of Irene Frieze]