Charge to the Task Force on the Status of Women Faculty

The mission of Brown University is to serve the community, the nation and the world by discovering, communicating and preserving knowledge and understanding in a spirit of free inquiry, and by educating and preparing students to discharge the offices of life with usefulness and reputation. To advance Brown’s mission of education and research, it is essential that Brown cultivates a diverse and talented faculty that serves its students and the broader community. It is equally important that all faculty members have access to the resources and opportunities they need to be successful teachers and scholars without regard to sex or gender identity. 

Although these goals are clear, Brown should periodically assess what progress has been made to achieve them. The most recent annual report on Brown’s Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP) indicates that women tenure-track faculty remain a minority in several fields, even in disciplines in which the majority of graduating PhDs are women. In some fields, the percentage of women faculty has remained constant or even declined since the DIAP was launched in 2016. Multiple national studies continue to document gender disparities in academia across the country. Although the demands of managing work and family responsibilities are difficult for many faculty members, over the past 18 months the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the challenges that women faculty have historically faced.

The Task Force on the Status of Women Faculty is charged with assessing any disparities in opportunities and outcomes between similarly situated women and men on the Brown faculty, and subsequently making recommendations to the President and Provost for changes that advance the University’s mission of education and research.  

The Task Force will:

  1. Document and analyze data on whether there are any gender differences in responsibilities, opportunities and outcomes available to Brown faculty. Responsibilities include, but are not limited to, commitments such as teaching, advising loads, and service on various departmental and university committees. Outcomes include all aspects of recruitment, hiring, retention and promotion.
  2. Conduct a benchmarking analysis with data from Brown and other major research universities in the United States.
  3. Evaluate peer institutions’ recruiting and hiring practices and recommend best practices for Brown to consider implementing.
  4. Review results of a third-party consultant’s review that is currently underway assessing whether there are any statistically significant gender differences in regular faculty compensation (tenure-track, tenure, and lecturers).
  5. Review results of an internal assessment of space allocation (e.g. research labs) to determine if there are any statistically significant differences in space assigned to regular faculty based on gender.
  6. Update the Committee on Faculty Equity and Diversity and the Faculty Executive Committee periodically throughout the work of the Task Force.
  7. Share and discuss data and preliminary conclusions at the Chairs and Directors meeting and the university faculty meeting prior to submitting final recommendations to the President and Provost.
  8. Make recommendations on changes Brown could make to its policies, procedures and programs to achieve the goals of equal opportunity and affirmative action in faculty employment.  

This report will focus primarily on tenure-track/tenured faculty. However, to the extent possible given sample sizes, data should be developed and analyzed for Research Faculty, Lecturers, Senior Lecturers and Distinguished Lecturers. This will complement the review of non-tenure-track faculty that CFED is planning for the coming year. The Task Force may also consider gender differences in practices associated with transitioning faculty from research-track to tenure-track positions.

Updates from the Task Force

To share your thoughts and experiences with the Task Force, contact [email protected] or use this anonymous Google form


Task Force Membership

  • Diane Lipscombe (chair), Thomas J. Watson, Sr. Professor of Science, Professor of Neuroscience, Reliance Dhirubhai Ambani Director of the Robert J. and Nancy D. Carney Institute for Brain Science
  • Anna Aizer, Professor of Economics
  • Elissavet Amanatidou, Distinguished Senior Lecturer in Classics and Director of Modern Greek Studies
  • Laurel Bestock, Associate Professor of Archaeology and the Ancient World and Egyptology and Assyriology, Associate Professor of History of Art and Architecture
  • Janet Blume, Deputy Dean of the Faculty, Chair of Sociology and Associate Professor of Engineering
  • Prudence Carter, Sarah and Joseph Jr. Dowling Professor of Sociology
  • Elizabeth Doherty, Deputy Provost for Academic Affairs
  • Danielle Holley-Walker, Academic Affiliate
  • Meredith Hastings, Professor of Environment and Society and Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences and Deputy Director of the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society
  • Riki Heck, Professor of Philosophy
  • Rose McDermott, David and Marianna Fisher University Professor of International Relations
  • Meenakshi Narain, Professor of Physics
  • Jill Pipher, Elisha Benjamin Professor of Mathematics and Vice President for Research
  • Sohini Ramachandran, Professor of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology and Computer Science and Director of the Data Science Initiative
  • Björn Sandstede, Chair of Applied Mathematics and Professor of Applied Mathematics

Ex Officio

  • Sylvia Carey-Butler, Vice President for Institutional Equity and Diversity.

Committee Staff

  • Kristin Webster, Research Development & Support Specialist