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Presidential Commission on the Status of Women

The group leading efforts to promote gender equity on campus.

The Presidential Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) at the University of Utah wants to connect with you.

Since 1995, PCSW has been tasked with providing leadership and expertise to the U community when it comes to promoting university women in their various roles and activities, and to serve as a forum for the exchange of ideas within the university. Under the leadership of various faculty and staff chairpersons, PCSW has helped develop policies on tenure-line faculty parental leave, part-time tenure, and partner benefits, administered the Linda K. Amos Award for Distinguished Service to Women and implemented various programming and initiatives through the Edie Kochenour Memorial Event and the Childcare Advisory Board.

In time, the focus of PCSW has changed to meet the areas of greatest need for the U community. It is now part of One U Thriving, an initiative led by Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) which seeks to ensure everyone in the U community feels a sense of belonging and has a voice to help bring about racial healing and transformation, respond to racist and bias incidents and help shape a campus that is anti-racist, diverse, inclusive, accessible and equitable.

“In recent years—and under the leadership of former President Ruth Watkins—we’ve seen an increase in the number of university organizations focused on women and gender,” said Ruchi Watson, managing director of the Goff Strategic Leadership Center, assistant professor in the Department of Entrepreneurship & Strategy and co-chair of PCSW.  “Because of that, the role of PCSW has shifted to become one of an advocate, catalyst and convener.”

To that end, PCSW has been a part of several initiatives, including the Career Line Faculty Parental Leave Task Force, the Utah Women in Higher Education (UWHEN) State Board of Representatives, the creation of a new University of Utah Chapter of UWHEN, the One U Childcare Task Force, Women’s Week and the Edie Kochenour Memorial Event Committee.

Additionally, “PCSW has identified pay equity as a campus-wide focus, working with university Human Resources, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and School of Medicine representatives, and requesting input from the Council of Academic Deans on ways to thoughtfully approach this important topic,” said Mary Elizabeth Hartnett, distinguished professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, director of Women’s Eye Health and co-chair of PCSW. “PCSW wants to be an umbrella for women’s organizations across campus with a goal to help groups raise awareness of their important efforts and acknowledge the leaders in these individual groups.”

As a means of understanding how to further advance its role as a catalyst and advocate, PCSW has recently initiated a survey to better understand gender equity/women’s initiatives already taking place on the U’s campus.

If you are engaged in work with gender/women at the U, you are encouraged to complete the survey here.

“We want to thank the more than 100 individuals who have engaged with the survey thus far and we look forward to hearing from others on campus,” said Watson. “Gathering this information is an important step as we work to make an honest, clear-eyed assessment and develop a strategic plan to advance the status of women at the U.”