affirmative action

muriel lederman MLJAP at VTVM1.CC.VT.EDU
Wed Aug 11 14:02:51 EST 1993

To respond to two related postings.  I feel stronly that we should
adhere to the "official" definition of affirmative action, i.e. that if
(in situations where women are under-represented on faculty) two
applicants (one male and one female) are in contention for a position,
the woman gets the offer.  I was ona recent search and getting the head
of the search to committee to understand (in his gut) what this meant
was very difficult.  It helps to have a department head who is truly
committed to righting iniquities.
This is not to say that there should be any
problem making an offer to a woman who is the best qualified for the job.
The reason I feel leery about hiring an under-qualified woman is that, if
she doesn't do well, it turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy and makes it
harder to hire the next (qualified) woman.  (I have personally seen this
happen - a department said they'd hire a woman if she could walk and
chew gum at the same time.  She could, but she couldn't do research.  The
department hasn't hired a woman faculty, even under a woman head, in 15
years.)  WRT time off - our university offers one year off the tenure
clock for pregnancy.  Not sure if it's only for women.  This is a double-
edged sword.  In some departments here, women are afraid to take advantage
of this because it may seem to make their case for tenure weaker.
Muriel Lederman, Biology, VPI & SU

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