Toward an Equitable Distribution of Gender in Academia

Tanuja Singh, dean and professor at St. Mary's University Greehey School of Business, discusses progress and continued efforts toward an equitable distribution of gender in academia.


Toward an Equitable Distribution of Gender in Academia

Christine Clements: [00:17] A number of deans and administrators talk about the challenges in recruiting women, maintaining women, challenges women face in business schools. What do you think are some of the major challenges? Do you have thoughts about the best ways or the opportunities to meet those challenges?

Tanuja Singh: [00:30] I've always been a big advocate for creating diversity in all its forms, whether it's through gender, whether it's through ethnicity, whatever. People don't realize. They see more women at these conferences.

[00:43] They don't realize that while we have made tremendous progress, we are still quite a ways from accomplishing what I would call an equitable distribution of gender in the academy.

[00:55] One of the things, we see a lot of women coming through the ranks. We see a lot of chairs. We see a lot of associate deans, directors. I think it's important for deans, whether they are men or women, to be able to sponsor and mentor these future leaders.

[01:10] Take that opportunity and say, "I'm going to nominate you for the aspiring dean conference," or, "You ought to go, and go to this conference and learn about some of these strategies." This is a great job. This is a fantastic job. I love what I do.

[01:25] I think we need more women, but that challenge still remains. It needs an active strategy. It's not just something that's going to happen organically. You need to be asking yourself, "How might I create the next generation of leaders? How might I encourage women to be able to take these roles?"

[01:46] While they might say, "I don't want to do this," once they come to these conferences, they see what an incredible opportunity it is to be able to make a difference in the lives of people they care about anyway. When you're a dean, you have the ability to implement some of those great ideas that you've been thinking about as a department chair, as an associate dean, or a director.

[02:06] That is a great opportunity, but it has to be active. It has to be mindful. You have to implement it. You have to support it with resources.

Clements: [02:15] I wonder if you have any thoughts about what you think AACSB should be doing, or might additionally be doing to be more supportive in this area?

Singh: [02:24] I believe to showcase some of the progression. Imagine if you had someone who started out as a chair which is something I did or a director, and then see the progression and what they say about the opportunities, about leadership roles within AACSB. AACSB is doing a much better job of having women in leadership position in those committees.

[02:45] I asked my other fellow deans to nominate people for those important committees. The more visible you are, the more it's likely that somebody will reach out to you and say, "Have you considered that particular dean role?" I think it's important for women, but also our male colleagues to say, "We do need to see more diversity." Take that opportunity.

Filmed September 2016 on site at the Annual Accreditation Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota.