University of Illinois System

Gender Inclusive Leadership Council

The Gender Inclusive Leadership Project was established to provide input and strategic guidance for system-wide efforts to advance women, women of color, and LGBTQ+ individuals in leadership. President Killeen and Executive Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs Avijit Ghosh appointed a presidential fellow, Professor Wendy Heller, to work with Senior Assistant Vice President for Academic Initiatives and Policies Sarah Zehr Gantz to coordinate across universities to develop pathways to support underrecognized leaders. To better understand the challenges and opportunities associated with gender inequity in leadership, the Gender Inclusive Leadership Council (GILC) was charged in Fall 2022 with providing input on systemic barriers to gender equity across the University of Illinois System.

Members of the Gender Inclusive Leadership Council

28 members of various identities and affiliations from across the system committed to participate. View member bios.

Timeline and Meeting Record

May 20, 2022: Inaugural meeting

May 20, 2022: Inaugural meeting with President Killeen

First meeting of the GILC Sept. 27, 2022

Meeting Objectives

  1. Welcome and Introductions
  2. Discuss and establish the Group Agreement
  3. What does inclusion look like?
  4. Looking ahead
Time Topic/Discussion Item
10 min Introductions and review of summer work
5 min Introduce Group Agreement
30 min Discuss: Modifications of Group Agreement
10 min Discuss: What does Inclusion look like for you?
5 min Preview for meeting 2: Priorities

Prework - please prepare with the following:

  1. Read and review the attached group agreement, come ready with items to add or modify
  2. Think about environments in which you felt included or excluded

GILC meeting Dec. 19, 2022

Meeting Objectives

  1. Review results of survey
  2. Discussion of topics in breakout groups
  3. Review and discuss group work
Time Topic/Discussion Item
20 min Greeting and Review of Survey Results
20 min Topical breakout groups
20 min Reconvene and Review

GILC meeting Feb. 21, 2023

Meeting Objectives

  1. Create a gender inclusive action plan with specific goals and deadlines
  2. Review and discuss group work
  3. Evaluate next steps
Time Topic/Discussion Item
10 min Greetings and brief review
30 min Breakout group work: Information for action items
20 min Reconvene and Review

GILC meeting March 24, 2023

Meeting Objectives

  1. Establish agenda for this and following meetings
  2. Deeper look at Topic 1: Methods to target EOs and senior leadership
  3. Review group ideas for Topic 1
Time Topic/Discussion Item
10 min Greetings and overview for next meetings
10 min Brief review of previous discussion
20 min Breakout groups: alternative solutions to target EOs
20 min Reconvene and review group ideas

GILC meeting April 25, 2023

Meeting Objectives

  1. Deeper look at Topic 2: System-Wide change
  2. Deeper look at Topic 3: Creating new opportunities
  3. Review group ideas for topics
Time Topic/Discussion Item
5 min Greetings and overview
15-20 min System-wide change discussion
15-20 min Creating new opportunities discussion
15 min Semester wrap-up and next steps

2023 - 2024

  • Summer 2023: small group planning for leadership initiatives
  • Fall 2023: Pilot first leadership initiative (ILI)
  • GILC meeting Jan 9, 2024
  • Spring 2024: Piloting second leadership initiative (ILSP)

Summary of GILC Work

  • Assembled & inventoried existing resources for underrecognized leaders
  • Identified and outlined obstacles and inequities
    • Pay inequity
    • Racism, sexism, and cronyism
    • Access to professional development
    • Disparate expectations for performance and service
    • Lack of attention to nontraditional scholarship
    • Stigma and lack of access for mental and gender affirming medical care
    • Under-recognition of bias/ microaggressions from executive officers
    • Lack of accountability/ reflection
    • Lack of resources  to support leadership roles
    • Lack of onboarding
  • Identified several key areas as potential paths for improvement
    • Target executive officers and senior leadership
    • System-wide change
    • Creation of new opportunities

Key Recommendations and Proposals

The GILC identified a gap in the landscape of existing programming designed to target underrecognized faculty as well as the role of current faculty in leadership in promoting underrecognized faculty. While there are many DEI focused trainings focused on promotion and tenure, search committees, and leadership in general, no program exists that focuses specifically on underrecognized leaders.

Two leadership development initiatives were proposed based on GILC discussions

These proposed programs capitalize on the experience and knowledge of current and aspiring faculty leaders and leverage that experience to support and empower underrecognized faculty. These proposals emerge from our year-long, cross-campus effort as described above, with diverse representation from those who are involved in and impacted by faculty leadership.

Recommendation #1: Equip under-recognized academic leaders with opportunities and tangible support

  • Establish an Inclusive Leaders Sponsorship Program (ILSP)
  • Cohort approach with multiple sessions of regular programming targeting under-recognized leaders
  • Includes leadership development, opportunities, and resources
  • Especially focused on fostering and promoting the success of underrepresented or underrecognized candidates
  • Includes groups that will allow members of similar or different affinity groups to share perspective and experiences
  • Participants will be matched with a sponsor to ensure support is sustained

Recommendation #2: Provide meaningful and effective inclusive leadership development for existing academic leadership

  • Establish an Inclusive Leadership Institute (ILI), an annual program targeting academic leaders
  • Cohort approach with multiple sessions of regular programming targeting currently established leaders
  • provide tools to create, cultivate, and communicate a culture among unit and university/system leadership that encourages diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging
  • Participation is prestigious and advantageous, rather than mandatory.
  • Leaders who complete the program are invited to sponsor members of the inclusive leadership program group to provide sustainable support for them as well as model and encourage best practices on the part of established leaders
  • Members will be able to join peer groups within their cohort to ensure continued support