University of Illinois System

Why Do We Need the Gender Inclusive Leadership Project?

Women in academia are disproportionately represented in internal service roles, even when controlling for rank, race, field, and department (Gurino & Borden, 2017).

Even if the grand totals within a department or office are close to equivalent, women and gender minorities are more often found in roles that involve less prestigious service to the university or department. These types of service can hinder careers, as they often do not contribute to tenure or promotion consideration.

We can see this pattern play out in leadership across the 3 campuses for the University of Illinois. While a majority of Provost/Vice Provost, Chancellor/Vice Chancellor, Dean and Department EO positions are filled by men, the reverse is seen for Associate and Assistant positions.

The assistant and associate provosts’ (majority women) roles are in support of those above them, the provost and vice provost (majority men). The same is also true for the chancellor’s office.

Women Administrators by Leadership Level

President, Executive VP, VPs, Chancellors, Provosts, Dean, Head/ Chair


Vice Chancellor/Provost, Assoc VP/Chancellor/ Provost, Assoc Dean, Associate Head/Chair


Asst VP/Chancellor/ Provost, Asst Dean, Asst Head/Chair


Tenure-System Women Faculty Across The Three Universities


Faculty roles show a similar pattern. There are more men than women in tenure track positions.*

A similar pattern of inequity can be seen within the tenure track. Although women are closing the gap with regard to Associate and Assistant Professor roles, they still comprise less than one-third of the Full professor positions. Among other factors contributing to this outcome, the higher frequency of service tasks to women faculty on the tenure track can prevent them from completing scholarly activites that are valued in the promotion review process.

Women Faculty Within The Tenure System By Rank

Full Professor


Associate Professor


Assistant Professor


Women Faculty Who Hold Endowed Professorships


Women in science are paid less than their peers (Chech 2022), are given major research awards less often (Watson 2021), and receive less recognition.*

These inequities increased during the pandemic, which had a more negative impact on women’s scholarship, while men’s scholarly products increased (Allen et al., 2021).

Don’t we already have mandatory trainings to address this issue?

Mandatory trainings have been shown to be relatively ineffective for changing the culture of a workplace (Zelin & Magley 2022). These required trainings can have the opposite effect (Dobbin & Kalev 2016). They tend to make those who must complete them resentful of their ‘wasted time’ and overconfident in their actions after the training, even though no real change has occurred.

Isn’t someone already working on fixing this? Why is the university system involved?

“Unless systemic barriers are highly visible to faculty and deemed illegitimate, they are unlikely to become the focus of university change efforts" (Bird & Rhoton 2021).

Across the 32 committees in the UIUC Provost’s office, and the 7 committees in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, none have the explicit mission to address gender equity.

Among 12 initiatives from the UIC Provost’s office and the 8 committees in the Office of Diversity, Equity, & Engagement, one committee, the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Women has the explicit mission to address gender equity. One of 6 university-wide committee reports on sexual misconduct.

Among the 18 committees and task forces in the UIS Dept. of Academic Affairs, 1 group, the University Equity Plan Committee (Fall 2022) has the mission to “close gaps in enrollment, retention, completion, and student loan repayment rates for underrepresented groups”

For all three universities, system level action has the potential for broad impact on issues of gender equity.


  • Allen, K., Butler-Henderson, K., Reupert, A., Longmuir, F., Finefter- Rosenbluh, I., Berger, E., Grove, C., Heffernan, A., Freeman, N., Kewalramani, S., Krebs, S., Dsouza, L., Mackie, G., Chapman, D., & Fleer, M. (2021). Work like a girl: Redressing gender inequity in academia through systemic solutions. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 18(3).
  • Bird, S. R., & Rhoton, L. A. (2021). Seeing isn’t always believing: Gender, academic STEM, and women scientists’ perceptions of career opportunities. Gender & Society, 35(3), 422-448. https://
  • Cech, E.A., The intersectional privilege of white able-bodied heterosexual men in STEM. Sci. Adv. 8, eabo1558(2022).
  • DOI:10.1126/sciadv.abo1558
  • Dobbin, F., & Kalev, A. (2016). Why diversity programs fail. Harvard Business Review, 94(7), 14.
  • Guarino, C.M., Borden, V.M.H. Faculty Service Loads and Gender: Are Women Taking Care of the Academic Family?. Res High Educ 58, 672–694 (2017). 17-9454-2
  • Watson, C. (2021). Women less likely to win major research awards. Nature.
  • Zelin, A.I., Magley, V.J. (2022). Sexual Harassment Training: Why It (Currently) Doesn’t Work and What Can Be Done. In: Geffner, R., White, J.W., Hamberger, L.K., Rosenbaum, A., Vaughan-Eden, V., Vieth, V.I. (eds) Handbook of Interpersonal Violence and Abuse Across the Lifespan. Springer, Cham. https://

*All statistics are from October 2023, University of Illinois System.