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Special RSA Preconference Session Announced

Breaking through the Glass Ceiling: A Colloquy on Gender Equity and the Rhetoric Society of America


Conference participants in the process of making travel arrangements for RSA in Seattle should know about an important Featured RSA Colloquy that has been arranged by Cheryl Geisler. It is scheduled for Friday, May 23, from 12-1 pm, in the Vashon Room of the Seattle Westin:

Breaking through the Glass Ceiling: A Colloquy on Gender Equity and the Rhetoric Society of America

Cheryl Geisler, Barbara Warnick, Susan Wells, Ekaterina Haskins and Jack Selzer

Despite increasing numbers in the academy, women faculty members continue to encounter a glass ceiling when it comes to advancing through the professoriate. Women are still less than half as likely as men to be promoted to full professor at doctoral granting institutions (Curtis 2005).

The departure point for this Society Colloquy is a cohort analysis carried out on the 2006 membership rolls of the Rhetoric Society of America. Briefly, the results suggest that women in RSA with thirteen or more years since dissertation ("the 13+ Club") are 1.7 times less likely to be full professors than men; but that if we look at those who are 13-25 years since dissertation, the percentage of full professors who are women about equals the number of men. This pattern suggests that RSA started out with a strongly male constituency but has, through aggressive growth, attracted a growing number of women. At this point in our history, then, RSA is at a crossroads in terms of achieving gender equity in advancement.

Following a brief presentation of the cohort analysis, this Society Colloquy brings together a cross-generational group of women with the Society leadership to consider the responsibility of the RSA in addressing the gender equity in advancement. Women panelists will open with a brief history of their own advancement along with an analysis of the role that the RSA played in that advancement. Next the women will give their perspectives on the realities behind the advancement discrepancies. Finally, the session will turn to considering what the responsibility of a professional society, particularly RSA, should be in the face of such discrepancies, and the actions which might be taken to address them.

A short 2-page summary of the analysis will be made available in advance through the web to stimulate interest and discussion among the membership.

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