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Female UC Faculty's Status Assailed : Academia: UCI panelists describe what they call closed hiring practices. One suggests that 50% of future hires in the system be women or minorities.


IRVINE — A panel of 15 speakers at UC Irvine on Friday called the status of women faculty in the University of California system "outrageous" and said the situation is not improving.

The panel discussion was sponsored by several women's groups, including We Advocate Gender Equity, a group formed at UCI last year in response to UCI Medical Center's poor record of hiring and retaining women. The panel included state Sen. Art Torres (D-Los Angeles), Assemblyman Tom Umberg (D-Garden Grove) and three women who have sued UC campuses.

About 40 people listened as the panelists discussed what they say is an ongoing closed-hiring practice by an "old boys network," of stonewalling by administrators and of the millions of dollars spent on lawsuits.

The situation of women in academia is "worse than 50 years ago, proportionately, and it's not getting better," said Susan Butler, co-chairwoman of WAGE.

Martha West, professor of law at UC Davis, presented statistics from her research showing that while 44% of the Ph.D.s issued nationwide in 1992 went to women, women comprised only 18% of the faculty in the UC system, compared to 30% nationwide.

"At the current rate of change among full professors, it will take another 83 years for women to reach 50%," she said. "We are here today to speed up these rates of change."

She suggested that in the UC system, 50% of all future hires be women or minorities.

Marjorie Mosier, formerly a professor of ophthalmology at UCI, Leigh Segel, a professor at UC Davis Medical School, and Christine McGill, a professor of psychiatry at UC San Francisco, discussed their lawsuits that alleged discriminatory actions of hiring and tenure.

"I believe what faculty chairs and university administrators are doing is illegal and immoral," said Segel, a WAGE co-chairwoman whose seven-year lawsuit against two male supervisors was settled in 1993. She said the university system is still promoting less-qualified white men to tenure track positions.

UC officials could not be reached for comment.

Torres called the situation of women faculty in the UC system "outrageous," and said he would take copies of the testimonies to the state Legislature before the next budget hearing.

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