Report: Iowa universities see gains in diverse employment, but still have work to do

Regent schools still lag behind peer universities in diversity employment

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All three of Iowa’s public universities have seen gains in the diversity of their workforce, although — for the most part — they remain below peer their institutions when it comes to female and minority employees.

The University of Iowa has made the most progress among the three universities in increasing the percent of its total workforce that identifies either as female or minority, according to a report scheduled to be presented to the Board of Regents this week.

Of the 16,981 regular, full-time, and part-time UI employees between Oct. 1, 2014 and Sept. 30, 2015, 64.6 percent were female and 11.6 percent were minorities. Both of those figures were up from September 2005, when 62.5 percent of the UI workforce was female and 7.9 percent minorities.

Iowa State University saw modest increases in both categories — with 50.2 percent female employees and 13.7 percent identifying as minority last fall, compared with 49 percent and 12 percent in 2005, respectively, according to the regent report.

University of Northern Iowa saw a slight uptick in its female percentage, from 53.5 percent in 2005 to 55.4 percent in 2015. But its minority percentage went from 9.9 percent to 9.7.

At the University of Iowa, the college with the most minority diversity was the College of Engineering — with 19.1 percent of its employees identifying as such. The College of Medicine, with 16.3 percent, also had among the highest minority percentages, while the College of Law had the lowest.

When looking at the percent of total employees who are female, the UI College of Nursing had the highest percentage — with 86.4 percent — followed by the College of Dentistry, with 72.7 percent.

All three universities have initiatives aimed at cultivating, hiring, and retaining minority and women faculty and staff, and the results of those efforts are being presented not only to the Board of Regents but to the General Assembly as they decided on state allocations.

However, despite the three schools seeing improvement over the past decade, the universities lagged behind universities in their peer groups in nearly every category. When comparing full-time faculty for fall 2014, for example, UI reported 32.2 percent female and 18.5 percent minority compared with a peer group average of 33.4 percent female and 21.5 percent minority, according to the report.

UI’s peer group includes Big Ten schools like the universities of Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, and also schools like the University of Arizona and University of California.

Iowa State — which has a peer group that includes many of the same schools at UI but also institutions like Texas A&M and North Carolina State universities — reported 30.9 percent female and 22.9 percent minority, compared with 32 percent and 23.2 percent, respectively.

UNI was the only Iowa university to top their peers in any category — reporting 45.1 percent female employees compared with the peer average of 40.4 percent. But UNI also suffered the biggest peer gap — reporting 15.5 percent minority employees, compared with 25.3 percent among their peers.

When looking at the regent system as a whole, the universities made the biggest gains in the areas of executive, administrative, or managerial females and in technical or paraprofessional employees.

Among diversity initiatives across the three campuses are various training opportunities for faculty, staff, and graduate students regarding discrimination and harassment policies and procedures. One UI course available to faculty and staff looks at ways to recruit and hire a diverse workforce through best practices.

Iowa State highlighted its trainings on discrimination and harassment and pointed out that its attention on hiring underrepresented faculty and staff has it in line with the state’s demographics. According to 2013 U.S. Census data, 50.5 percent of Iowans were women and 12.5 percent were minorities.

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