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News From the UNH President's Commission on the Status of Women

Lori Wright and Ruth Varner
Co-Chairs, UNH Women's Commission

The UNH President’s Commission on the Status of Women looks forward to an active year that builds on previous work in the areas of workplace flexibility, pay equity, and establishing a campus consensual relationship policy, while expanding its advocacy into the new area of workplace bullying prevention.

Established Feb. 15, 1972, the UNH President's Commission on the Status of Women was the first presidential commission created at UNH. The Women’s Commission explores conditions and attitudes within UNH relating to the mobility and functional equality of women and encourages movement toward the goal of full participation of women.

Today, the mission of the Women’s Commission is to create equal educational and employment opportunities for UNH women by promoting an environment free of sexism and discrimination through policy, advocacy and education.

The Women’s Commission has several initiatives underway.

Work/Life Balance
The Women’s Commission is concerned with creating a work environment that supports employees through more dynamic family/employee friendly policies, from flexible work arrangements and telecommuting to supporting employees in crisis or during particularly life-changing periods, such as the birth of a child or the death of a parent/spouse. The commission hopes to advise the university on how to create a more sustainable UNH, one that moves beyond the traditional ideas of environmental sustainability and expands sustainability to include the mental, physical, emotional, and professional well-being of employees. The wellness of employees translates into a UNH workforce that is more productive, efficient and satisfied with their personal and professional lives. For more information or to get involved with this initiative, please contact Amy Culp at amy.culp@unh.edu.

Workplace Bullying
Bringing awareness to the issue of workplace bullying is the newest initiative of the Women’s Commission. At a recent conference of the College and University Work Life Association, commission members learned that workplace bullying is pervasive on university campuses. Workplace bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment that takes one or more of the following forms: verbal abuse; offensive conduct/behaviors (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating; and work interference — sabotage — which prevents work from getting done. According to new research, 58 percent of the targets of bullying are women. Of those who perpetrate bullying, 55.5 percent are men. However, 80 percent of the perpetrators who bully women are other women. (Source: Workplace Bullying Institute) For more information or to get involved with this initiative, please contact Lori Wright at lori.wright@unh.edu.

Child Care
Nearly four decades, the Women’s Commission has been working towards creating a childcare facility on campus to meets the demands of students, staff and faculty. Qualitative and quantitative data gathered from campus resources has shown that there is insufficient childcare on campus. University parents of young children continue to struggle, usually quietly and beyond view, to balance their work and parental roles. For more information or to get involved with this initiative, please contact Peg Kirkpatrick at peg.kirkpatrick@unh.edu.

Pay Equity Study for Staff
Pay equity is a means of eliminating sex and race discrimination in the wage-setting system. From 2002 to 2004, full-time working women earned an average of 71 cents for every dollar earned by men in New Hampshire (Source: http://www.nhwpi.org). At this rate of change, the Institute for Women's Policy Research estimates that it will take until 2057 to close the wage gap. It is the goal of the Women's Commission to institutionalize a pay equity study for both faculty and staff at the university. At present, the commission is undertaking a pay equity study for women staff members, and hopes to work with other campus partners on a pay equity study for faculty. For more information or to get involved with this initiative, please contact Dr. Trece Mettauer at trece.mettauer@unh.edu.

Violence Against Women Committee
The Violence Against Women Committee (VAWC) is a sub-committee of the Women’s Commission charged with monitoring violence against women on campus and making recommendations to ensure that UNH is a safe and welcoming environment for women. Currently, members of Women’s Commission and the VAWC continue their work on the impact of consensual relationships between faculty and students, and supervisors and employees with whom they have a supervisory relationship. For more information or to get involved with this initiative, please contact Mary Mayhew at mary.mayhew@unh.edu.

Programming/Collaboration
The Women’s Commission has worked with other university organizations to make diverse programming available to the community. Last year, the commission worked with other departments to create The Courage to Know, a series of educational programs geared towards a successful experience in the first year of college. The commission also supports the continued efforts and programming of the President’s Commission on the Status of People of Color, GLBT, and Disability as well as the Violence Against Women Committee. For more information or to get involved with programming, please contact Sylvia Foster at sylvia.foster@unh.edu.

For more information on the Women’s Commission, please visit http://www.unh.edu/womens-commission/index.html. We also have a very active Facebook community at http://www.facebook.com/UNHWomen.

Lori Wright is a senior writer/editor in the UNH Office of Media Relations (http://www.unh.edu/news/). She works to generate national, regional and local publicity about the university. She has worked at the university since December 2001 and holds a master’s degree in political science from UNH. 

Ruth Varner is a research associate professor in Complex Systems Research Center (http://www.eos.sr.unh.edu/Faculty/Varner) and is jointly appointed in the Department of Earth Sciences. She is also the program coordinator for the undergraduate Environmental Science program and is currently the program director for UNH's ADVANCE PAID program (http://leitzelcenter.unh.edu/advance/index.html).



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