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Olin Business School appoints five female tenure-track professors

Kathleen White | Contributing Reporter

Olin Business School hired five female tenuretrack professors to its ranks this fall, reflecting University-wide efforts to increase gender parity amongst its faculty.

The newly appointed faculty include: Ashley Hardin, an assistant professor of organizational behavior; Xing Huang, an assistant professor of finance; Hannah Perfecto, an assistant professor of marketing; Rachel Ruttan, an assistant professor of organizational behavior and Sydney Scott, an assistant professor of marketing.

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In addition to the five professors, the business school hired Karam Kang, visiting professor of economics from Carnegie Mellon University, and postdoctoral scholar Zhenyu Liao. The number of female tenured and tenure-track faculty now stands at 22 in the business school, or over a quarter of faculty.

As of Nov. 1, 2016, 24 percent of tenured and tenure-track business school faculty members identified as women, compared with 32 percent on the Danforth campus as a whole. Over the past 10 years, the business school has increased the number of women by almost 10 percent, comparable with Danforth campus seeing an overall increase of 11 percent in the number of female tenured and tenure-track faculty members.

Graduate student Perri Goldberg, president of Olin Women in Business, believes the new hiring shows the business school’s commitment to supporting a diverse faculty. “I think it’s fantastic that they’re all on the tenure track because that shows the commitment to involving women in higher education and setting them up for success and leadership and promotion,” Goldberg said.

According to Vice Provost Adrienne Davis, the Olin Business School has been actively seeking outstanding women faculty for some time, as part of efforts to diversify tenured and tenure-track faculty.

“There is a University wide very strong value and priority to diversify our faculty across all lines but a very specific emphasis on racial diversity and gender diversity. It’s a message and a value that’s been set not only by the chancellor but the board of trustees has stated it as their top priority in their plan for excellence,” Davis said.

Davis recognizes that faculty diversity is a problem that Washington University shares in common with many other institutions. As such, the University has created various approaches to accomplishing the task of recruiting and hiring a diverse array of faculty. Each school has its own strategies and recruitment methods as to how to identify top scholars and convert hiring offers into acceptances.

“At Olin, and in line with the University’s own best practices for faculty searches, we make sure we build a large and extensive pool of candidates by advertising broadly, reaching out to faculty colleagues at other top business schools, and attending the recruiting conferences where the best and brightest, newlyminted PhDs come to look for academic jobs. As dean, I make sure I am personally involved in every faculty hiring decision,” Dean of Olin Business School Mark Taylor said.

Washington University has also made significant efforts to support and increase female leadership within the University, including a women’s leadership institute and offering formal training for senior faculty interested in pursuing leadership opportunities.

The business school has seen increased gender parity at the leadership level during recent years, according to Taylor.

“Our processes are paying dividends, especially in terms of developing successful leaders: Over the last two years, we have appointed an equal number of male and female chaired professorships, and there is an equal gender balance in the leadership across the functional areas in the school such as finance, strategy and accounting, etc.,” Taylor said.

Davis looks forward to fostering a more equitable workplace climate, a key aspect of recruiting and retaining a diverse set of faculty members.

“It’s our job to help [the new faculty members] become the scholars and academics they want to be. It’s our job to ensure that they can have the careers that they want to have here at Washington University and not somewhere else,” Davis said. “It’s our job to keep them here and cultivate them into the next generation of academic leaders for Washington University—so, although they just started, we’ve got big plans for them.”