Penn State's Commission For Women advocates for gender equity

University Park, Pa. -- Recently launching ad-hoc committees to study wage equity, maternity leave and child care at Penn State, the Commission for Women is gathering information about gender-related topics that stakeholders have identified as important issues at the University.

"The commission is an all-volunteer organization that advocates for climate and policy changes to improve the status of women at Penn State," said commission chair Deborah Oakes. "Over the years, many strong programs have been put in place because of the commission's involvement, including the Night Escort Service, Administrative Fellows Program and the annual Technical Service Women's Workshop, to name a few."

A couple of years ago, the commission's Assessment Committee was created to gather and interpret gender-equity data to assist in identifying issues that impact women at the University. Based on preliminary research by the committee last year, three ad-hoc issues committees were formed in the fall. The committees are now learning about child care, maternity leave and wage equity at Penn State by examining historical data, current policies, expert opinions, programs at other institutions and focus-group experiences.

The commission will share information from the studies over the coming months and encourage discussion about possible successes and challenges that the data suggest.

Another important part of the commission is its Mentoring Program, which was formed in 1999 to match protégés and more experienced mentors within the University community. Program organizers help the pairs develop goals, provide guidance throughout the year and plan monthly professional activities.

Other committees within the commission focus on other aspects that forward the goals of women. The Campus Liaison Committee reaches out to all Penn State campuses in an effort to share best practices, strengthen intercampus communication about women's issues and reinforce the commission's goals.

The Marketing Committee promotes the purpose, vision and accomplishments of the commission; increases awareness of the commission within the Penn State community; and publicizes its special programs and events.

The Commission for Women accomplishes its goals by working collaboratively on campus and in the community in support of improving women's status. For more information, visit

Last Updated January 10, 2015