One Day University, Where Are The Women?
Imagine a university with no tests, no grades, no homework… and no women professors. It sounds completely impractical, not to mention totally unrepresentative, right? Well, that is exactly what you could be in for if you attend One Day University’s upcoming events in Lenox, Massachusetts or Westchester, New York.
For those unfamiliar with One Day University (ODU), it is an organization that “brings together professors from the finest universities… to present special versions of their very best lectures” to audiences in 45+ cities across the country.
The problem, however, is that only 16 of ODU’s 61 professors are women; in other words, there are four times as many professors who are men than are women!* And what’s worse is that there aren’t any black women (or men) on that list.
Now, I’ve endured plenty of experiences where my opinions and ideas have been ignored, and even ridiculed, simply because I’m a woman, so the sidelining of the “women’s voice” at ODU didn’t necessarily shock me. It did, however, motivate me to research this organization to better understand the gender imbalance at their events. The first thing I looked at was how ODU chooses its professors.
According to ODU’s website, the organization looks for instructors who have won teaching awards, and thus, “are the most popular with the students who take their classes.” Since ODU obviously works with far more men than women, it’s almost as if they are suggesting that it’s hard to find women instructors who are as distinguished or as popular as the men. I find that hard to believe, but, even if that is the case, isn’t ODU obligated simply to look harder? I mean, if they truly believe in employing the nation’s “greatest” professors, doesn’t that include both men and women?
Okay, but maybe it really is really, really hard to find women teachers who are passionate about the subjects they teach. Maybe this just has to do with logistics, not gender bias. So maybe I should just cut ODU some slack?
But that's very hard to do when you realize that a whopping 80% of ODU’s upcoming multi-speaker sessions feature more men than women. Here’s an example. And, while each professor gets the same amount of time — about one hour — to deliver his or her lecture, at each of these events, collectively the men are on the stage longer than the women, because they are leading the majority of the sessions during the day.
And what’s even more problematic is that women only appear in the multi-speaker sessions: all of the upcoming solo sessions are led by men!! There’s no doubt about it: at One Day University, women’s voices don’t count as much as men’s do.
Honestly, I think that it is great that One Day University is working to educate people, but I also think the lack of gender balance at their events needs to be addressed. The thousands of people who attend ODU’s events deserve a full learning experience, and that includes hearing from an equal number of men and women.
Women’s voices count just as much as men’s do, and there is no excuse for them not to.
If I were a student at One Day University, no matter how much I enjoyed the fact that there were no tests, no grades, and no homework, I would give it all up in a heartbeat if it meant having more women professors to learn from and be inspired by.
That's why I've joined GenderAvenger in calling out the underrepresentation of women at One Day University’s events. I invite you to do the same. Share the GA Tally to highlight the gender imbalance at ODU’s events, share this post with your friends and family (make sure to use the #genderavenger hashtag), and write to ODU about the importance of gender equality.
Together, we can ensure that women are always a part of the public dialogue… as they deserve to be.
Tanya Devani, who proudly hails from Birmingham, Alabama, will be a junior at Harvard University. This summer she is working as an intern at GenderAvenger.
* This number was calculated based on the professor profiles listed at the bottom of each event page.