Project Description

Dr. Ronda Callister

Ronda Roberts Callister was recently awarded the Women and Gender Research Institute’s Distinguished Professor Award. In 2001 she was selected as the College of Business Teacher of the Year and was selected as the College of Business Researcher of the Year in 2007.

Careers of Professional and Academic Women

It’s been called many things — from the glass ceiling, to women’s liberation, to equal rights, to gender inequality and even sexism ­— and the fact remains that there are obstacles in the working world for women in traditionally male dominated professions.

Utah State University management professor Ronda Callister from the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business has researched women’s roles in the workforce and has worked to create changes that allow equality in the workforce. Callister is the principal investigator of a USU team that received a National Science Foundation ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant. The $3 million grant, received in 2003, was designed to improve the recruitment and advancement of women and minority faculty in sciences and engineering at the university.

The problem for women succeeding in the workforce is not due to lack of education. In fact, 57 percent of college freshman are women, and of those women many go on to earn doctorates and advanced degrees in fields such as business, medicine and engineering. It is when the choice between work and a personal life comes into play that many women feel forced to choose one or the other.

“We have this ideal model for ‘success’ in the work world, and that often equals no children,” Callister said. “We need to work to provide alternatives for success so that every person can make the maximum contribution to society while still having a personal life.”

Callister said that when the ADVANCE grant started in 2003, only one-third of women who started a tenure track position at a university without children ever had children, and 48 percent of tenured women had no children. Only 10 percent of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) faculty were women. Those numbers have since improved.

Callister said policies need to be in place that allow flexibility. These include a part-time option for tenure track faculty, an extended time to earn tenure and onsite childcare services. She also said procedures to counter implicit bias will improve working conditions for women. This includes using multiple raters and objective criteria when performance reviews are conducted and removing names when rating resumes and vitas.