$2.5M gender discrimination settlement continues run of controversy for UC system
- Former University of California Riverside chief counsel Michele Coyle accused her former school of maintaining a pervasive culture of gender discrimination against women. A jury found in her favor this week, awarding the attorney $2.5 million.
- Coyle accused the school of retaliating against her for reporting a number of incidents involving gender discrimination, which included name-calling, inequitable pay between men and women, women being passed over for promotions, and misleading reporting to the federal government on the school's gender-based salary profile.
- School officials denied the charges and are considering an appeal. It is the latest in a string of controversial issues involving UC leadership and court battles.
While there has been some growth in higher education for the number of women earning leadership positions in faculty and administration, there remains a significant gap in the perceptions of how women perform in leadership when compared to men, and in the disparate margin of error between the sexes.
There are few things institutions can do to mitigate the actions of an individual, but they can actively promote cultures of tolerance and inclusion when presidents commit to diverse hiring practices and make expectations about civility and respect clear in working groups and performance evaluations. Even if this requires personal intervention from leaders, it is worth the time when measured against the public reaction to discrimination claims.