Williams supports FACE IT petition

Molly Crain

News Editor

President R. Owen Williams is asking Transylvania’s campus to join him in signing the FACE IT petition — “Seven White Men: That’s Ridiculous” — which aims to pressure Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg into adding women to his all-male board of trustees.

Feb. 1, Facebook announced a $5 billion initial public offering (IPO). For a website whose most active users are women, many are frustrated that the homogenous board doesn’t accurately represent the user population.

Alice Baumgartner, a 2010 Yale University graduate, is one of the leading members of the FACE IT campaign and was able to encourage others to support the endeavor, according to Williams.

“I was actually involved from the ground level,” said Williams. “I felt that it was such a worthy cause, and thought I should be involved.”

Last week, the FACE IT campaign teamed up with women’s rights group UltraViolet to gain signatures.

UltraViolet, which identifies as “a community of women and men, fighting to expand women’s rights to combat sexism everywhere — from politics and government to media and pop culture,” sent a petition to its 300,000 members. Within 24 hours, 28,000 had signed.

The petition can be found through FACE IT’s Facebook group, which directs you to the UltraViolet petition link.

From an April 7 post on Baumgartner’s blog entitled “Putting a Face on Women,” she describes a memory that reminds her of why she remains steadfast in pushing the FACE IT campaign forward.

“One afternoon, at the end of my first semester at college,” Baumgartner wrote, “a group of men from my philosophy class were studying for our exam in the dining hall. Since I had questions about Kant’s ‘Metaphysics’ — actually, about most of the readings — I decided to ask if I could join them. But, as I approached the table, the men grew silent. I asked if I could sit down, and then waited uncomfortably for a response. They said nothing, and after a few minutes, I walked away, confused and most of all, embarrassed.”

Afterwards Baumgartner ran into a friend who was in the study group. He apologized and said that the men at the table had agreed not to study with women. Eventually the group dissolved, but Baumgartner realized she’d never be invited to that study group.

“It was a question of networks — not abilities,” Baumgartner wrote.

The FACE IT campaign has expanded its reach as many news sources have noticed its influence, including Forbes, The Hill, CNET, WebProNews and the Los Angeles Times.

“The composition of Facebook’s board is a problem,” said a general email PDF that was sent to Williams to encourage campaign participation. “It is also an opportunity. Catalyst statistics have shown that the percentage of women on corporate boards has remained constant at 15-16 percent over the last six years. But it’s not just senior women in business. It’s government. It’s medicine. It’s law. It’s Hollywood. This campaign will start a conversation across the world — not just about Facebook’s board, but about those making decisions across all industries and professions. If you want to be judged by your abilities, not your gender, join us.”

“I am at the helm of a college (where) 60 percent of its students are women,” said Williams. “I want to do whatever I can.”

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