When Duke's Administrative Women's Network sent an invitation for a "women only" financial workshop over the summer, the free seminar hit the 75-person registration limit in less than 48 hours.
That high demand reflects the large proportion of women at Duke: 65 percent of Duke University and Duke University Health System employees are female - higher than the U.S. workforce average of 46.9 percent.
According to Martha Reeves, a visiting scholar in Women's Studies and Sociology at Duke, the wealth of women is not unusual for a university, where many staff jobs are based on service and support. Across the nation, and at Duke, women are over-represented in fields like nursing, clerical work and service areas such as dining and housekeeping.
In nursing fields at Duke, 5,039 of the 5,563 employees are female, according to Duke Human Resources. This bumps up the proportion of women in the Health System to 75 percent.
"We are slowly seeing more men join the field of nursing, but I think the public today would still find it very odd if a health care organization did not have a very high proportion of women," said Mary Ann Fuchs, chief nursing officer for Duke University Health System.
Reeves, the visiting scholar, said Duke's high proportion of women may also reflect that academic institutions offer more flexibility around work and family responsibilities. "In my experience, academia is more conducive to work-life balance than many businesses driven by quarterly stock performance," she said. Duke addresses work-life balance and provides family-friendly policies, on-site child care centers and professional development through groups like the Administrative Women's Network.
Christine Vucinich, an IT outreach coordinator, attended the "Woman to Woman Financial Empowerment" seminar, which was presented in partnership with Duke Human Resources and the Administrative Women's Network over the summer.
"It was empowering to see women in so many different roles - managers, staff assistants, coordinators, directors," Vucinich said. "I realize I have lots of good role models around me, including in IT, where the top two positions are filled by females."