Magazine article Academe

Universities Pledge to Treat Women Faculty Better

Magazine article Academe

Universities Pledge to Treat Women Faculty Better

Article excerpt

Nine research universities agreed in January to improve their treatment of women faculty in the sciences and engineering. The agreement came after a meeting between women scientists and senior administrators from the California Institute of Technology; Harvard University; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Princeton University; Stanford University; the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor; the University of Pennsylvania; and Yale University. The meeting was initiated by MIT president Charles Vest, who invited the presidents of the other universities and asked each one to bring along another administrator and two women scientists.

"It was a remarkable day - some years ago no one could have believed that the presidents of these universities would get together to talk about this issue," says Lotte Bailyn, an MIT faculty member who was instrumental in forming a committee that studied the status of women science faculty at MIT in the 1990s.

A 1999 report issued by that committee noted that although women faculty said they had adequate support at the start of their MIT careers, they felt increasingly marginalized as their careers progressed. The report concluded that data showed that tenured women faculty, even when they were as accomplished as male colleagues, often received worse treatment in the areas of salary, space, awards, resources, and counteroffers to job offers from other institutions. It also noted that as of 1994 the percentage of women on the faculty of MIT's School of Science had held steady at about 8 percent for a decade or two. …

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