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March 8, 2002
To Members of the Faculty:
In March 1999 the Report on the Status of Women Faculty in the School
of Science was published in the Faculty Newsletter. The study found
that tenured women experience many forms of marginalization and inequity.
In the fall of 1999 I asked the deans of the remaining four schools
at MIT to form similar women's committees and to analyze the status
of women faculty in their departments. The reports of these committees,
as well as the March 1999 report from the School of Science, are contained
in this document.
This collection of reports represents the work of over two years of
an outstanding group of our colleagues. Their results and recommendations
deserve all of our attention.
I believe that creating a diverse faculty to lead our community in
education and research must be a core value of MIT. The establishment
of the MIT Council on Faculty Diversity, co-chaired by Professors
Wesley Harris, Nancy Hopkins, and me, is focused specifically on this
goal. The reports on the Status of Women Faculty from each school
have been reviewed by the Council on Faculty Diversity, by individual
school councils, and by the Academic Council. The processes used by
each committee, as well as the academic cultures of individual departments
and schools, all differ slightly, but the findings of the committees
are startlingly consistent.
Each report documents bias against women faculty. The bias takes many
forms, ranging from inequities in compensation and resources, to more
subtle forms of marginalization, such as exclusion from substantive
decisions at the departmental level. The overall result is the same;
women faculty members are not equal participants in our faculty community.
A comment is repeated over and over that MIT is a "man's world". This
We must redouble our efforts to change our environment to one where
all colleagues are valued without bias according to either gender
or race. Increasing the number of women and minority faculty must
be a focus of our efforts. With this goal in mind we have restructured
our processes for faculty searches to set higher standards for aggressive
and thorough canvassing of the applicant pool for women and minority
candidates. With the support of the deans of MIT's five schools, we
are creating new processes to identify an increasingly large pool
of women and minority candidates.
Initiatives for faculty recruitment must be coupled with faculty compensation
and benefits that make a faculty career at MIT a very attractive option.
As you know, under the leadership of Professor Lotte Bailyn and the
Council on Faculty Diversity, we have recently created or revised
a number of policies in order to help our faculty balance their professional
and personal lives. We revised our promotion policies to delay the
tenure decision by one year for women faculty who bear a child. We
also have put in place a policy that would provide paid release from
teaching and service for one semester to any faculty member who is
the primary caregiver of a new member of a family. Finally, we have
established the option for half-time appointments for tenured faculty
for a specific duration in the case where the faculty member wishes
to give primary care to a family member.
The reports also address the important issue of career advancement
for women faculty members within MIT. Many of the issues surrounding
the potential for bias and marginalization within the Institute will
be resolved only when women faculty are fully represented and integrated
throughout our departments and administration. Within the last two
years, we have made progress in increasing the number of women in
administrative positions in all five of our schools, owing in no small
measure to the work of the school deans.
I believe that the efforts and recommendations of the committees that
are described in this volume will lead to fundamental change within
MIT. We all must work together to make MIT an environment that is
inclusive of all, and we owe a debt of gratitude to the colleagues
who served on these committees. Their work has already resulted in
positive changes that are a sign that MIT is making significant progress
toward having a truly diverse faculty that will lead the Institute
into the century ahead.
Robert A. Brown
© 2002 Massachusetts Institute of Technology