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Introductory Comments

Robert J. Birgeneau

This article in the Faculty Newsletter describes the efforts of an extraordinary group of women faculty in the School of Science to understand and ameliorate the long-term effects of discrimination in academia. I believe that in no case was this discrimination conscious or deliberate. Indeed, it was usually totally unconscious and unknowing. Nevertheless, the effects were and are real. Some small steps have been taken to reverse the effects of decades of discrimination, but we still have a great deal more to accomplish before true equality and equal treatment will have been achieved.

Currently, our undergraduate body at MIT reflects reasonably well the remarkable diversity and richness of the American population. Our faculty, on the other hand, remains overwhelmingly white male. This, of course, means that we are not taking advantage of the tremendous talents of the absolute majority of the population in filling our faculty ranks. This is to the detriment of the students, the faculty, and MIT as a whole. Correcting this extreme imbalance is one of the major challenges that MIT faces as we enter the next millennium. This report is a critical first step in that process. I congratulate our School of Science women faculty for their courage and conviction in initiating this process.