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Harvard Names First Diversity Adviser

Harvard Names First Diversity Adviser

Harvard has tapped a government professor to serve as the school’s first diversity adviser, a position created after Harvard president Dr. Lawrence Summers caused a nationwide uproar when he questioned women’s aptitude for top-level math and science.

Dean of Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dr. William Kirby announced recently that Dr. Lisa L. Martin, a professor of international affairs in Harvard’s government department, will advise him on matters relating to gender, racial and ethnic diversity.

The FAS delivered a vote of no confidence in Summers in March in the aftermath of a speech in which he said that innate differences between the genders may partly explain why fewer women apply for top jobs in science.

Martin says her job is to a craft a “long-term strategic vision” to “make sure that minorities and women at Harvard are in the best position to do their work.”

Harvard had an associate dean for affirmative action until four or five years ago, says faculty spokesman Steve Bradt.

After the no-confidence vote, two task forces on women recommended creating Martin’s job.

“It was in the works before the Summers remarks,” Martin says, “but I wouldn’t be surprised if that added some urgency to the agenda.”
Also, for the first time, Harvard is offering a sociology course this fall called “Women and Science: Sociological Aspects.” The class will be taught by Dr. Gerhard Sonnert, a lecturer in sociology and a research associate in physics.

Harvard’s new course catalog says the class will explore the “similarities and dissimilarities between the situation of women and that of other minority groups in science.”

Sonnert told the Harvard Crimson student newspaper that the subject matter is a “long-term interest” of his and not a response to Summers’ remarks.

— Associated Press

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