Report: Women Throughout MIT Face Discrimination
Women faculty throughout the Massachusetts Institute of Technology long have faced bias and inequality, according to a report released last month on gender equity at the school.
Although the university has made progress in correcting longstanding discrimination, work is still needed, such as correcting the near-complete absence of minority female faculty at the university, the report said.
In a letter Provost Robert Brown wrote to faculty last month, he said the findings were “startlingly consistent.”
“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,” Brown wrote. “This must change.”
The report is a schoolwide follow-up to a 1999 report that found systemic marginalization, lower pay and fewer resources for female MIT faculty at the School of Science, one of five schools within the university.
Last month’s findings describe similar patterns of inequality — to greater and lesser degrees — in the other four MIT schools, and outlines an ongoing process for rooting out the problem.
Nancy Hopkins, an MIT biology professor who first sparked the school’s review of the treatment of women and sat on the Council of Faculty Diversity that drew up the report, called the findings “almost revolutionary.”
“I think it’s profound. When we began this six years ago, I didn’t think a single other person — male — would understand what I was talking about. Now MIT has put it on the table, examined it, and made institutional changes to fix it,” she says.
The report updates the status of women at the School of Science, but also describes the situation for female faculty at the university’s other four schools: the School of Architecture and Planning; the School of Engineering; the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; and the Sloan School of Management.
The report found that the number of women faculty at the school overall has increased to 154 today, just over 17 percent of the faculty, from 96 in 1990, or about 11 percent. Since 1994, when Hopkins first began examining the issue, the school has added 44 women faculty members.
And while the report did not specifically address race, it did report a “harsh reality: There are almost no women of color on the MIT faculty.” Of the 154 women faculty members, 14 are U.S. minorities — there are seven Asian American, five African American and two Hispanic American women faculty members.
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