. "Plenary III: Strategies and Policies to Recruit, Retain, and Advance Women Scientists." Who Will Do the Science of the Future?: A Symposium on Careers of Women in Science. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2000.
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WHO WILL DO THE SCIENCE OF THE FUTURE?: A SYMPOSIUM ON CAREERS OF WOMEN IN SCIENCE
mance of women students becomes equal to that of men. Over the years, the self-confidence and professional aspirations of the women have grown steadily, reaching a level today well beyond my own projections of the late 1960s.
Several factors contributed to these achievements, including a strong commitment of the MIT presidents, strong support from top MIT administrators (e.g., deans), and the leadership and hard work of women (and also men) faculty, who worked with the students, mentored them, and developed a quantitative methodology that has served us well over the years.
This methodology involves identification of an area where women have not had equal opportunity (such as athletics, housing, and so forth), work with the administration to make the relevant data available, and make recommendations for solving the problem. Variants of this methodology have been used for over 30 years to improve the status of women students. The focus on teamwork and cooperation, among the MIT women's community and with the MIT administration, has helped us accomplish a lot, with minimal trauma.
Despite the many accomplishments, we still have a long way to go. Increasing the number of women in science was necessary, but as we learned from the recent report on women faculty in the MIT School of Science, this is not enough. Issues concerning the quality of professional life of women faculty are not necessarily addressed without diligence and occasional intervention. Included in quality-of-professional life issues are salary, laboratory space, teaching assignments, service on key departmental committees, inclusion in groupfunded projects, access to secretarial and technical support, and so forth. The process of collecting data to assess the quality of life of the women faculty brought women in the School of Science together and helped us understand our personal and collective situations better. The assembled data provided the MIT administration with a clearer picture on how to improve faculty career development procedures.
To address specific inequities uncovered by the report process, appropriate adjustments were made, largely through the leadership of the Dean of Science. These adjustments led to increased (documented) productivity of the women faculty, so that the small investments made by the Dean led to significant benefits to the individuals and to MIT as a whole. Similar initiatives are now under way in other schools at MIT, and the expectations are that a similar quantitative fact-finding approach involving women and men faculty and others will reveal inequities that will be amicably resolved for the mutual benefit to the faculty members and MIT as a whole.
Because of the wide press and media coverage of the MIT report, the strong endorsement by President and Mrs. Clinton for the process, and for the broad replication of the MIT approach in workplaces around the country, there is now an opportunity to make a real difference in the status of women in science and technology in academia, industry, and government laboratories. Encouragement by professional societies, private foundations, and funding agencies can help to make the replication process at other institutions a reality.