A broadly diverse faculty is critical to MIT’s educational mission, and significant efforts have been made to achieve a faculty whose diversity reflects that of the students we train. To assess the success of some of these efforts, I examined the percentage of women faculty in the Schools of Science and Engineering over time. In Science, the increased number (and percentage) of women faculty today is the consequence of: pressures associated with the civil rights movement in the early 1970s; unusual efforts between 1996 and 2000 by former Dean of Science Bob Birgeneau in response to the 1996 Report on Women Faculty in Science; and efforts that sustained the progress made as a result of these two initiatives. The women faculty hired in the School of Science as a result of these pressures achieved tenure at the same rate as men and have achieved at least the same level of professional success as their male colleagues as measured by election to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences. In the School of Engineering, the number of women faculty rose more steadily with time and with the increasing number of women receiving PhDs. But as in Science, a recent rapid increase in the number of women faculty resulted from the leadership of its Dean, Tom Magnanti, working collaboratively with then Provost Bob Brown, in response to the “Report on Women Faculty in the School of Engineering.” The data suggest that usual departmental hiring processes do not always identify exceptional female candidates. But, women faculty were readily hired by involvement of the central administration, including the use of novel hiring procedures, collaborations among the Provost, Deans, Department Heads, and women faculty committees, all with the visible support of the President.



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