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Statement on reports of Task Forces on Women Faculty and on Women in Science and Engineering

Steven E. Hyman

Harvard’s Task Forces on Women Faculty and on Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) today released their final reports, following an intensive, three-month period of inquiry and analysis. The Task Force recommendations, which are based on broad consultation within the University and with peer institutions, propose various measures to enhance the diversity of the faculty ranks at Harvard across all fields and to improve the climate and prospects for faculty once on campus. They also propose a series of reforms and enhancements to the way women pursuing science and engineering are treated at every point along the “pipeline” from undergraduates, to graduate students, to post-doctoral fellows, to the faculty ranks.

Because they address fundamental issues about the way we conduct our core academic business, these recommendations have the power to make Harvard not only more welcoming and diverse, but a stronger and more excellent university overall. As the report of the WISE Task Force notes, the University is currently embarking on a number of important large-scale initiatives in the sciences. For these endeavors to succeed, Harvard must attract the best scientific talent and leadership. The actions recommended in these reports will help to ensure that Harvard is attractive to the best talent in all fields.

In recognition of the importance and far-reaching nature of these recommendations, the University will commit $50 million over the next decade to support the proposed initiatives. Meanwhile, we will conduct the feasibility and cost analyses that will enable us to further shape and implement the proposals. There is no doubt that these initiatives will require significant additional expenditures. But we want to make clear at the outset that this is a serious effort calling for a serious commitment of resources.

We will begin immediately to implement certain of the proposals that are fully developed. These include launching a search for the Senior Vice Provost for Diversity and Faculty Development; preparing a leadership development program focusing on issues of diversity for the summer retreat of the President, Provost, and Deans; planning for study centers for students in undergraduate science courses and the Summer Undergraduate Research Program; and preparing for the launch of the “COACHE” climate survey for junior faculty, developed by a research team in our Graduate School of Education, to be administered in the Fall, 2005.

With respect to the remaining recommendations, working closely with the Deans we will consider the overall balance, cost and feasibility of the proposals and determine whether and how specific measures may best be implemented in individual schools. We will work aggressively to refine specific action items and achieve effective implementation over the course of the summer and the next academic year.

We would like to express our personal thanks to Radcliffe Institute Dean Drew Faust and Professors Evelynn Hammonds and Barbara J. Grosz for their extraordinary leadership in guiding the work of the Task Forces. We would also like to thank the members and staff of the Task Forces for their dedication and vision in producing recommendations that will strengthen the foundation of this University.

At the request of the Task Forces, the University will take advantage of a public comment period extending through June 30th as part of the process of evaluating and refining recommendations. Comments will be received and considered by the Academic Advisory Group, consisting of the President, Provost, and Deans. It is our hope that the comment period will give the University community and others a chance to review the report with care and make thoughtful remarks.

Comments and suggestions should be addressed to the Academic Advisory Group at