Last week, the New York Times reported that women are making gains at Harvard, five years after former Harvard President Lawrence Summers made some ill-advised remarks about women that eventually led to his resignation. NYTimes reporter Tamar Lewin describes some of the changes that Harvard has made to recruit more women faculty members, such as:
- A task force on women in science
- Improved childcare facilities
- Grants to help junior faculty pay for childcare on research trips
Lewin also notes that Harvard replaced Summers with its first female president — Drew Gilpin Faust — but that it’s not clear what effect, if any, Faust’s presidency, has had on the gender balance at Harvard. The percentage of women on the Harvard faculty is up past 25% now, an all-time high, though it varies dramatically across disciplines. In addition, Harvard’s academic culture is running into conflicts with a generational culture of younger faculty who want to spend more time with their families.
“Our biggest challenge is this misperception that Harvard doesn’t tenure its own junior faculty,” Dr. [Elena A.] Kramer [biology professor] said. “And because many of our wonderful senior faculty women came up in the ’70s and ’80s and don’t have families, some young women who know they want families might look at them and say, ‘I don’t want that kind of life’ and take themselves out of the pipeline.”
While I’m not sure about her “misperception” point (see this Crimson article), I agree that there is a change of faculty assumptions about career choices taking place.
My question: What can universities — as well as groups like ESN — do to encourage women who pursuing academic vocations?
Before leaving the comments to you, let me recommend our partner ministry, The Well, published by InterVarsity’s Women in the Academy and Professions. They consistently great articles about women, vocation, family, and related topics (which I often borrow for publication in the Emerging Scholars Review).