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Gender Committee Needs High Profile

By The CRIMSON Staff

The committee to advise Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68 on women's issues recently met for the second time. Although many of its members were not able to attend because of time conflicts or a lack of notification about the meeting, we are confident that the committee, if it continues to meet regularly and tackle important problems, will be able to make a real difference in women's lives at the College.

Lewis's appointment over the summer of Karen E. Avery '87 as assistant dean of the College and a liaison to students about women's issues, campus safety and sexual orientation strikes us as a positive development. He acted independently of any recommendation from the committee, seeming to think that the issues Avery is responsible for are important enough to warrant allocating the College's financial resources to her position. We hope she and Virginia Mackay-Smith, assistant dean of the College for co-education, can work together to make themselves known to the College community as approachable resources on women's issues.

We also hope the committee continues to meet about once a month, as do other institutionalized groups such as the Committees on House and College Life and the Committee on Undergraduate Education, and not simply "occasionally," as Lewis has mentioned. Such a regular schedule will both enable its members to plan to attend all the meetings and allow the group to move forward quickly with important initiatives.

As the administration fills spaces vacated by seniors who have graduated and adds first-years to the committee, we hope it reaches out to women of color, who are barely represented in the group. We also urge women of color to accept membership and thus take a role in shaping the lives of women at Harvard.

The committee is currently working on an initiative to provide more role models to women at Harvard--increasing the visibility of accomplished women on campus, including professors, administrators and leaders in the business community. We strongly believe that the best way to give women confidence in leadership is to present them with examples of other women who have succeeded, and we support whatever efforts the committee can make to provide a network of admirable women upon which to draw.

Other areas we would like the committee to tackle as soon as possible are: promoting campus safety, instituting gender-sensitivity training for T.F.s, incorporating gender issues into the required first-year discussions on diversity, setting up a panel or discussion groups about how women leaders and women in general are perceived by their peers on campus, investigating Harvard's record of giving tenure to women, and re-evaluating Lewis' decision to retain the non-gender-neutral term "freshmen" to refer to first-year students.

We realize that Rome wasn't built in a day and that the problems confronting women at the College will not be solved overnight. We look to the gender committee to take its mission seriously, keep a higher profile, meet often and provide much-needed role models for women at Harvard.

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