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Affirmative Action Plan Released

Calls Progress in Recruiting Female Faculty 'Disappointingly Slow'

By Georgia N. Alexakis

Outlining the increased number of women and minorities who have joined the ranks of the University's senior faculty, the 1997 Affirmative Action Plan also reports "disappointingly slow" progress in the percentage of women among tenured members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS).

Prepared by the office of Associate Vice President James S. Hoyte, the annual plan reports that since 1991, 20 of 84 Faculty appointments (24 percent) have been women. This is an increase from the 15 percent that was attained during the preceding five-year interval.

But despite these gains, women represent only 11.5 percent of the senior professors in the Faculty, according to the report.

"They are much higher numbers than they have been historically, but it's a slow process," said Professor of Education Judith D. Singer of the Graduate School of Education, who received tenure three years ago. "We only tenure a few people each year, so the number won't change instantaneously, but Harvard had made great strides."

According to the report, five-year trends (1991-1996) across Harvard's nine faculties, including Medicine, show a net increase from 85 to 128 in the number of senior women faculty members, and from 74 to 95 in the ranks of senior minority faculty.

In a news release, Hoyte expressed enthusiasm for the University's "long-standing commitment to equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion."

"I am encouraged that Harvard's senior management and governing bodies remain convinced that this community must continue to strive to accomplish such goals," Hoyte said.

The report also included statistics on minority appointments which continue to be underrepresented in relation to total senior faculty positions.

But minority representation in the ranks of associate and assistant professors is currently 15 percent and exceeds the 13 percent "availability" rate. The availability rate is based on the percentage of new minority Ph.D. recipients in the fields in which the FAS seeks to appoint new faculty members.

"If the University is going to engage the wide range of diversity in the populations, it needs to face this issue head on by recruiting professors of different backgrounds," said Professor of Education Marcelo M. Suarez-Orozco at the Graduate School of Education, who received tenure last year.

To increase their representation in the ranks of tenured faculty, the University should openly recruit women and minorities, Singer said.

"They need to show them that Harvard is a great place," she said. "They also need to open up the pipelines in the graduate programs. If we don't have the students in these areas, especially the sciences, then we won't have the faculty."

Yet others disagree with Singer's open recruitment policy.

"The University should make the same effort to recruit female and minority professors that they make to recruit male and majority professors," said Kenan Professor of Government Harvey C. Mansfield '53. "I don't see a need for an increase in minority and female professors who are not equal to their majority and male peers."

The recent affirmative action plan is simply "the same old stuff," according to Mansfield.

"Harvard hasn't made any concessions to the change of opinion in the country and in the courts," he said, referring to the nationwide backlash against affirmative-action and diversity programs.

Mansfield also said he believes that the plan is contradictory.

"Harvard says it has a nondiscrimination policy for its hiring practices when we know very well that affirmative action is discriminatory," he said. "We just have to hope that [the increased number of females and minorities awarded tenures] was done on the basis of merit and not affirmative action.

To increase their representation in the ranks of tenured faculty, the University should openly recruit women and minorities, Singer said.

"They need to show them that Harvard is a great place," she said. "They also need to open up the pipelines in the graduate programs. If we don't have the students in these areas, especially the sciences, then we won't have the faculty."

Yet others disagree with Singer's open recruitment policy.

"The University should make the same effort to recruit female and minority professors that they make to recruit male and majority professors," said Kenan Professor of Government Harvey C. Mansfield '53. "I don't see a need for an increase in minority and female professors who are not equal to their majority and male peers."

The recent affirmative action plan is simply "the same old stuff," according to Mansfield.

"Harvard hasn't made any concessions to the change of opinion in the country and in the courts," he said, referring to the nationwide backlash against affirmative-action and diversity programs.

Mansfield also said he believes that the plan is contradictory.

"Harvard says it has a nondiscrimination policy for its hiring practices when we know very well that affirmative action is discriminatory," he said. "We just have to hope that [the increased number of females and minorities awarded tenures] was done on the basis of merit and not affirmative action.

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