Monday, April 09, 2012

Striking Infographic of the Day

Like the previous infographic, this one too is about women in MIT. Specifically, the number of women faculty in MIT's School of Science during the period 1963-2006, taken from Prof. Nancy Hopkins' article -- Diversification of a University Faculty: Observations on Hiring Women Faculty in the Schools of Science and Engineering at MIT -- published in the March/April 2006 issue of MIT Faculty News Letter.

The two big jumps, one in the early 1970s and the other in the late 1990s, are striking, aren't they? Here's Prof. Hopkins:

igure 3a shows the total number of tenured and untenured women faculty in all six departments in the School of Science from 1963 (when there was a single woman faculty member) through 2005 (when there were 36 women faculty). The curve rises steeply twice: once between 1972-1976 and once between 1997-2000. These rises do not reflect contemporaneous increases in the size of the faculty during those periods. The number of male faculty at several relevant years is shown in the numbers at the top of the graph. The number of male faculty actually decreased (from 259 to 229) during the rise in female faculty between1997-2000, due to an early retirement program. As of 2006, there were 36 female faculty and 240 male faculty in the School of Science at MIT.

I deduce that the first sharp rise in the number of women faculty in Science, beginning in 1972, is the result of pressures associated with the Civil Rights Act and affirmative action regulations. In particular, in 1971 Secretary of Labor George Schultz ordered compliance reviews of hiring policies of women in universities. All institutions receiving federal funding were required to have such plans in effect as of that year. In addition, a group of women faculty and staff worked to persuade MIT to hire more women faculty at this time (M. Potter, personal communication). The second sharp rise, between 1997-2000, directly resulted from Dean Birgeneau’s response to the 1996 Report on Women Faculty.


  1. Wavefunction said...

    Worth noting that Schultz taught at MIT before become Secretary of Labor.