Sunday, September 8, 2013

Some of the First Years Had Never Had a Female Professor -- Gender Inequality at Harvard Business School

I was busy trying to finish writing a research paper, before putting final touches on a lecture together plus completing a presentation on supply chains that I will be giving later this week in Zurich, Switzerland, and that my hosts wanted a copy of two days ago.

My husband distracted me by saying: "you must read this -- the article is unbelievable." He was referring to the front page article in today's New York Times, "Harvard Case Study: Gender Equity," by Jodi Kantor, which then proceeds to an additional 2 full pages!.

The article is on gender issues at the elite Harvard Business School (HBS).

The article has some striking (not positive) statistics, some of which I proceeded to verify and found on the Harvard Business School (HBS) website that, indeed, there are are only 19 female Full Professors and 76 male ones at HBS.


2012-2013 Male Female Total
Professors 76 19 95
Baker Foundation Professors 6 0 6
Professors of Management Practice 15 2 17
Associate Professors 28 12 40
Assistant Professors 30 16 46
Visiting Faculty 3 0 3
Other Teaching Appointments 38 5 43
Other Research Appointments 8 2 10
Total Faculty 204 56 260
On Leave 4 0 4

 The article describes what has been deemed  a two year experiment at HBS to do a "gender makeover, by changing its curriculum, rules and social rituals to foster female success."
Leading the charge has been the relatively new dean of HBS, Dr. Nitin Nohria, who, I might add, has a PhD from the Sloan School at MIT and is the father of two daughters, with assistance provided by Dr. Frances Frei, who is an Operations Management Professor, with a PhD from Wharton. I have tried to get Professor Frei to come and speak at the Isenberg School, but reading this article, I can see why she has been justifiably too busy to accept the invitation.
Several of my former undergraduate Operations Management students at the Isenberg School have gone on to receive MBAs from HBS and, since I was a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Fellow, I am officially a Harvard alum, so this article was very painful for me to read.
I have written, on several occasions, on this blog about MBA gender inequities. including that of salaries and The New York Times article had the illuminating graphic below, which shows how the gender MBA salary gap increases post graduation.

Part of the gender problem is that there is an insufficient number of female faculty in the pipeline and some have left for such reasons as, according to The Times: uncertainty over maternity leave, a lack of opportunity to write papers with senior professors and students who destroyed confidence by pelting them with math questions they could not answer on the spot or commenting on what they wore.

The filled circles in the graphic above represent tenured faculty. Among the females I could identify as one of the circles (filled in) above is a fellow Brown University classmate of mine, Professor Janice Hammond, who received her PhD from the Sloan School and whose dissertation advisor at MIT was Tom Magnanti. Her dissertation was on variational inequalities, as was mine at Brown. Jan lived on my floor freshman year. So, yes, women can be very good at math and love it, despite what the article says! Tom Davenport, in his best-selling book, Keeping Up with the Quants, mentions Jan. Jan was also an Applied Math major at Brown with me. She, as Frances Frei, has published in operations research and management science journals.

Many females love equations and are very good at them and are faculty at business schools! Is Harvard scared of some of them?!

Notice, from the above graphic, that only 1 female has been tenured at HBS in the last decade!

Harvard hired stenographers (are we going back to the 1950s?) to take notes in classes since 50% of the course grades at HBS are due to class participation and data was needed to back up who was speaking up  in class and why female students were consistently getting lower grades although  female students were great on exams. Also, Harvard "taught" females to raise their hands -- honestly, I find this rather strange -- this is needed by the students who get into HBS?

Princeton Review consistently ranks the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst where I teach as one of the top schools for Greatest Opportunities for Women -- perhaps HBS can learn from us!