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MIT to seek out women faculty

By Karen Kaplan

Provost Mark S. Wrighton last month announced a new program to increase the number of women on the MIT faculty. The three-part program comes in response to recommendations made recently by the Equal Opportunity Committee.

"I always welcome the opportunity to discuss the possible appointment of any exceptional candidate to the MIT faculty," said Wrighton in a letter to the Academic Council in July. "However, beyond this, specific, additional efforts are needed to increase the number of women on the faculty."

The aggressive recruitment program includes:

1/3 The establishment of a fund to bring women to MIT as "faculty visitors and distinguished lecturers," according to the letter. This should make the Institute more familiar with outstanding women who qualify for faculty positions. It should also serve to acquaint students, post-doctoral associates, and faculty here with potential women faculty members. The Office of the Provost plans to spend $50,000 on this annually.

1/3 Special incentives for departments where women represent less than one quarter of the faculty. In these departments, if a woman is appointed to an open position for an assistant, associate or full professor, the department's general operating budget will be increased by $30,000. If there are no open positions, special arrangements can be made to appoint women to the faculty.

1/3 Increased emphasis on the Ellen Swallow Richards Professorship, which is used to attract outstanding senior women to the faculty. The chair, which has an emphasis on the natural sciences and engineering, is tenable for five years and will be available again next September.

The objective of the program is to "attract and retain high quality women faculty," Wrighton wrote.

Wrighton asked each department to make a senior faculty member responsible for developing and maintaining files on women who could be candidates for MIT faculty positions. The representatives from each department were encouraged to meet with each other and with the provost to discuss effective ways of increasing the number of women and minorities on the faculty.

In the last academic year, women accounted for just under 10 percent of the faculty members here, with 93 of the 941 faculty members. Twenty seven percent of MIT's 9,628 students are women.

Due to the Labor Day holiday, Wrighton was unavailable for comment.