Berdahl pledges support for women scientists
Facilities foster interdisciplinary research in health sciences, information technology

By Jeff Holeman, Public Affairs

07 February 2001 | Chancellor Berdahl and the presidents of eight top research universities have pledged to address inequity problems facing women faculty, particularly those in science and engineering.

The agreement was made last week at a day-long conference at MIT. "Institutions of higher education have an obligation, both for themselves and for the nation, to fully develop and utilize all the creative talent available," the leaders said in a unanimous statement. "We recognize that barriers still exist" for women faculty.

The 184-word statement was approved by Berdahl, along with university presidents David Baltimore of the California Institute of Technology, Charles Vest of MIT, Lee Bollinger of the University of Michigan, Harold Shapiro of Princeton University, John Hennessy of Stanford University and Richard Levin of Yale University; and provosts Harvey Fineberg of Harvard University and Robert Barchi of the University of Pennsylvania.

They agreed:

  • to analyze the salaries and the proportion of other university resources provided to women faculty;
  • to work toward a faculty that reflects the diversity of the student body;
  • to reconvene in about a year "to share the specific initiatives we have undertaken to achieve these objectives;"
  • to "recognize that this challenge will require significant review of, and potentially significant change in, the procedures within each university, and within the scientific and engineering establishments as a whole."

Berdahl said the meeting was a brainstorm session to find ways to entice more women into science and engineering careers, particularly in academia. Many ideas were proposed, but Berdahl said Berkeley faces a greater challenge in implementing some ideas because of Proposition 209's elimination of targeted recruitment opporuntities.

"Berkeley will have to be extra creative in our efforts to recruit talented women and minorities to the faculty," he said.

The chancellor's cabinet will look at the ideas presented - along with several related campus initiatives on dealing with recruitment of women and minority faculty - to come up with the best course of action.

"We're obviously concerned that we have the best, most aggressive strategies for recruiting women and minorities to our faculty," Berdahl said.

One idea being considered is for the university to provide more start-up funding for schools and departments when hiring women scientists, Berdahl said. Costs can exceed a million dollars to create a laboratory, purchase equipment, and hire post-docs.

Berkeley participants in the workshop were Alice Agogino, faculty assistant for education development and technology; Jan de Vries, vice provost for academic affairs and faculty welfare; and Judith Klinman, professor of biochemistry and molecular and cell biology.


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Copyright 2001, The Regents of the University of California.
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