Friday, February 9, 2007

Harvard Soon to Elect First Female President!

I just received some news that made me giddy. Drew Faust, currently dean of Radcliffe and feminist scholar, is likely to be named the first female President of Harvard!

I am thrilled. In my undergraduate involvement with the Radcliffe Union of Students (formerly the student union of Radcliffe, but after the merger of Radcliffe and Harvard, became more a women's / feminist group that tried to encourage dialogue around women's issues at Harvard - of which there were many), I had the opportunity to speak with Dean Faust on several occasions and was always impressed by the way she was thinking about issues on campus.

It's about damn time that we have a female president too. Outsiders might be surprised to know that the legacy of Harvard being an all-male school for hundreds of years has created a true bias against female undergraduates.

This is most salient when it comes to Harvard's real-estate and endowment rich male-only "finals clubs" -- the Harvard version of Princeton's eating clubs. Oh boy could I go into a long post about that, and maybe I will one day...

But it is also apparent in the myriad of student organizations at Harvard. Take a simple example: A capella clubs. The men's a capella club at Harvard (let's take the Dins, for examples) has a long history at Harvard and thus a large endowment. Every summer they go on a huge (expensive) international trip to beautiful locations for singing engagements. Their poorer female counterpart, the Tonics, however don't have the same history i.e., endowment. As a result, they might do a small tour in the Northeast, but nothing in comparison to their rich male counterpart.

I could give dozens of other examples (don't get me started about the rugby team! The men's team was founded 100 years before the women's team, so the women's team is forever the poor, car-pooling cousin of our richer coach-bus male counterparts.)

These might sound like small insignificant trivialities, but when the discrepancy between women and men's organizations is almost an institutional truth, it is all too obvious that there is still a long way to go at Harvard towards gender equality.

Here is the NYTimes article.


Ken Berger said...

When it's your turn to run, you'll have my vote!