Quick Hit: What happened when Harvard Business School performed a two year gender ‘experiment’?

What happens when one of the world’s premier Business Schools can’t achieve its own stated institutional goal – for gender equity and equal opportunity?

Harvard Business School (HBS) wanted to improve the gender balance among its faculty members and provide more opportunities and see better performance among its female students. But for years, they had trouble seeing results.

According to the NY Times, this inspired action along the lines of a “far-fetched feminist fantasy” involving a total gender makeover, changing its curriculum, rules and social rituals to foster female success. The results were outstanding, according to the report:

By graduation, the school had become a markedly better place for female students, according to interviews with more than 70 professors, administrators and students, who cited more women participating in class, record numbers of women winning academic awards and a much-improved environment, down to the male students drifting through the cafeteria wearing T-shirts celebrating the 50th anniversary of the admission of women. Women at the school finally felt like, “ ‘Hey, people like me are an equal part of this institution,’ ” said Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a longtime professor.

Check out the full case study in the Times and let us know what you think. Do you wish your school would take some of these measure to achieve better gender equity?

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Lori Adelman is Executive Director of Partnerships at Feministing, where she enjoys creating and curating content on gender, race, class, technology, and the media. Lori is also an advocacy and communications professional specializing in sexual and reproductive rights and health, and currently works in the Global Division of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. A graduate of Harvard University, she lives in Brooklyn.

Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships.

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