Response to the Report of the National Academies Committee on Women in Science, Engineering and Medicine

The National Academies Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine (the “Committee”) published a report entitled Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the “Report”). The Report offers recommendations on how institutions can more successfully address and prevent sexual harassment.

In response to this important Report, President Reif has asked the Chancellor, Provost, Institute Professor Sheila Widnall, Chair of the Faculty, Professor Leslie Kolodziejski, Chair of the Committee on Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response, Professor Susan Silbey, the Vice President and General Counsel, the Vice President for Human Resources, and the Vice President for Research to serve as members of a presidential advisory board (the “Board”). The Board will meet regularly with the co-chairs of four working groups, receive and review recommendations from the working groups, and report on ways that MIT can learn from the Report to enhance the learning, working, and research culture at MIT. The working groups will request student and postdoc participation and will seek consultation and input from the Committee on Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response and any other relevant standing committees, student and postdoc leaders, and other community representatives in preparing their reports. The working groups will report to the community and the Board in fall 2019.

  1. The Leadership and Engagement Working Group is co-chaired by Special Advisor to Provost, Alyce Johnson and Maryanne Kirkbride, Executive Administrator of MindHandHeart. Other members of the group are:
    Ramona Allen, Vice President for Human Resources
    Chris Bourg, Director of Libraries
    Corinne Carpenter, Postdoc, Chemical Engineering
    Professor Craig Carter, Materials Science and Engineering
    Meghan Davis '21, Biological Engineering
    Mahi Elango '20, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
    Leah Ellis, Postdoc, Materials Science and Engineering
    Ken Goldsmith, Assistant Dean for Finance and Administration, School of Architecture and Planning
    Kim Haberlin, Senior Advisor, Office of the Chancellor
    DiOnetta Jones Crayton, Associate Dean and Director, Office of Minority Education
    Bianca Arielle Lepe, graduate student, Biological Engineering
    Kate McCarthy, Associate Dean, Student Support and Wellbeing
    Judy Robinson, Senior Associate Dean, Residential Education
    Dayang Wang, Postdoc, Civil and Environmental Engineering
     
  2. The Training and Prevention Working Group will be co-chaired by Director of IDHR and Title IX Coordinator, Sarah Rankin, and Libby Mahaffy, HR Diversity and Inclusion Specialist. Other members of the group are:
    Beatriz Cantada, Program Director, ICEO
    Darcy Gordon, Postdoc, Biology
    Jimmy Doan, Assistant Dean, CARE Team
    Bianca Kaushal, Education Specialist, Title IX and Bias Response Office
    Catherine Kim, Assistant Dean for HR and Administration, School of Engineering
    Laura Liao '20, Biology
    Janet Rankin, Director, Teaching and Learning Laboratory
    Vienna Rothberg, Program Manager, Violence Prevention and Response
    Garima Sharma, graduate student, Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences
     
  3. The Policies and Reporting Working Group will be co-chaired by Policy and Compliance Specialist, Marianna Pierce, and Assistant Provost, Doreen Morris. Other members of the group are:
    Kelley Adams, Assistant Dean and Director, Violence Prevention and Response
    Byron Drury, Postdoc, Physics
    Mary Markel Murphy, Senior Associate Dean, Office of the Vice Chancellor
    Kate Miller, Manager of Institutional Compliance, Risk Management & Compliance Services
    Sarah Rankin, Director and Title IX Coordinator, Title IX and Bias Response Office
    Allison Romantz, Counsel, Office of the General Counsel
    Lianne Shields, Director, Human Resources
    Heather Williams, Assistant Dean, School of Science
    Rebecca Elizabeth Zubajlo, graduate student, Mechanical Engineering
     
  4. The Academic and Organizational Relationships Working Group will be co-chaired by Professor Tim Jamison and Professor Paula Hammond. Other members of the group are:
    Molly Bird, graduate student, Biological Engineering
    Professor Peko Hosoi, Associate Dean, School of Engineering
    Isabel Nocedal, Postdoc, Biology
    Professor Georgia Perakis, Management and Operations Management and Operations Research and Statistics
    Professor Rebecca Saxe, Brain and Cognitive Sciences
    Professor David Singer, Department Head, Political Science; Secretary of the Faculty
    Associate Professor Justin Steil, Law and Urban Planning
    Ian Waitz, Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate and Graduate Education; Jerome C. Hunsaker Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics

The Charges:

The Leadership and Engagement Working Group

This Working Group is being asked to review the Committee’s proposals regarding institutional leadership and community engagement. In developing recommendations, the working group should consider: the Committee’s underlying findings; MIT’s goal of eliminating sexual harassment at the Institute; MIT leadership’s prior initiatives and communications regarding sexual harassment; MIT’s current community engagement practices; and the leadership initiatives and community-engagement models of MIT’s peer institutions. 

Specifically, the charge is:

1. Describe opportunities for MIT leadership to be more explicit or visible in conveying MIT’s goal of preventing and reducing sexual harassment, including encouraging reporting and progress made.

2. Identify any training opportunities for MIT leadership and the larger MIT community on conflict resolution, mediation, negotiation, and de-escalation.

3. Describe ways community leaders at all levels can be utilized to foster a climate where reporting is encouraged and sexual harassment is not tolerated, including climate survey practices.

The Training and Prevention Working Group

This Working Group is being asked to review the Committee’s proposals regarding training and community-support practices. In developing recommendations, the working group should consider: the CWSEM’s underlying findings; MIT’s goal of eliminating sexual harassment at the Institute; MIT’s current training practices and resources; MIT’s current support practices and resources; best practices of MIT’s peer institutions; and any lessons learned from experiences at MIT. 

Specifically, the charge is:

1. Develop an inventory of MIT’s training practices and educational materials relating to sexual harassment, and make recommendations on the following training items with recommended action plans:

  • Addressing all the forms of sexual harassment identified in the CWSEM Report, including gender harassment.
  • Addressing unconscious bias and promoting civility, professionalism, diversity, safety, and respect.
  • Developing training practices/materials targeted towards MIT’s various populations (e.g., staff, faculty, students, etc.).
  • Promoting bystander intervention and other ways to encourage positive behavior.
  • A review of current resources in this area.

2. Describe any opportunities for MIT to further encourage the reporting of sexual harassment, including through informal channels.

3. Identify any metrics MIT could use to measure the success of trainings, community outreach initiatives, and reporting resources.

The Policies and Reporting Working Group

This Working Group is being asked to review the Committee’s proposals regarding internal policies and community-reporting practices. In developing recommendations, the working group should consider: the Committee’s underlying findings; MIT’s goal of eliminating sexual harassment at the Institute; MIT’s current policies and practices relating to sexual harassment; MIT’s current practices relating to community reporting; the relevant policies and practices of MIT’s peer institutions; lessons learned from recent experiences at MIT; and MIT’s efforts to modify the complaint resolution procedures for cases against faculty and staff.

Specifically, the charge is:

1. Review MIT’s policies and recommend any enhancements to ensure they describe MIT’s values and behavioral expectations and prohibit all the forms of sexual harassment identified in the Report, including gender harassment.

2. Make recommendations on how the policies can be more clear, more consistent, and more transparent to MIT’s community members.

3. Review the policies and recommend any enhancements on appropriate discipline and consequences for severe and/or frequent sexual misconduct.

4. Review MIT’s policies against retaliation and provide any recommended enhancements.

5. Review MIT’s policies on sanctions taking close view to sanctions that might actually benefit the responsible party and measures to respond to a complainant’s access to MIT’s programs and activities.

6. Make recommendations on enhancing MIT’s policies to promote general civility and professionalism, in addition to forbidding sexual harassment.

7. Review informal reporting avenues for community members alleging sexual harassment and make any recommendations for enhancement.

The Academic and Organizational Relationships Working Group

This Working Group is being asked to review the Committee’s proposals regarding power imbalances inherit in research institutions. In developing recommendations, the working group should consider: the Committee’s underlying findings; MIT’s goal of eliminating sexual harassment at the Institute; the organizational structures of MIT’s various departments, labs, and centers; MIT’s operational needs; and any outside restrictions (including funding restrictions) that may bear on MIT’s organizational practices.

Specifically, the charge is:

1. Identify all dependent relationships that exist across the Institute with specific focus on faculty and graduate students and make recommendations on:

  • Supporting various research and academic relationships
  • Enhance mentoring networks
  • Analyze recommendations on research funding, advising, and supervision

2. Identify and making recommendations to address any organizational or operational conditions that present obstacles to the reporting or elimination of sexual harassment, including ways to make organizational structures “flatter” and more egalitarian.