I have not attended Harvard Business School, nor have I worked in the professional business market therefore, I consider myself to be somewhat ignorant to the challenges faced by female students and female members of the business world. With that being said, I find it hard to judge whether or not Harvard Business School is doing enough to address the apparent gender inequity. After reading this article, it seems to me that more is being done for the image of the school than is being done to assist the female students or aid in their success post-graduation. I say this because, the article talked about how most of the students disagreed with the actions of the school and felt that the dean’s emphasis on gender was being forced down their throats. Also because, based on my interpretation of the article, Ms. Frei was mainly concerned with the ratio of female faculty members at the school and their success in achieving tenure.
The actions of the staff at Harvard Business School follow what our reading calls radical feminism. These faculty members were aiming to attack to the root cause of the gender inequity to fix the issue. According to Nina Rosenstand (2013) “the main point of radical feminism is not to mount the barricades but to seek out and expose the root of the problem of gender discrimination”. Later in the reading, she goes on to say “The goal of the radical feminism is thus to raise the individual awareness of what the patriarchal tradition has done to us, men as well as women” (Rosenstand, 2013). At the time this article was written I do not that think they were wholly successful, although progress has been made. This is something that will take continued work to achieve.
Harvard Business School is taking a strong proactive approach toward impacting the business and social world in a way that will promote gender equality. The University’s long efforts to equally recruit and retain professors of both sexes are evidence of their commitment, yet they learned the ineffectiveness of their well intentioned efforts. Furthermore, the poor results evidenced by the trend of junior female professors departing the school of business due to pressures brought by the male students and possibly some of the male faculty are symptomatic of the very issue they are attempting to overcome.
Focused efforts to coach female professors through to improve their success, targeted behavior training to level the field for female and male students (aggressiveness seems to be one of the keys), and social integration into the learning environment may launch the beginning of long term change. Ultimately, the question of instinctive mating habits of humans that interfere with professional and business development will be the sticking point for the proposed concept of successful gender equality in such a setting.
The root cause of gender equality discrepancies still stems from the lack of clarity around its definition. Does equality refer to position, title, pay, recognition, job and career satisfaction, social standing, or personal and social satisfaction? I wondered, as I read the article, if the teaching of women to thrust their hand and assert themselves aggressively, in a way that was unnatural for themselves, honors feminism. Teach a woman to mimic the aggressiveness of overly competitive men, or teach those dominant type males to temper themselves… I cannot say if this experiment will reach the intended objective, but it is just that, an experiment.