Monday, September 9, 2013

On Fostering Gender Equality by Changing Culture

GenderDean Dad has a terrific post -- Egalitarianism Amont the Elites -- on the challenges of Harvard Business School's attempts to engineer gender equality among its students.  The points made in the post could be said equally about higher education generally as well as attempts to foster gender equality above the glass-ceilinged workplace.  Here's an excerpt:

[Tradditionally, Harvard Business School has prepared] students for the world that actually exists; if that world is hard-charging, brutal, hierarchical, and mostly male, then that’s what you prepare them for. 

Apparently, HBS had a change of heart recently, and its most recent graduating class went through an experiment in top-down culture change.  The goal was to help women students be as successful as their male counterparts.  And it’s crashing headfirst into the dilemmas of egalitarianism among elites.  The leadership of the school quickly discovered that students bring their backgrounds and expectations with them, and that the informal, out-of-class culture is much harder to control than classroom discussions.  Some areas of equality, such as gender, are within the bounds of possible (if awkward) discussion; others, such as class, would strike at the heart of the entire enterprise.  As one student put it, I’m paying a half million dollars to be here; I have certain expectations.  Exactly so.

It's worth reading the entire post.

rb

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