Monday, February 3, 2014

Follow Up: Harvard B-School Says It is Improving Itself

Some loyal blog readers may recall our earlier posts (back in September) on attempts to reform a reported frat house climate of the Harvard Business School.  We carried this quote from the NY Times:

(M)any Wall Street-hardened women confided that Harvard was worse than any trading floor, with first-year students divided into sections that took all their classes together and often developed the overheated dynamics of reality shows. Some male students, many with finance backgrounds, commandeered classroom discussions and hazed female students and younger faculty members, and openly ruminated on whom they would “kill, sleep with or marry” (in cruder terms). Alcohol-soaked social events could be worse...

That report was followed by another a couple of days later, also linked to a NY Times report:
...In recent years, second-year students have organized a midwinter ski trip that costs over $1,000, while others, including members of “Section X,” a secret society of ultrawealthy students, spend far more on weekend party trips to places like Iceland and Moscow... “Class was the bigger divide than gender when I was at H.B.S.,” said (a student), who graduated in 2010. 

Now there is more follow up making the rounds on various websites:

The dean of the Harvard Business School made an extraordinary public apology last night (Jan. 27) in San Francisco for his school’s past behavior toward women. At a ballroom in the Ritz Carlton Hotel before 600 alumni and guests, Dean Nitin Nohria acknowledged that HBS had sometimes offensively treated its own female students and professors. Nohria conceded there were times when women at Harvard felt “disrespected, left out, and unloved by the school. I’m sorry on behalf of the business school,” he told a hushed room. “The school owed you better, and I promise it will be better.”

Among other things, he pledged to more than double the percentage of women who are protagonists in Harvard case studies over the next five years to 20%. Currently, about 9% of Harvard case studies—which account for 80% of the cases studied at business schools around the world—have women as protagonists. He said he would meet with HBS faculty on Wednesday (Jan. 29) to discuss the objective. Many of the women in the audience, including more than 100 Harvard alumnae who were being honored by the HBS Association of Northern California for their impact on business and community, let out a audible sigh at the 20% goal, thinking it was not ambitious enough. But they were unaware that the dean’s objective would amount to a more than doubling of the current cases in which women are portrayed as central leaders in business problems...

At the event, Nohria said that a record 41% of this year’s entering class of MBAs were women, up from 35% ten years ago and only 25% in the Class of 1985. “A lot of people wondered if we had to put a thumb on the scale,” he said, to reach the record female enrollment number. “Everyone of those women deserve to be at Harvard Business School.” ...

(T)his year Harvard Business School expects to pay out $32 million in scholarship assistance to its roughly 1,800 MBA students. That’s up from $28 million in 2010...

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