Campus & Community

Task Forces and Office of Work/Life reach out

4 min read

The Office of Work/Life Resources and the Task Forces on Women Faculty and Women in Science and Engineering have increased outreach to the Harvard community this week, including the start of an assessment of child-care needs across the University and the announcement of two additional individuals working with the Task Forces to enhance confidential communications between the committees and women faculty, students, and staff.

Child-care needs

Conducted by Bright Horizons Family Solutions, the child-care review will assess demand for child-care services and identify gaps in Harvard’s present offerings intended to support working parents. It will include a review of policies, programs, demographic and geographic data, and benchmark comparisons with peer institutions and employers. The Office of Work/Life Resources, a division of the Office of Human Resources, will coordinate the assessment for Harvard.

As part of the study, 12 focus groups will be conducted in the coming weeks to hear firsthand about the child-care issues facing faculty, graduate and professional students, and staff at Harvard. A campus-wide survey will be conducted later in the spring to more fully investigate employee needs for dependent care (children and elders) as well as employee awareness and perception of Harvard’s commitment to work/life integration.

Study information,

Task Force updates

Task Force developments this week included the naming of Linda Wilcox of Harvard Medical School (HMS) to serve as an ombudsperson to the Task Forces to hear confidential issues related to diversity and gender equity. Wilcox has been working as an ombudsperson at HMS since 1991. Faculty, staff, and students wishing to discuss any issues in a private and confidential setting should e-mail, or call 617-432-4040.

The Task Forces also have established a formal “listening” function that will provide an additional confidential setting for faculty to share their stories and experiences. The key difference between this function and the ombudsperson function is that the listener’s objective will be to document patterns and identify systemic issues. While no individual’s data will be shared, the listener will prepare summary reports describing key trends. These trends will be shared with the Task Forces, which will then use these patterns to sharpen their understanding of issues that need to be addressed through recommendations and creative solutions.

Phyllis Keller, a former senior administrator in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, will serve as the listener on behalf of the Task Forces. She can be emailed at to set up an appointment.

Additional information about the Task Forces’ work can be obtained at the Task Forces’ Web site at The Web site lists the committees’ charges, news, memberships, and links to relevant sites and reports.

Ideas may be shared with the committee by e-mailing committee staff member Amy Paradis at

Recent and upcoming events

  • Two forums for female postdoctoral fellows were held on March 14 and 23. Conducted by the Task Force on Women in Science and Engineering, women shared their thoughts and gave suggestions on how Harvard could improve the postdoctoral experience for women and better equip them for successful and productive careers in science.
  • On March 16 Evelynn Hammonds, chair of the Task Force on Women Faculty, met with a small group of minority women faculty representing schools across the University including the Design School, Business School, Kennedy School, School of Public Health, Graduate School of Education, and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The ideas and concerns shared at this meeting will be integrated into the Task Force’s deliberations and recommendations moving forward.
  • On March 21, the Radcliffe Institute and the Harvard Graduate School of Education co-sponsored a panel titled “Impediments to Change: Revisiting the Women in Science Question.”
  • On April 7-10, the National Symposium on the Advancement of Women in Science will feature opening remarks by Barbara Grosz, chairperson of the Task Force on Women in Science and Engineering, Dean of Science at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and Higgins Professor of Natural Sciences.
  • “Innate Confusions: Nature, Nurture, and All of That,” the final lecture in the Radcliffe Institute’s annual Dean’s Lecture Series, April 7 with Evelynn Fox Keller, 2004-2005 Radcliffe Institute fellow and professor of the history and philosophy of science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For more information visit
  • “Designing Biology,” an interdisciplinary conference on the principles and behaviors of biological systems to be held on May 6, cosponsored by the Radcliffe Institute, the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center, and Biomechanics at Harvard University: An NSF-IGERT Supported Ph.D. Program. For a list of speakers and other details, visit