MIT biologist to speak on women's progress in science

March 25, 2009 3:16 p.m.

Nancy Hopkins, a developmental biologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-author of a gender bias study that brought national attention to the issue of equity for female scientists, will speak at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 31, in McCosh 10.

Her address is titled "Mirages of Equality: Progress of Women in Science at MIT, 1971-2009."

A Harvard Ph.D., Hopkins is the Amgen Inc. Professor of Biology at MIT, where she works in the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research on the genetic basis for developmental processes. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a member of the Institute of Medicine of the academy and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

From 1995 to 1997, Hopkins chaired MIT's first Committee on Women Faculty in the School of Science. The committee's findings were published in 1999. Endorsed by then-president Charles Vest, the report led to reforms at MIT as well as to an examination of gender equity issues at other academic institutions.

Following a speech in 2005 by Lawrence Summers, then-president of Harvard, that launched once again a debate about women in science, Hopkins served on a committee of the National Academy of Sciences that reviewed the research literature on women's scientific aptitude. The committee's report "Beyond Bias and Barriers," was published in 2007 and called for a more aggressive approach to gender bias in the interest of both fairness and American competitiveness in the global market.

Hopkins' lecture is funded by the Louis Clark Vanuxem Fund and is part of the University Public Lecture Series.