Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria Apologizes For Decades of Sexism On Campus

This week, Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria daringly apologized for the sexism on campus that has been endemic since women were first admitted in 1963. He told an audience of 600 alumni and guests at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in San Francisco that women at Harvard could feel “disrespected, left out, and unloved by the school. I’m sorry on behalf of the business school,” he continued. “The school owed you better, and I promise it will be better.”

Sexism has long permeated the Harvard Business School, from a reluctance to make women tenured professors to the hazing of female freshmen. But Nohria also said he would “work relentlessly” to make “the entire school … more open and encouraging to women.”

"I’m sorry on behalf of the business school. The school owed you better, and I promise it will be better.” -Nitin Nohria

What does this mean in practice? Well, Harvard Business School now has note-takers in classrooms to record who speaks, sexual violence workshops, and class participation training. So far, this all seems to be working. In 2013, Nohria told the audience, 41 percent of first-year students were women, up from 25 percent two decades ago.

It remains to be seen whether Nohria is truly dedicated to eradicating sexism on campus. But for now, the fact alone that he publicly apologized for decades of damage speaks volumes, and marks an encouraging step closer for women at Harvard Business School.