Let’s be clear. I was not doing a survey. So I have only heard from those who felt inspired to reach out. As I said above, I was surprised and shocked by the responses to my e-mail, which came from women at all levels.

From a prominent senior faculty member: I have been cut off at faculty meetings, my concerns ignored for years when male colleagues who are not more eminent nor articulate are given the floor. I too am quite sick of it. Sorry to vent but I’m glad that someone has the courage to stand up and act. 

From a junior faculty member: I have also seen slowed promotion for no reason, extra service work, harder teaching loads, no mentoring, no path for career development, people taking credit for my work, and all of the gender related issues that are supposed to be disappearing. Thank you for taking a stand because being a squeaky wheel has only gotten me eye rolls.

In your long career, you have seen so many things for women get better over the years. Why are we still dealing with this today? What has taken so long to overcome this and what is needed in the future to do so? 

I expect there is a lot of literature on the subject. I just saw a new book published by MIT Press called “An Inclusive Academy: Achieving Diversity and Excellence.” Looks good. I just ordered it.

I love to see the progress we have achieved. I was invited to give a “guest appearance” in one of our freshman computer science courses last week. (They were studying the Blum-Blum Shub algorithm.) Half the several hundred students in the class were women. I want to make sure these talented and eager students have every opportunity to move forward in their lives and careers. So obviously, it’s distressing for me to see sexism continue to raise its head, putting roadblocks in the way.

Sexism is deep-seated, not only in our culture but more universally. It’s built into, or enabled by, many of our existing systems, even those we take for granted. This has to be constantly recognized and rectified.

What do you have to say to those who have led to your decision to resign? 

First, I’d like to be clear that for the past three years SCS Dean Andrew Moore has been a constant source of support for me, backing me all the way. I wish the central administration, by contrast, would have taken my complaints more seriously from the start, tried to understand them and not turned me into a constant complainer  a role that I personally found onerous.

Perhaps the central administration could have paid attention and taken action more than a year ago when I wrote an e-mail that contained exactly the same key paragraph as in my resignation letter.

I think that many in the community are aware that all my work at CMU since 1999 has been for constructive change. I have received many accolades for this. I do not doubt that some disagree. I do not doubt that I have made mistakes. But to be told through words and actions by the new central administration that what I had accomplished before it took over did not count, was and is completely unacceptable.

When I was told on Aug. 9 that all entrepreneurial endeavors would have to go through the same entrepreneurial management structure that I have been subjected to for these past several years  which for me was unacceptable  it was clear: What I do best, chart new directions and follow through, would just not be possible anymore at CMU.

Tracy Certo

Tracy is the founder and Editor at Large of NEXTpittsburgh which she started in March 2014 and sold in December 2020. She is passionate about making Pittsburgh a better place for all and connecting people...