MIT Sloan Distinguished Professor of Management; Professor of Communication and Organization Studies
Teaching at MIT Sloan since: 1980
During the mid-1980s there were only five women faculty, and we used to have regular dinners together. The number of female faculty members has greatly increased since then, and students will have several of us for classes in the first year.
The percentage of female students has also increased. Over a decade ago, I was on a committee attempting to raise the number of women students. We found that when prospective students noticed that they lacked an admission requirement, the men generally said, “I can take it the summer before,” while the women often said, “I can't apply there.” The truth is, they can pick up some requirements after they apply, something we try to make clearer to potential applicants now. I encourage anyone considering MIT Sloan to sit in on classes. Coming here to see what it's really like helped a couple of recent prospective students make their final decisions. They found they had kindred souls here!
Today's MBAs realize the value of communications early on in their studies — most during the core Communication for Managers course or during their first summer jobs! All of our students give multiple individual presentations in small labs and watch themselves on video. We also link some assignments with other classes such as Organizational Processes (OP). Students enjoy our course and OP as the only non-quantitative courses within the core. In general, today's students are more open to thinking about communication and how important it is to their careers.
Because of the multidisciplinary atmosphere at MIT Sloan, I've done much better work here than I would have in a different setting. I also enjoy using my teaching and research to illuminate management issues.
I came to MIT Sloan with a doctorate in English, so I've been interdisciplinary from the start. My research program looks at how communication and information technology are used both historically and in contemporary organizations. These two sets of research speak to very different academic audiences, but each has informed the other. In the contemporary stream, I've collaborated with Wanda Orlikowski in the Information Technology (IT) group for over a decade. We have used the notion of genre from rhetoric to explain how people communicate when they move into a new medium such as e-mail or instant messaging.What expectations and habits do they import from the genres they know? What can you learn about a group or team by observing the communication genres they use? We have combined different disciplinary backgrounds in a common stream of research.