GEPAC was created in 2001 and was borne out of efforts, begun in the late 1980’s, to understand and enhance gender equity and climate at the Institution.  In 1988, an Equity Climate Assessment Study was conducted to examine the equity climate at WHOI. Recommendations made in the Final Report of the 1988 study included efforts to attract and retain more women throughout the institution, training in mentoring techniques for junior staff and students, training in supervisory techniques and practices, and education on issues of discrimination and discriminatory behaviors.

In 2000, the Gender Equity Review Committee produced a Gender Equity Report that assessed progress made on “tangible” issue of gender equity, including salaries and resource allocations, and this report recommended that the “intangible issues that directly affect the gender climate in the workplace” should be the focus of separate study.

A 2002 report by the Gender Climate Assessment Advisory Committee assessed the effectiveness of Institutional responses to the 1988 study and the suggestions made in the 2000 report.  The 2002 report concludes that while “progress has been made in the status, population and influence of women at WHOI since the 1988 [study], most of the recommendations made then are still valid and require consistent attention and additional effort to address.”  This report also recommended that a new climate assessment study should be conducted to assess progress on climate issues.

An outcome of the 2000 and 2002 reports was the creation of WHOI’s Gender Equity Program Advisory Committee (GEPAC), which is charged with providing advice and feedback to the President and Director on institutional programs to promote equity.

Since 2001, GEPAC has focused on educating the WHOI community on issues related to gender equity and climate through hosting speakers and mini-workshops and reviewing and posting gender-related employment statistics.  GEPAC has provided advice on particular topics the Director. In response to other surveys [e.g., Clancy study], at the Director’s request GEPAC was engaged in the design and execution of the 2016 Workplace Climate Survey which included gender climate and sexual harassment at WHOI and in the field.  The results of that study are likely to shape the focus of GEPAC over the next several years.