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Darrion Sprueill
ADVANCE AU Senior Project Manager

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ADVANCE AU Creating Gender and Racial Equity Among STEM Faculty

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant numbers 1937035 (Catalyst) and 1760585 (Adaptation).

Register for the Spring 2024 Symposium on Gender and Race in STEM - April 11, 2024

ADVANCE AU Fall 2023 Updates 

ADVANCE AU is pleased to announce three exciting initiatives for Fall 2023. AU received an ADVANCE Adaptation grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2022 to:  

1) support STEM faculty research and scholarship, with a particular focus on women;  

2) improve campus climate by clarifying and executing new tenure promotion policies that integrate diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracist perspectives; and  

3) increase STEM faculty members’ feelings of belongingness, particularly those that self-identify as women and/or underrepresented minorities.   

Inaugural Symposium on Gender and Race in STEM 

We held an inaugural symposium on gender and race in STEM on Oct. 12, 2023. The goal was to provide an opportunity for STEM faculty and students to connect with each other across the university, provide guidance on career development, and to begin exploring the ways that STEM faculty at AU can continue to thrive. Thirty participants spent half a day engaging with one another on a range of topics facing women and underrepresented groups in STEM including ways to find mentorship, research funding, and community in the field. A highlight of the day was a career panel of faculty and one alumna from a cross section of career trajectories and disciplines in STEM engaging with participants on their experiences and career paths. We want to thank our panelists Professors Meg Bentley (CAS), Kenjus Watson (SOE), and Aarushi Sahejpal (SOC) and alumna Cathy Furlong (statistics) for leading such great discussions. Most importantly, several participants made important connections with others on research synergies and potential areas of collaboration. One participant shared their view about the impact of the symposium, “Having the chance to talk to colleagues at our tables was quite valuable, and is often missing from other events.” 

Pilot Peer Mentoring Cohorts 

We also launched our inaugural peer mentoring cohorts to provide connection and support to STEM faculty seeking promotion. We have two cohorts in this pilot year, one for associate professors looking for support as they consider promotion to full professor, led by Dean of CAS, Linda Aldoory. The other cohort is for term faculty at any rank considering promotion, led by Professor Meg Bentley, a Hurst Senior Professorial Lecturer. These cohorts are diverse in terms of school, discipline, rank, number of years at AU, race and ethnicity, gender, and ability. The cohorts will meet on a monthly basis to learn from one another and their cohort leader on topics related to promotion and advancement at AU. After this pilot year, we hope to expand this mentorship program to additional cohorts and additional ranks of faculty.  

Congratulations to this year’s cohort members who include: Adrienne Massanari, Raychelle Burks, Tricia Bacon, Monika Konaklieva, Janice Iwama, Wendy Melillo, Megan Finn, Susan Shepler, and Jennifer Poole in the associate professor cohort and Robert Kelly, Shirin Sabetghadam, Amaarah DeCuir, Whitney Harris Christopher, Bernard Gunter, Toks Fashola, Meredith Burnett, Michael Clayton, Rebecca Hazen, Erica Hart, Ralph Sonnenshine, and Claudine A Kuradusenge-McLeod in the term cohort. 

Career Development Mini-Grants 

Lastly, we launched our career development mini-grants. These grants will fund faculty research, scholarship, and networking with an emphasis on expanding inclusivity in career pathways in STEM. Out of 25 applications, we awarded a total of 10 grants totaling $11,500 to the following awardees: team of Ernesto Casteneda: Noemi Enchautegui de Jesus, Saba Ahmed, and Rob Albro; Alexandre Kisner, Team of Zoltan Gluck and Thurka Sangaramoorthy; Alice Coyne, Amelia Tseng, Chelsea Butkowski, Daniel Barkley, and Team of Alison Chrisler and Latoya Callender. These grants will fund a variety of diverse projects such as research to understand the impact of climate change interventions on marginalized groups, efforts to make psychotherapy more personalized to individual patient needs, and research on ways to support students regardless of immigration status in conducting their own STEM research to enhance their sense of belonging, to name just a few of the projects we are funding. As with the mentorship programs, we hope to expand these grants in the coming years.  

ADVANCE Catalyst Project 2020-2022

The ADVANCE Catalyst project (20-22) was an intentional, inclusive and intersectional assessment of university full-time faculty, including the structures, policies and procedures that affect women and underrepresented minority (URM) faculty in STEM fields. NSF’s broad definition of STEM includes physical sciences, life sciences and social and behavioral sciences.

The Catalyst project documented the unique systemic barriers for women and URM STEM faculty at medium-sized, urban, private research universities. The need for this data was highlighted in AU’s Catalyst proposal. As a result, nine focus groups with a combined total of 36 faculty were conducted to fill this important informational void. 

Catalyst results indicated that changes to faculty hiring practices were achieving increased diversity in new faculty, but departures of diverse faculty, particularly URM women, is concerning. This finding is consistent with our original hypothesis that institutions being situated in urban areas may have more problems retaining URM and women faculty rather than recruitment challenges.. 


Personnel and Participants:

Project Team Leaders:
Monica Jackson (PI),
Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy (Co-PI),
Meg Bentley (Co-PI),
Linda Aldoory (Co-PI),
Darrion Sprueill (Sr. Project Manager),
Priya Doshi (Associate Dean of Faculty & Inclusive Excellence).

Project Team Participants:
Abigail Puskar,
Karen Froslid-Jones,
Robin Beads,
Carolyn Parker,
Arthur Stallworth,
Amanda Taylor.

Internal Steering Committee:
David Haaga,
Nuria Villanova,
Maria Gomez,
Nathan Harshman,
Shari Watkins,
Clarissa Ihssen,
Alexander Zestos,
Brian McGowan,
Rachel Borchardt,
Jeanne Guerrero,
Christina Juhasz-Wood.