In 1999, Massachusetts Institute of Technology published a report, A Study on the Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT, revealing that extensive marginalization of senior women faculty existed in its School of Science. In reaction, the National Science Foundation also took notice and created the ADVANCE initiative. Numerous colleges and universities also researched gender equality among science faculty and took action.
It sought to address the issue by establishing three efforts: Institutional Transformation Awards, Leadership Awards, and Partnerships for Adaptation, Implementation, and Dissemination -- or PAID -- Awards. NSF awarded UNC Charlotte an Institutional Transformation Award, through which it seeks to promote institution-wide programs that increase the advancement and participation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fields. First-round recipients of the Institutional Award received funding beginning in 2002 and included universities such as University of Washington, Hunter College, and the University of Michigan. Second-round recipients were granted funding in 2004 and included institutions such as Case Western Reserve University and Virginia Tech. As a third-round recipient, UNC Charlotte's first year in the effort was in the fall of 2006.
UNC Charlotte was awarded the NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Grant for five years, from 2006 to 2011. UNC Charlotte ADVANCE was awarded 2 no cost extensions, which extended the life of the grant to 2013. The Office has now been institutionalized, and is funded through the Office of Academic Affairs. Since being institutionalized, the office has modified it's name to The ADVANCE Faculty Affaits and Diversity Office to reflect it's intended broader impact on campus.
Institutional transformation is a process by which the culture within the system is remodeled through change in its behaviors and processes. Policies that promote diversity and equity among the ranks of faculty often are reshaped and fostered within the university community to cultivate a world-class, broadly inclusive institution.
In general, the disciplines supported by NSF include the social and behavioral sciences, physical and natural sciences, computing and informatics, mathematics and engineering.
Much of the ADVANCE program is offered to all faculty on campus, not exclusively to STEM women faculty. This includes conferences and seminars designed to address issues of importance to all. Significantly, the policy work of the Future of the Faculty Committee affects all faculty.
Yes, male faculty and non-STEM women are welcome to participate in the mentoring effort. In fact, almost all the programming offered by ADVANCE is available to all faculty, in an effort to grow understanding, support and involvement throughout the university around issues ADVANCE and others are addressing.
Through the policies of diversity and equity that ADVANCE is promoting, UNC Charlotte can address the issue of a competitive STEM workforce. Academic institutions play a pivotal role in preparing students to enter into STEM careers. By ensuring the full participation of women in these disciplines, from directing research to leading and chairing departments, the fields will be accessible to everyone.
Students benefit when their faculty members are nurtured and developed. They have the opportunity to meet more women in the STEM professions, which helps them grow academically and in their future careers. Networking opportunities can ultimately guide students to rewarding job prospects. Students also see women faculty and STEM leaders who are successful, which enhances their awareness that these fields can be career choices.
The Committee on the Future of the Faculty, an initiative of the ADVANCE program, reviews policies, processes, and practices that impede the recruitment, retention, and full professional development of women faculty members - particularly those in STEM areas. Recommendations come forward periodically to the administration. In one concrete example, every search committee now must include at least some faculty who have undergone recruitment training designed to enhance diversity strategies. ADVANCE partners with others on campus to offer diversity recruitment training each semester.
Some women indeed do succeed in STEM fields; yet the statistics suggest that gender inequities do exist. As reported by the NSF, women comprise less than 21% of science and engineering faculty at four-year colleges and universities. Furthermore, women from minority groups constitute only 2% of science and engineering faculty at four-year colleges and universities. Family-work conflicts impact women differently than their male colleagues, often resulting in decreased retention. Data on salary, space, and grant money reveals that women receive fewer resources, despite accomplishments equaling those of their male counterparts. Finally, the issue of gender equity in STEM may be viewed as a rectification of policies and environment that have slowed women’s achievement in the sciences.
The ADVANCE office is located in Cameron 266. Visitors will find the ADVANCE staff available to assist with questions. The office also has literature concerning relevant topics and the ADVANCE programming.
If you have questions about ADVANCE, you may contact the Director, Yvette Huet at 704‑687‑8696. Other staff members would also be happy to assist you at 704-687-5112.