Three female faculty members from Butler University have been selected to participate in the National Science Foundation ADVANCE project, “Advancing the Careers of Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics at Predominantly Undergraduate Institutions through Professional Networks (ASAP).”
Professor of Chemistry Anne Wilson, Associate Professor of Biology Carmen Salsbury and Assistant Professor of Math Rebecca Wahl (shown left to right) will be part of a five-year, $600,000 project, based out of Gonzaga University.
The program involves the creation of a mentoring network comprised of 70 female faculty in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from undergraduate schools nationwide. The network will provide faculty peer-mentorship and cross-disciplinary support to help women in STEM fields succeed and advance in their careers.
“I’m hoping to network with more women in chemistry at similar institutions,” Wilson said. “I know women in industry, Ph.D.-granting institutions and the government, but not so many from schools similar to Butler.”
“I am hoping to foster the creation of a coaching network so that participants can find other participants who are skilled leaders in particular career areas,” she said “This way, participants can seek out the partners they need to develop themselves as better faculty members at their home institutions.”
Ultimately, the network is expected to encourage the entry of more women into STEM disciplines. By reducing the isolation of the participants and building leadership skills, the project will positively influence the 70 participants, who potentially may influence thousands of undergraduates at the participating institutions.
Salsbury said she is looking forward to connecting with new colleagues through this program.
“I believe that it will both enriching and exciting to learn from and share ideas with others who hold similar positions to mine,” she said. “I think everyone’s teaching and research efforts can benefit from conversation and collaboration, and I look forward to the ‘fresh air’ the experience should provide me.”
The project is an academic study, aimed at uncovering some of the reasons for the historic underrepresentation of women in math-, science-, and engineering-based disciplines and illustrating institutional practices that support women in STEM disciplines. The project also is expected to increase research opportunities for the participants, secure more recognition for their work, help advance their careers and improve their student-mentoring capabilities. Involving more women more deeply in STEM challenges is expected to yield greater synergy in problem-solving and innovation, widely viewed as critical to the nation’s ability to compete in the national and global economies.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to meet mathematicians and scientists from all over the country through this program,” Wahl said. “Hopefully, this longitudinal study will reveal ways to enhance the careers and maximize the potential of women in science and mathematics.”The higher-education network spanning the continental United States initially involves Butler University, Gonzaga University, Willamette University (Salem, Ore.), Western Oregon University, Southern Oregon University, University of St. Thomas (Houston), Maryville University (St. Louis), Hope College (Holland, Mich.), University of Detroit Mercy, John Carroll University (Cleveland), University of Scranton (New York), and Loyola University Maryland.
An advisory board consisting of women leaders from the national organizations involved in the project – including the Council on Undergraduate Research, the Association of American Colleges and Universities and Project Kaleidoscope – will help develop and maintain the network structure.