Advancing Female Faculty in STEM

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Project Proposal

To further NSF’s objective of diversifying the faculty landscape of STEM subjects, the University of San Diego created the Advancement of Female Faculty: Institutional climate, Recruitment and Mentoring (AFFIRM) program. It aims to boost the University of San Diego’s recruiting efforts of female faculty, especially those of color, in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Objectives and Goals

The University of San Diego (USD) proposes a comprehensive, strategic project, AFFIRM (Advancement of Female Faculty: Institutional climate, Recruitment and Mentoring), that will enhance efforts to recruit women faculty, in particular women of color, in
STEM and social/behavioral science disciplines.

Intellectual Merit

AFFIRM activities addressing climate, recruitment, promotion and advancement of women in STEM at USD will show how inequities in higher education can be ameliorated through systematic diversity initiatives. Applying published research and previous successful ADVANCE projects in the context of a liberal arts, faith-based institution, AFFIRM employs a participatory model including a climate survey, Interactive Theatre, and workshops, providing a platform for dialogues. The Distinguished Professor series, featuring prominent academic women of color lends credence to campus-wide climate conversations. The AFFIRM mentoring program provides for the acquisition of social capital by forging alliances across disciplines to empower women, a key to changing campus climate.

Broader Impacts

This project has implications beyond USD: it will provide a model for primarily undergraduate institutions that want to increase their diversity and provide a supportive environment for female faculty in STEM disciplines and the social and behavioral sciences. Through focus group interviews, the voices of underrepresented women will provide new insights about how they are navigating the social boundaries of sex-segregated disciplines and within the broader institutional climate which has only recently begun to assert the importance of their presence. Our results will be disseminated via appropriate conferences and journals. The
project website will be a resource for others who share our goal to support female faculty and affirm their place in academia.