Objectives and Goals
The University of San Diego (USD) proposed a comprehensive, strategic project, AFFIRM (Advancement of Female Faculty: Institutional climate, Recruitment and Mentoring), to enhance efforts to recruit women faculty, in particular women of color, in STEM and social/behavioral science disciplines.
AFFIRM activities addressing climate, recruitment, promotion and advancement of women in STEM at USD 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.
This project has implications beyond USD: it provides 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 provided new insights about how they are navigating the social boundaries of sex-segregated disciplines and within the broader institutional climate. Our results are being disseminated via appropriate conferences and journals. The
project website is meant to be a resource for others who share our goal to support female faculty and affirm their place in academia.