The University of Cincinnati (UC) is a public research-extensive university ranked 25th among peer public institutions by the National Science Foundation and was named as one of the nation's best institutions for undergraduate education for the fifth straight year (Princeton's Review, 2012). As UC strives to become a top tier research university assessed by aggressive benchmarks and goals, women STEM faculty will play a significant role in achieving this elite status. The work proposed here will facilitate the success of UC through a comprehensive program that will broaden participation and enhance the careers of its women faculty in STEM to establish UC as a desired destination for women and minorities.
UC includes 1,739 full-time faculty of whom 44% are women. However, women faculty are substantially underrepresented in STEM in Engineering & Applied Sciences (10%), Arts & Sciences (29%), and Medicine (28%). Further, as academic rank increases, the representation of women in STEM declines. These data demonstrate the compelling need for transformation.
Institutional change at UC will be most successful if it is a dynamic process integrating programming and policy change to improve the pipeline and climate through (a) bottom up initiatives targeted to women; (b) top-down leadership reform initiatives; and (c) through advocacy and accountability initiatives that coordinate the top-down and bottom-up approaches. The latter represents a “guiding coalition” (Kotter, 1990) of change agents across various levels of faculty and administrators.
We are poised to begin the transformation of UC to an environment that understands, proactively develops, recognizes, and values the talent within our women STEM faculty. We will accomplish transformation by creating a pipeline that begins with the balanced and transparent recruitment of women STEM scientists, targeting first the areas of greatest need where women faculty are clearly underrepresented. LEAF will initiate programs that address career challenges through early-, mid- and senior-career stages to ensure that women STEM scientists are supported through their academic trajectory and achieve maximal career impact.
Critical features of our proposal will be the use of structured learning programs (year-long workshop series) coupled with learning communities (LCs) that not only introduce necessary skills but also help women situate themselves within social and professional networks that can provide additional support and that will serve as reference groups and supports at earlier stages of their careers. A second critical feature will be the development of unit-level logic models of desired change. Logic modeling is a tool in program planning and evaluation which explicates the connections between program activities and intended outcomes. This feature acknowledges the great diversity among units in starting conditions while still emphasizing that every unit will be expected to make specific plans that contribute to the proposal’s aims. We realize that this will be an incremental, iterative, and sometimes difficult process, but one essential to successful transformation.
We will focus on STEM research faculty in the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) and in selected units in the College of Medicine (COM) and the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences (A&S). These colleges vary widely in how the STEM scientists work, the relative emphasis on research and instruction, and the culture in regard to women.