Although recent decades have seen substantial gains in improving access and climate for women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), the academy remains a place where women are underrepresented in professional ranks. At many primarily undergraduate institutions (PUI), representation is particularly poor. While all members of COPLAC (Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges) share a mission to provide a high-quality, affordable education to their constituents, like other PUIs, they face particular challenges that (often unwittingly) contribute to inequities in the career success and advancement of their STEM faculty. Intersectional elements, such as gender identity, age, nationality, race, sexual orientation, disability, and socio-economic background are often overlooked factors that can heighten inequality.
Our initiative is a four-year plan that seeks to address these problems by incorporating the intersectional perspective into a coordinated program of training and support to impart sustainable, systemic reductions in gender inequity among COPLAC’s institutions. We are taking a two-tiered approach directed at two objectives: (1) Create institutional change within COPLAC by training both women and men administrators and department chairs (i.e., “influencers”) to recognize bias, identify intersectional policies, and solve issues that contribute to gender inequities in STEM. (2) Provide professional support and networking to women STEM faculty through virtual affinity groups. These facilitated groups will generate a sustainable infrastructure that fosters community, empowerment, research collaboration, mentoring, and solutions for women to overcome barriers to career advancement.
Whether you are here as a college administrator, STEM faculty, or just curious about our project, we hope that you will find the site informative, and helpful. We always love to hear from our readers so leave us a comment!