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A Statewide Policy-driven Approach to Gender Equity

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Engineering and Public Policy Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Engineering and Public Policy

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Paper Authors


Andrea E. Surovek South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

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Dr. Andrea Surovek is a research scientist working in the areas of biomimicry for sustainable construction and engineering education at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. She is the recipient of the ASEE CE Division Seeley Fellowship and the Mechanics Division Beer and Johnston Outstanding New Mechanics Educator Award. She is a fellow of ASCE and ASCE/SEI. She received her PhD from Georgia Tech, and also holds degrees in both Civil Engineering and Visual and Performing Arts from Purdue University

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Andrea Lyn Liebl University of South Dakota


Alyssa M. Kiesow Northern State University

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Dr. Alyssa Kiesow serves as the Chair of the Science and Math Department as well as a Professor of Biology at Northern State University. Her research interests range from exploring gene expression in developing vertebrate embryos to examining equity in science and engineering fields. She received her PhD from University of South Dakota in biological sciences.

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Mary Emery

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Pam F. Rowland

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Cynthia Anderson

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This paper presents current successes and challenges of an NSF Advance-PLAN project designed to address gender equity through policy change on a statewide level. The project is based on the model of change that identifies effective change as a top-down policy driven approach through a central authority, in this case, a statewide board of regents that oversees all public universities. The model for top-down change is particularly suited to a small, rural state where a) n-values for gender related statistics at any institution may not be statistically significant b) institutional relations allow for cross-state cooperation and c) size of the institutions allows for timely implementation and assessment of policies. The project change model and statewide implementation plan are shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Scott (1987) model of top-down change and statewide implementation.

The top-down statewide approach is particularly appropriate when the state system is under the ruling of a central Board of Regents, which determines baseline policies for all institutions in the system. In addition, intercollegiate cooperation allows for provosts of all six institutions to serve as an advisory panel for the project.

The paper will discuss the progress made by the program in terms of priorities including data acquisition and policy initiatives as well as challenges. Data has and is being collected and assessed in areas of salary, hiring, faculty annual reviews and retention. Initial data analysis indicates that the state institution follows trends identified in the literature including lower salary, differences in language used in annual reviews, and disparities in hiring and promotion. Challenges to the project include high administrative and project team turnover rates, difficulties in obtaining necessary data and a state legislature that is chilly to issues of equity and diversity.

Surovek, A. E., & Liebl, A. L., & Kiesow, A. M., & Emery, M., & Rowland, P. F., & Anderson, C. (2020, June), A Statewide Policy-driven Approach to Gender Equity Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34054

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