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A Warmer Climate For Women In Engineering

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Conference

2006 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Women Faculty Issues and NSF's ADVANCE program

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count

19

Page Numbers

11.143.1 - 11.143.19

DOI

10.18260/1-2--1358

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/1358

Download Count

146

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Paper Authors

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Barb Silver University of Rhode Island

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Barbara Silver is an Assistant Research Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies at the University of Rhode Island. She received her B.A. in Psychology from Gettysburg College, her M.A. from Connecticut College, and her Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Rhode Island. Her research interests include gender and science, and gender and media. She has served as Program Coordinator for 2 NSF grants focused on women in science, and is currently the NSF ADVANCE grant Program Director.

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G. Boudreaux-Bartels University of Rhode Island

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Helen Mederer University of Rhode Island

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Helen Mederer is Professor of Sociology and Chairperson of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Her current research focuses on the intersections of work and family life, particularly as they are affected by gender. She has published studies on the gender dynamics in commercial fishing families and Naval families, and on the allocation of household work within dual worker families. She teaches courses on the sociology of families, aging, gender, and work and family. She is a member of the ADVANCE Leadership Team, the URI President's Commission on the Status of Women, and coordinates the Work/Life Committee at URI.

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Lynn Pasquerella University of Rhode Island

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Joan Peckham University of Rhode Island

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Dr. Peckham is a professor of computer science at the University of Rhode Island. She is a conceptual data modeling researcher who is currently engaged in multidisciplinary research and mentoring in bioinformatics, transportation, women in the sciences, 3-D graphics, undergraduate research, and disaster analysis. She is co-PI on three NSF grants, the ioinformatics core co-leader on an NIH INBRE grant, and a participant in a grant from the New England University Transportation Center. She was the first female tenure track faculty member in her department.

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Mercedes River-Hudec University of Rhode Island

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Dr. Mercedes Rivero Hudec is Associate Dean of Engineering and Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering. Her research interests are in the area of biochemical/environmental engineering. Dr. Rivero was the faculty advisor of SHPE (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers) for several years and has served as interim advisor of SWE (Society of Women Engineers). She has been an active participant and supporter of SMILE (Science and Math Investigative Learning Experiences) for the past eleven years: SMILE is a program designed for in-state, minority, underrepresented and low-income students in grades 4 to 12. She has also co-directed a summer bridge camp for entering, female, engineering students.

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Karen Wishner University of Rhode Island

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Karen Wishner is a Professor of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island. She received her B.A. from the University of Chicago and her Ph.D. from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Her research interests are in marine zooplankton ecology and deep-sea biology. She has led and participated in many oceanographic research programs, including work on submersibles and research ships, and has published many scientific papers. She presently teaches Deep-Sea Biology and Marine Plankton courses. She arrived at URI in 1980 as an Assistant Professor, the first tenure-track woman faculty member in Oceanography hired with a national search. Her recent work as a co-PI with the URI ADVANCE program has been a rewarding effort to improve the work climate and career path for the next generation of women science faculty.

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Abstract
NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Warmer Climate for Women in Engineering

ABSTRACT: In 2000, University of Rhode Island (URI) President Carothers acknowledged, following an extended and sometimes acrimonious AAUP faculty union grievance process, that there had been a climate hostile to women faculty in the College of Engineering. The purpose of this paper is to describe the positive steps that were taken at URI subsequent to that grievance to improve the climate for women faculty in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields, and to place these steps within a framework for climate change. The paper starts with an overview of the percentages of women nationally in Engineering, followed by a description of the hostile grievance process that took place at URI. Next is a discussion of pro-active measures that were taken by many communities of faculty on the URI campus, including most recently, those of the ADVANCE grant funded by the National Science Foundation. These measures have been guided by a grounded theory approach to climate change that posits simultaneous change in individuals, interactional contexts, and institutional practices. As a result, URI has recruited a significant percentage of new women faculty in STEM fields in a relatively short time, and is working hard to ensure that they are retained.

There have been many recent national initiatives to address the problem of the under representation of women in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines. It is well recognized that, beyond workplace equity, diversifying the practitioners in Engineering and other STEM fields will enrich these disciplines by bringing different perspectives, skills, and values to the fore, will help America remain globally competitive, and will more responsibly integrate Engineering practice with societal needs. Importantly, women and minority faculty also provide critically needed role models needed to attract and retain a more diverse student population. In Engineering, women comprise only about 20% of bachelor degree recipients, and are only 6% of full professors, 12 % of associate professors, and 18% of assistant professors.[1] In addition to recruitment barriers, retention and advancement provide additional obstacles. Reduced tenure rates, slower promotion rates, inflexible and demanding work schedules that make balancing work and family difficult, heavy service and teaching loads, and a male- dominated, often hostile work climate that does not validate the needs or contributions of women participants all contribute to a higher attrition rate[2] – [5] for women than for men STEM faculty. The University of Rhode Island was representative of these trends until a series of events, culminating in the activities of the NSF ADVANCE program, provided avenues for positive change in the College of Engineering, which now serves as a model for diversity at the University.

Hostile Conditions for Women at URI

Until the mid 1990’s, there was never more than 1-2 female faculty in the College of Engineering at the University of Rhode Island. In 1997, the number of women faculty had increased to three out of 68 faculty members, which at 4.4%, was typical of US national averages. However, in quick succession the URI Engineering College lost two new assistant professors in one department, and the College of Engineering was becoming known as a hostile

Silver, B., & Boudreaux-Bartels, G., & Mederer, H., & Pasquerella, L., & Peckham, J., & River-Hudec, M., & Wishner, K. (2006, June), A Warmer Climate For Women In Engineering Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1358

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