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Transforming the Associate-to-Full Promotion System: Wrestling with Strategic Ambiguity and Gender Equity

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 6

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Chrysanthe Demetry Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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Dr. Chrysanthe Demetry is Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Morgan Teaching & Learning Center at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Her scholarship focuses on materials science education, K-12 engineering outreach for girls, women academics in STEM, project-based learning, and faculty development and mentoring. As director of the Morgan Center at WPI since 2006, Demetry coordinates programs and services fostering excellence and innovation in teaching and broader faculty development programs.

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Elizabeth Long Lingo Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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While women faculty in most engineering fields remain underrepresented among all academic ranks, the gender gap is especially wide at the rank of (full) Professor. At one STEM-intensive university, attention to this problem was catalyzed by first-time participation in the national COACHE survey (Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education). Results revealed widespread dissatisfaction among Associate Professors and among women, and triggered a promotion reform process. This work-in-progress presents the early stages of a longitudinal case study of institutional change, revealing an ongoing process of wrestling with strategic ambiguity in an Associate-to-Full promotion system. Three years of negotiation yielded a new policy that explicitly welcomes, defines, and recognizes multiple forms of scholarship and calls out the problem of implicit biases. The case study suggests the importance of: enacting new promotion policies in ways that engage a broad range of constituencies in shaping interpretation of criteria consistent with institutional strengths and mission; building a mentoring system that supports a wide range of creative, scholarly work; and recognizing and repairing gender-based and other types of biases.

Demetry, C., & Lingo, E. L. (2019, June), Transforming the Associate-to-Full Promotion System: Wrestling with Strategic Ambiguity and Gender Equity Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33460

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