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Women of Western: The Voices of Women - ADVANCE Catalyst at a Comprehensive Institution

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

ADVANCE and Related Faculty Issues

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1484.1 - 25.1484.17



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Paper Authors


Kathleen L. Kitto Western Washington University

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Kathleen L. Kitto is currently the Special Assistant to the Provost for Strategic Initiatives and Acting Dean of the Graduate School and Vice Provost for Research at Western Washington University. Kitto has served WWU for more than 20 years and has played a number of roles within the university including eight years as the Associate Dean of the College of Sciences and Technology, seven years as the Chair of the Engineering Technology Department, and one year as the Director of the Advanced Materials Science and Engineering Center (AMSEC). She was actively involved in the creation of AMSEC and the new minor in materials science at Western. She is also played a role in the efforts to establish a technology and innovation center (TDC) in Bellingham. She was awarded an NSF ADVANCE Catalyst grant (along with co-PIs Norman and Guenter-Schlesinger) to promote the advancement, retention, and recruitment of women in STEM disciplines at Western. In 2010, she received Western Washington University’s Diversity Achievement Award, the highest honor for diversity achievements at WWU. Also in 2010, PIs Kitto and Jusak were awarded a CCLI grant to develop applications and modules for materials engineering and science education. She has published more than 50 papers and given presentations at numerous conferences, co-authored three text books, and written an invited book chapter and several lab manuals. She is a member of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Society of Engineering Educators, the Materials Research Society, and ASM International. Her primary research interests are in curriculum design for materials education, STEM learning, and acoustic properties of materials.

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Sue Guenter-Schlesinger Western Washington University

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Sue Guenter-Schlesinger is Vice Provost for Equal Opportunity and Employment Diversity at Western Washington University. Previously, she served 14 years as Assistant Executive Vice President, Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action at Utah State University. She also held an adjunct position at USU in the Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology. After earning her B.A. and M.A. in English and her Ph.D. in higher education from the University of California, Los Angeles,
Guenter-Schlesinger began her career with the University of Maryland’s European Division and the U.S. Army Research Institute. She then served as Director for the U.S. Army’s Equal Opportunity Program in the European Command, located in Heidelberg, Germany. In her current role, Guenter-Schlesinger is Chief Advisor to Western’s President and Provost on equal opportunity and employment diversity issues. Her current responsibilities include strategically working on implementing initiatives aimed at recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce. She also implements both equal opportunity and affirmative action legal mandates, as well as investigates race, gender, and other legally protected category complaints and provides workshops and training in the prevention of sexual harassment and in valuing diversity. Guenter-Schlesinger has served as co-PI on the NSF Catalyst ADVANCE Grant for Women in Sciences and Engineering. Having worked on equal opportunity and diversity issues for more than 25 years, she has received a myriad of honors and awards, including serving at the request of the Secretary of Defense on the Defense Advisory Committee for Women in the Services (DACOWITS). She has consulted, spoken and written extensively on diversity subjects both nationally and internationally, and is considered an expert in her field.

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Women of XXX – The Voices of Women - ADVANCE Catalyst at a Comprehensive InstitutionThe ADVANCE Catalyst program at XXXX XXXX University provided the resourcesand time necessary for us to probe deeply into our internal practices, measure outcomesfor faculty, and, most importantly, find and focus on the barriers that impede theadvancement of our women faculty. As part of our ADVANCE Catalyst program, wecrafted a survey that was adapted from previous surveys at ADVANCE (researchintensive) universities, and added questions specifically addressing faculty issues uniqueto comprehensive universities. All faculty members in seven STEM departments:Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering Technology, Geology, Mathematics,and Physics were surveyed. In total, 139 tenured, tenure track, and non-tenure trackfaculty were invited to respond, which included 44 women and 95 men. The overallresponse rate was 58%. Tenured women had the highest response rate, at 87%, whilenon-tenure track male faculty had the lowest response rate at 31%. 73% of non-tenuretrack women responded. After analyzing the data from the survey and meeting with ourADVANCE Faculty Leadership Team, we identified three key areas of climate indicatorsfor further exploration in our Focus Groups: Balance of Work-Life and Work-Load,Leadership and Career Development, and Equal Opportunity.Overall, we found that the evolution of our comprehensive institution from a primarilyteaching university to an institution where a research program is expected has placedconsiderable pressure on our faculty, especially those at mid-career. Their heavyteaching responsibilities (inflexible labs, research with undergraduates, course innovation,mentoring/advising) couple to service commitments to constrain faculty time to such anextent that many feel that their research programs suffer or become second jobs. Ourwomen serve on more committees, perform much of the more time consuming service,and have had fewer leadership roles. Lack of formal mentoring exacerbates these issuesfor women. Expectations for our faculty have changed significantly during some of theircareers. While XXX has many policies/programs to address such obstacles, faculty wereoften not aware of them or misunderstood them, making them, in fact, inaccessible.Department Chairs did not have enough leadership training and support. Budget cuts andsoaring STEM student demand at our institution intensified these key issues.This paper describes the findings from our climate survey, which consisted of 103questions in seven areas of climate indicators: employment demographics, jobsatisfaction, mentoring, leadership, department climate, professional development, andequal opportunity. We believe that a Faculty Advancement Center (FACT) focused oncareer span initiatives would be the next logical step necessary to support women at ourinstitution. We believe it is imperative to have a staffed, physical center, coordinated byactively involved faculty leaders, for FACT to be demonstrably effectual and sustainable.FACT would bring together programming underway at XXX and any new ADVANCEinitiatives into an integrated, accessible framework to support faculty, especially thosewhose careers have been the most impacted by our changing mission. The research inthis project is supported by the National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE Catalystprogram (#811257).

Kitto, K. L., & Guenter-Schlesinger, S. (2012, June), Women of Western: The Voices of Women - ADVANCE Catalyst at a Comprehensive Institution Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22241

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