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Work in Progress: The Challenges of Evaluating ADVANCE Initiative's Effectiveness in the Progress of Women Faculty in Engineering

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Faculty Development Lightning Talk Session 2

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Faculty Development Division

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Paper Authors


Matilde Luz Sanchez-Pena University at Buffalo

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Matilde Sanchez-Pena is an Assistant Professor in engineering education at University at Buffalo - SUNY. Her current research areas include (a) advancing institutional diversity, (b) cultures of health in engineering education, and (c) data analysis skills of engineers. She aims to promote a more equitable engineering field in which students of all backgrounds can acquire the knowledge and skills to achieve their goals. She obtained her Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Purdue University. Before engaging in Engineering Education research, she completed graduate degrees in Industrial Engineering and Statistics and contributed to a wide range of research areas including genetic disorders, manufacturing optimization, cancer biomarker detection, and the evaluation of social programs. Dr. Sanchez-Pena is passionate about teaching engineering students and First-Year Engineering students in particular, from whom she draws inspiration because of their energy and creativity. She takes as her mission to foster such traits and support their holistic development, so they can find their unique engineering path and enact positive change.

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Syed Ali Kamal Independent Researcher

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The retention and promotion of a diverse engineering faculty body play a primary role in the advancement of the field. Failure to retain engineering faculty has significant economic implications for institutions. Additionally, the availability of role models and potential mentors for women and other minorities is paramount for the continuing diversification of the field. Prior research has documented additional challenges faced by women faculty in engineering when compared to men; such evidence has resulted in significant attempts to attenuate such disparities among faculty at all ranks. Initiatives such as those requested by the NSF - Organizational Change for Gender Equity in STEM Academic Professions (ADVANCE) have the substantive goal to increase the number of women in engineering and other STEM areas and improve the quality of their experiences through the support of systemic change. However, little is known about how the cumulative positive change enacted by such initiatives manifest in the diversification of the field. Focused on the larger goal of creating models to capture the effectiveness of ADVANCE initiatives, this work in progress presents a literature review of the different factors that have been documented to negatively affect the progress of women faculty in engineering and other STEM areas. This is presented with an iterative identification of elements through different stages of the academic career, layered with variables that are measurable, and potential approaches for future modeling given existing research and the characteristics of the ADVANCE program. The challenges of modeling such a complex system are discussed, together with potential alternatives as a first modeling approach using existing data from different sources.

Sanchez-Pena, M. L., & Kamal, S. A. (2021, July), Work in Progress: The Challenges of Evaluating ADVANCE Initiative's Effectiveness in the Progress of Women Faculty in Engineering Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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