Institutional transformation is one of the biggest and most important challenges for ADVANCE programs. Changing the overall culture requires creativity and lots of effort from all levels of the institution. The NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant requires that funded programs create systemic, organization-wide approaches to increasing the participation of women in STEM academic careers.
During the life of the UW ADVANCE IT grant, we discovered two key issues that became critical to creating institutional transformation:
- There were few formal opportunities for faculty to share advice and strategies for mentoring and leading departments. Moreover, women and others from underrepresented groups often had less access to this valuable information.
- Many department chairs did not use or were unaware of many existing University of Washington policies that provide additional work/life flexibility for faculty.
To remedy these issues, UW ADVANCE introduced new professional development mechanisms, seeded peer networks, and improved policy understanding and communication. UW ADVANCE also consults with chairs, new faculty and women faculty on ADVANCE issues. All these efforts have transformed the institution and increased the participation of STEM women faculty at UW.
The overall increase of women in STEM at UW, in addition to the ratio of women in STEM at UW to the national average at other universities is additional proof of UW ADVANCE’s lasting impact at the university level (see more data).