Grant will help UNH address faculty gender imbalance
DURHAM — Women faculty face obstacles at every stage of their career and because they are underrepresented at the top, female students have fewer role models to look up to.
The University of New Hampshire is looking to address that issue through a $3.4 million grant awarded by the National Science Foundation to strengthen policies and implement practices to address gender imbalance, primarily in the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math.
“As long as women are underrepresented in senior faculty positions, female students will not see themselves as reaching the top in either industry or academia,” said Christine Shea, professor of technology and operations management at the Whittemore School of Business and Economics and a co-principal investigator on the grant.
And aside from the motivational role, she said, the nation’s economic recovery depends on having more women in the work force.
“Economic recovery and growth requires that we rally all aspects of cognitive and work force diversity to add perspective and improve the creative problem-solving and innovation required to compete in the 21st-century global economy,” she said.
The $3.4 million was awarded through an ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant from the National Science Foundation and builds on a $1.3 million ADVANCE PAID grant UNH received in 2008 as part of a national effort to transform institutions of higher education in areas where women were traditionally underrepresented.
Shea said many of the obstacles women face can be addressed by institutional policies and practices.
Under the new grant, UNH will seek to increase STEM faculty women representation at all ranks through changes in recruitment and retention policies and practices; improvements in support and department level climate for STEM faculty women; a wage equity analysis and any recommended policy changes that might be indicated; and developing more flexible workplace policies to support career advancement.
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