New website highlights UMSL’s continuing efforts to improve gender equity among STEM faculty through ADVANCE

by | Feb 11, 2022

The site outlines the project’s action areas, provides a list of resources for women faculty members and features space to spotlight their work.
UMSL ADVANCE website

A new website launching today highlights the continuing work of UMSL’s ADVANCE project, including its three overlapping and complementary action areas, a list of resources for women faculty members and space to spotlight some of their work. (Screenshot)

Officials at the University of Missouri–St. Louis have been working to revamp recruiting and hiring processes over the past 18 months in an ongoing effort to increase the number of women – particularly women of color – in faculty positions in STEM fields. That’s science – including the social and behavioral sciences – technology, engineering and mathematics.

Their efforts have been supported by a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation ADVANCE program that the university received in August 2020. UMSL Chancellor Kristin Sobolik is the project’s principal investigator.

A new website launching today – appropriately on International Day of Women and Girls in Science – will serve to highlight that continuing work. The site – umsl.edu/advance – outlines the project’s three overlapping and complementary action areas, provides a list of resources for women faculty members and features space to spotlight some of their work, including links to stories that appear in UMSL Daily.

“The purpose of the website is not only to convey information about our NSF ADVANCE project to the campus community but also to share that information with people outside of campus,” said Marie Mora, UMSL’s associate vice chancellor for strategic initiatives, who serves as a co-principal investigator on the grant and is the ADVANCE project director. “We look at it as a way to provide information to potential job applicants who might be very interested in diversity, equity and inclusion issues, issues related to gender and racial equity. There’s a large national network for NSF ADVANCE across the country, and this is another way that we can demonstrate that UMSL is an active part of that community.”

The NSF ADVANCE program celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, and it remains focused on broadening the implementation of evidence-based systemic change strategies that promote equity for STEM faculty in academic workplaces and the academic profession.

That starts with the way universities recruit and hire for academic positions. At UMSL, the Office of Academic Affairs is collaborating with Human Resources and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to work with search committees at the start of the recruiting and hiring process – even before they’ve drafted a job announcement – to be mindful of trying to build a high-quality and diverse applicant pool. There are other touchpoints during the process, and ODEI will serve as a resource for search committees, including sharing best practices for conducting effective searches and helping committees develop rubrics for assessing job candidates.

“In the past, at least in my view, we haven’t had this level of cooperation across the different units when it comes to recruiting for inclusive excellence,” Mora said.

Hiring is only a first step. Issues related to faculty retention, tenure, and promotion are also being examined. Moreover, the campus is starting to plan for a climate survey – one of the proposed initiatives in the ADVANCE grant – to launch later this spring to better understand the feelings of faculty, staff, and students.

The ADVANCE team has also formed an external advisory board that includes nationally recognized experts who have done work or research in gender and/or racial equity among faculty as well as individuals with experience in NSF ADVANCE programs.

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Steve Walentik

Steve Walentik

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