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Program Case Studies—Developing and Developed Worlds

To demonstrate variations across cultures, we highlight case studies of two successful programs. One comes from the developing world and one from the developed world.

The Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSDW, formerly the Third World Organization for Women in Science, or TWOWS), was launched as an international non-governmental organization established in 1989. The TWOWS/OWSDW Postgraduate Training Fellowship Program was established in 1998, and has funded young women scientists under the age of 40 to secure postgraduate training in centers of research excellence in the global South.8

The Training Fellowship program demonstrates excellence of the host training institutions in the global South. Africa is disproportionately represented among countries applying for and receiving awards, compared to the Asia and Pacific Regions and Arab Regions. The domination of Nigeria among fellowship applicants and recipients of the award suggests a problem of effectively accessing the targeted population. A majority of former Fellows are now working in university research institutes in Africa, even though they may not be in their home country. Thus, the program has generated some amount of South to South exchange, stemming to some extent the problem of “brain drain” to the North. Though uneven in impact, it has been particularly successful in launching careers of women scientists.

Perhaps the most promising gender-conscious science and engineering faculty-focused program in the United States is NSF’s ADVANCE program. Established in 1995, the goal of ADVANCE is to increase diversity in the science, technology and engineering workforce by increasing representation and advancement of women in the professoriate. We do not look at this program from the NSF perspective, but rather through the eyes of two mature ADVANCE projects (one at the University of Michigan, the other at the University of Wisconsin).9 For our purpose, the focus is on two project examples, initiated in 2001, as mature, indeed “graduated” ADVANCE projects that illustrate how an externally-funded program can be adapted to change the structures of the institution in which it is implemented. This is what NSF calls “institutional transformation.” ADVANCE principles have migrated to the core of few U.S. research universities, while most still struggle with sustaining the drive toward transformation.

For example, Michigan’s ADVANCE program produced an increase in the number of tenure-track women hired. Additionally, nine women were appointed to departmental chair positions. Foremost among the key interventions, the committees that managed ADVANCE were composed of 45 senior faculty members and administrators who became “organizational catalysts” for change.10 Sponsorship by NSF lent credibility to the effort as an institutional initiative to improve science research. The target of the intervention was the institutional culture, not the women in the academy. The Wisconsin ADVANCE program focused on institutional “climate.” Eleven “climate indicators” assessed individual faculty perceptions of how respected


8 For more information on the TWOWS/OWSDW Postgraduate Training Fellowship Program, see:

9 Meyerson, D. and M. Tompkins. 2007. “Tempered Radicals as Institutional Change Agents: The Case Advancing Gender Equity at the University of Michigan.” Harvard J. Law Gender. 30:303-322; and Pribbenow, C.M., J. Sheridan, B. Parker, J. Winchell, D. Benting, K. O’Connell, C. Ford, R. Gunter, and A. Stambach. October 8, 2007. Summative Evaluation Report of WISELI: The Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute.

10 Sturm, S. 2006. “The Architecture of Inclusion: Advancing Workplace Equity in Higher Education.” Harvard J. Law Gender. 29:247-289.

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