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Seeking Solutions: Maximizing American Talent by Advancing Women of Color in Academia: Summary of a Conference (2013)

Chapter: 6 Successful Practices and Strategies for Institutional Transformation

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Suggested Citation:"6 Successful Practices and Strategies for Institutional Transformation." National Research Council. 2013. Seeking Solutions: Maximizing American Talent by Advancing Women of Color in Academia: Summary of a Conference. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18556.
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Chapter 6


Successful Practices and Strategies for Institutional Transformation
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In this panel, representatives of minority-serving institutions as well as non-minority-serving institutions shared their secrets of success, including strategies and practices that have been implemented and challenges that must be overcome in order to move their institutional transformation forward.

UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

James Wayne Jones, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at University of Michigan and the Associate Director of the NSF-funded ADVANCE program (Increasing the Participation and Advancement of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Careers) at the University of Michigan, described their focus, their efforts, and the outcomes. The University of Michigan was part of the initial cohort of universities that received ADVANCE grants, having been awarded a five-year grant in 2002. They focused on increasing the effectiveness of recruiting and retaining women faculty, on improving the institutional climate, and on increasing the visibility and leadership of women. The director of the program was instrumental in helping departmental leaders to understand issues of institutional climate and helping them to communicate with their faculty and develop strategies to effect change.

Jones described the change in faculty hiring outcomes before and over the course of the ADVANCE grant period, during which trainings on unconscious gender bias took place. Between 2001 and 2007, the percentage of faculty searches that selected women rose from 15 percent to 32 percent in the STEM disciplines.

Since the grant period ended, the University of Michigan has institutionalized the ADVANCE program, supporting it with an annual budget of $800,000 from the provost’s office. Staffing includes a 50 percent appointment for the director and a 25 percent appointment for the associate director, as well as several research and program staff.

__________________

41 This session was moderated by Kelly Mack, the program director of NSF’s ADVANCE Program at time of the conference. Mack is currently the executive director of Project Kaleidoscope at the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Suggested Citation:"6 Successful Practices and Strategies for Institutional Transformation." National Research Council. 2013. Seeking Solutions: Maximizing American Talent by Advancing Women of Color in Academia: Summary of a Conference. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18556.
×

Table 4. University of Michigan hiring outcomes in science, technology, and medicine during the period of 2001 to 2012.

Department Year Women faculty hired Men faculty hired
Number Percent* Number Percent
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (Natural Sciences departments) AY2001-2002 5 15% 28 85%
AY2003-2012 43 31% 94 69%
College of Engineering AY2001-2002 2 6% 32 94%
AY2003-2012 47 29% 117 71%
Medical School (Basic Sciences departments) AY2001-2002 2 50% 2 50%
AY2003-2012 15 28% 39 72%
Total AY2001-2002 9 13% 62 87%
AY2003-2012 105 30% 250 70%

*Denotes percentage of all new hires during the reporting period.
Source: University of Michigan.

Jones described two activities that have been particularly successful. First, the ADVANCE program engages senior faculty in the Strategies and Tactics to Increase Diversity and Excellence (STRIDE) program. Full professors undertake in-depth study of issues concerning institutional climate and unconscious gender bias, attending five workshops in the fall at the peak of faculty recruitment season. The Dean of Engineering and the Dean of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts require all search committee members to participate in a workshop on recognizing unconscious bias and developing strategies to avoid or mitigate it. Jones noted that faculty appreciate this program and recognize its importance.

Second, the University of Michigan has begun investing immediately in the talented individuals that they have chosen to hire. Launch committees42 are a new mentoring initiative for new faculty during their first year at the institution. Every newly hired faculty member is provided with a committee of mentors that includes the department chair, a senior faculty member from the department, an ADVANCE faculty member, and a senior faculty member from another department. Launch committees give new faculty a place to confer on a regular basis with a collection of senior people in the institution and a mechanism through which to learn how to access the myriad resources available to them that will help ensure their ongoing success.

HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL

Joan Reede, dean for diversity and community partnership at Harvard Medical School, discussed her office’s activities, which are organized around six themes:

1.  Continuity in programming across academic levels where there exist multiple points of entry, exit, and re-entry. In 1990, the Harvard Medical School Exchange Clerkship Program was begun to bring medical students from other schools to Harvard to encourage them to consider academic residency programs. Each year, 11 to 25 percent match to their residency programs, and over time, more than 40 have joined the faculty.

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42http://sitemaker.umich.edu/advance/launch_committees

Suggested Citation:"6 Successful Practices and Strategies for Institutional Transformation." National Research Council. 2013. Seeking Solutions: Maximizing American Talent by Advancing Women of Color in Academia: Summary of a Conference. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18556.
×

2.  Consistency in programs over time: long-term effort. For more than 20 years, in every medical school class more than 20 percent of students have been under-represented minorities.

3.  Collaboration across institutions. The office works in partnership with the Biomedical Bioscience Career Program (www.bscp.org/), which collaborates with the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and device industries, as well as colleges and universities, and has served more than 9000 students across the country. The Biomedical Bioscience Career Program offers scholarships and mentoring to students about a wide range of career opportunities.

4.  Creativity: doing things differently.

5.  Communication customized for different audiences.

6.  Commitment of the institutional leadership:

o   Diversity inclusion is now in the mission statement of the medical school.

o   Diversity inclusion has been incorporated by the leadership as a cornerstone for excellence in teaching, research, and service.

o   Diversity inclusion is in their promotion guidelines.

The Office for Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership is working to embed diversity and inclusion into the institution’s operations. Reede noted how, too often, an institution’s goals of excellence in teaching, research, and service take center stage while diversity programs stand to one side. In addition, success for diversity programs is often spoken of through numbers (specifically, percentages), when in fact an increase in diversity of 100 percent may mean the addition of two people. The office is working to change both practices, creating a new paradigm in which diversity inclusion is part of what the institution does—increasing its capacity to capture all human capital and make maximum use of the contributions of all community members to the teaching, research, and service missions of the institution, and its intellectual, social, and financial capital. They are currently examining metrics for productivity, advancement, and retention.

In terms of representation of minorities on the faculty of the Medical School, as a result of the efforts of the Office for Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership and the Minority Faculty Development Program, and their collaborations with the Harvard Medical Teaching Hospitals, she noted that the number of underrepresented minority faculty has risen from 185 in 1990, when the office was established, to 630 today.

Data and research. The office is now looking at the productivity of faculty, assessing their advancement with regard to academic progression and leadership/awards, and looking at retention. (See Chapter 7 for more discussion of needs for data.) Reede emphasized the importance of considering the individual in the context of the institution, the department, and the discipline. She described two major studies that are currently in process. As part of the NIH’s Causal Factors program (Research on Causal Factors and Interventions that Promote and Support the Careers of Women in Biomedical and Behavioral Science and Engineering), they are carrying out a study on women and inclusion that looks at individual, institution, and socio-cultural factors that influence the entry, progression, and retention of women in academic medicine. She noted that diversity goes beyond gender and race to include disability, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic factors. Second, she discussed their American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Pathfinder Award, with which they are creating a repository of analytic tools for use by research community as it asks different questions and develops new analytical tools to

Suggested Citation:"6 Successful Practices and Strategies for Institutional Transformation." National Research Council. 2013. Seeking Solutions: Maximizing American Talent by Advancing Women of Color in Academia: Summary of a Conference. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18556.
×

identify theory-driven, evidence-based interventions for maximizing talent by increasing diversity.

Reede noted a number of challenges for data acquisition and analysis. Do we have the data and can we access it? Regarding confidentiality, in addition to the difficulty of ensuring confidentiality for individuals, she described how institutions also are concerned about their reputations, as pressure builds for greater transparency. Are the data accurate? What are the agreed-upon metrics? Do we have the requisite methodologies and tools in place? And can we go beyond the numbers to understand the context? Reede urged the use of more complex models and mixed methods, and emphasized the need to bring complexity to this discussion and broaden its scope—in essence, career epidemiology.

JACKSON STATE UNIVERSITY

Loretta Moore, professor of computer science and interim associate dean of the College of Science, Engineering, and Technology at Jackson State University, and the principal investigator for the NSF-funded ADVANCE program at the university, spoke about Jackson State’s experiences and successes with the ADVANCE program, begun in 2010 and focused specifically on women of color at a minority-serving institution.

The ADVANCE program’s objectives are to advance the careers of all women faculty in STEM disciplines and in the social and behavioral sciences at Jackson State University; to foster and sustain a climate and culture of inclusion in the university overall and at the departmental level for all faculty, regardless of gender, race, and other target characteristics; and to communicate with the larger academic community about the challenges of women in general and women of color at historically black colleges and universities in particular. They are addressing the needs of women of color by adopting and adapting interventions that have been used successfully to support white women and by developing new strategies according to input received from their faculty.

Jackson State University’s ADVANCE program has several components:

•   Summer writing retreats

•   Visibility through international group travel to educational institutions

•   Mentoring

•   Leadership sabbaticals (e.g., senior women faculty in STEM disciplines spend a semester in the office of the president or provost)

•   A bias education initiative

•   Social science studies including a “Culture and Climate” study

•   Policy review, adoption, and modification

To communicate with the larger academic community about their work, they also have rigorous evaluation and dissemination components.

Moore described three of their initiatives in detail. The Summer Writing Retreat was modeled after a program at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. The goal is to allow faculty to focus on their roles as scholars as a way of supporting their advancement through the academic ranks. The Jackson State Summer Writing Retreat hosts the faculty participants at an off-campus retreat center for two week-long sessions. The curriculum involves long days of writing, sharing of writing, and discussions about scholarship and the writing process. Participants are required to complete and submit a scholarly article by the end of the summer.

Suggested Citation:"6 Successful Practices and Strategies for Institutional Transformation." National Research Council. 2013. Seeking Solutions: Maximizing American Talent by Advancing Women of Color in Academia: Summary of a Conference. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18556.
×

Jackson State’s program of visibility through International Group Travel leverages its international faculty’s connections to give its U.S.-born faculty rich international experiences. Each year, a group of faculty travels to several institutions with which Jackson State has established connections but where faculty in STEM disciplines have not yet been engaged. In 2011, a group traveled to India and visited four cities and seven institutions. Faculty gave research presentations, and a number of research collaborations were begun. In 2012, a group traveled to South Africa, visiting three cities and four institutions. In addition to research presentations given and research collaborations begun, a new international mentoring program was initiated as well.

Moore described the university’s Bias Education Initiative, an effort to help women of color address the challenges of balancing multiple responsibilities and expectations, all in the context of unconscious bias. In December 2011 they held a workshop designed to build community, raise questions, and identify solutions among women faculty of color and their spouses and partners. The workshop was divided into three tracks: single women faculty, married or partnered women faculty, and spouses and partners of women faculty. The various groups began creating community, including the spouses and partners, who formed a group designed to explore how best to support their female partners in their work in academia. Future workshops will be held to address questions that emerged at the first, including the impact and experience of having or not having children and the experiences of single women in the academy.

PANEL DISCUSSION

James Wayne Jones of the University of Michigan spoke to the need for policy changes to be accompanied by education and information to those who will be implementing the changes. For example, a decade ago the University Regents voted to allow schools and colleges to extend the tenure clock to up to 10 years (the College of Engineering, for example, has an eight-year tenure clock, allowing for up to two one-year family-care leaves).The administration had seen that simply putting a policy in place did not ensure the desired outcome, as it was not unusual, when longer tenure clocks were an exception, for tenure committees to have higher expectations for people who had utilized them. However, the attitudinal discrepancy has now virtually disappeared. Leaders at the University of Michigan have learned how to prepare for policy changes that also involve cultural change and behavioral change, and to make clear to faculty both the reasons for the new policies and their importance.

Joan Reede of Harvard Medical School’s Office for Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership noted that she is part of a continuum of change. Since the need for change will outlast her, part of her task is to prepare and train the individuals who come after her. She stated the importance of understanding the culture of one’s institution and of using resources and influences both internal and external to the institution. And she noted that an individual does not have to take on every issue at once, nor does she or he have to work alone.

Suggested Citation:"6 Successful Practices and Strategies for Institutional Transformation." National Research Council. 2013. Seeking Solutions: Maximizing American Talent by Advancing Women of Color in Academia: Summary of a Conference. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18556.
×
Page 37
Suggested Citation:"6 Successful Practices and Strategies for Institutional Transformation." National Research Council. 2013. Seeking Solutions: Maximizing American Talent by Advancing Women of Color in Academia: Summary of a Conference. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18556.
×
Page 38
Suggested Citation:"6 Successful Practices and Strategies for Institutional Transformation." National Research Council. 2013. Seeking Solutions: Maximizing American Talent by Advancing Women of Color in Academia: Summary of a Conference. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18556.
×
Page 39
Suggested Citation:"6 Successful Practices and Strategies for Institutional Transformation." National Research Council. 2013. Seeking Solutions: Maximizing American Talent by Advancing Women of Color in Academia: Summary of a Conference. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18556.
×
Page 40
Suggested Citation:"6 Successful Practices and Strategies for Institutional Transformation." National Research Council. 2013. Seeking Solutions: Maximizing American Talent by Advancing Women of Color in Academia: Summary of a Conference. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18556.
×
Page 41
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Seeking Solutions: Maximizing American Talent by Advancing Women of Color in Academia is the summary of a 2013 conference convened by the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering and Medicine of the National Research Council to discuss the current status of women of color in academia and explore the challenges and successful initiatives for creating the institutional changes required to increase representation of women of color at all levels of the academic workforce. While the number of women, including minority women, pursuing higher education in science, engineering and medicine has grown, the number of minority women faculty in all institutions of higher education has remained small and has grown less rapidly than the numbers of nonminority women or minority men.

Seeking Solutions reviews the existing research on education and academic career patterns for minority women in science, engineering, and medicine to enhance understanding of the barriers and challenges to the full participation of all minority women in STEM disciplines and academic careers. Additionally, this report identifies reliable and credible data source and data gaps, as well as key aspects of exemplary policies and programs that are effective in enhancing minority women's participation in faculty ranks. Success in academia is predicated on many factors and is not solely a function of talent. Seeking Solutions elucidates those other factors and highlights ways that institutions and the individuals working there can take action to create institutional cultures hospitable to people of any gender, race, and ethnicity.

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