As at other research universities, Ohio State faculty in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine) are predominantly male, and promotion and retention of women faculty lag behind rates for men. Women, especially those from other underrepresented groups, face unique challenges. Underlying cultural assumptions, such as attitudes about proficiency in the field, and implicit biases leading to fewer award nominations and promotions for women, can pose barriers for women in STEMM departments and colleges. STEMM women often report feeling like outsiders and receiving little support within their units (Status Report on Women 2012, The Women’s Place).
Since the implementation of Project CEOS (Comprehensive Equity at Ohio State) in 2008, a National Science Foundation ADVANCE grant, Ohio State has made great strides toward improving gender equity for faculty in STEMM. Project CEOS researchers, led by Joan Herbers, worked to increase the representation and persistence of diverse women faculty by addressing cultural barriers to equity for women and members of historically underrepresented groups. This multi-year project focused on the retention and career development of women faculty members in the College of Engineering, the College of Veterinary Medicine and in the Division of Natural and Mathematical Sciences within the College of Arts and Sciences.
Ohio State has an established infrastructure of support offices to promote gender equity, including the President and Provost’s Council on Women (PPCW) and The Women’s Place. In October 2012, the university created Gender Initiatives in STEMM (GI-STEMM). In March of 2016, Gender Initiatives in STEMM was renamed Ohio State ADVANCE which is led by Mary Juhas, associate vice president for Ohio State University and former program director of Project CEOS. The name change is a result of a 2008 Institutional Transformation grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) ADVANCE program.
Ohio State ADVANCE will continue to advance, sustain, and institutionalize the best practices and evidence-based strategies for women faculty recruitment and retention particularly in the STEMM fields. Ohio State ADVANCE will continue to conduct REACH for Commercialization workshops as well as providing support for Ohio State’s Discovery Themes initiative. The Discovery Themes, identified as long-term targets of teaching, research, and engagement, will add 500 new faculty over the next 10 years in the areas of Energy and Environment, Food Production and Security and Health and Wellness.