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About WISE

PROJECT SUMMARY: The Women In Scientific Education (WISE) Initiative

Compromise in the status of women in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines has been documented for several decades (NSB, 2008). The structure of the academy poses unique and often subtle obstacles to female faculty and administrators. In 2001, the National Science Foundation (NSF) created the ADVANCE program in order to increase the representation and advancement of women in academic science and engineering. The ADVANCE programs facilitate institutions of higher education and the STEM communities at large to be mindful of and directly address certain perspectives and standards that undermine women as leaders. The present ADVANCE PAID proposal outlines a Women In Scientific Education (WISE) initiative based at The College of William & Mary, and additionally serving two nearby schools (Richard Bland College and Thomas Nelson Community College), dedicated to the advancement of women in the STEM disciplines, including the behavioral sciences, at the assistant professor and associate professor rank.

To this end, three cores of activities are planned. First, there will be development and mentoring activities through lecture series and an annual retreat, grant and manuscript writing workshops, and an availability of research grants for summer, equipment, and seed funding. Second, assessment and education of self/other perception of women in science, and expectations for career advancement, using in-group/out-group experimental paradigms based on the Implicit Association Test (IAT) for Gender-Science is planned. Third, inter-institutional collaboration aims to improve faculty relations and the increase collaboration between women in the STEM disciplines at William & Mary and the Richard Bland and Thomas Nelson. Specifically, the aim is to build on existing relationships with these schools in order to create a supportive and collaborative atmosphere committed to the presence and advancement of WISE-based activities in our region. The proposed WISE initiative covers a three-year time line. Beyond the tenure of the grant, The College of William & Mary administration is committed to sustaining WISE-based activities through 1) appropriation of internal research funds, 2) development initiatives, and 3) research seminars that bring together interdisciplinary groups dedicated to the understanding of and improvement in the process of advancement of women in science.

Because William & Mary, Richard Bland, and Thomas Nelson are smaller, state schools that focus on undergraduate curriculum in the Arts & Sciences we provide a unique environment for women faculty and students in STEM careers. Together, there is a significant population of women in the STEM disciplines who the activities of the proposed WISE initiative will impact. Across the three main campuses, there are more than 100 full-time female faculty working in about twenty unique STEM and STEM-affiliated disciplines. In addition, there are dozens of part-time, adjunct, or visiting instructors in the STEM disciplines that may take advantage of the WISE activities. We also expect the impact of the WISE activities to reach beyond the faculty including administrators in the WISE disciplines, research lab assistants, technicians, post-docs, and undergraduate students. This may occur explicitly through their presence and participation in the symposia, as well as informally via learning from empowered and supported female faculty members and leaders in the STEM disciplines at their respective institutions based on their participation in WISE activities