posted March 26, 2012

Women STEM Faculty Selected for NSF ADVANCE Program

Three women faculty from Hope College have been selected from an outstanding pool of applicants to participate in the National Science Foundation ADVANCE project “Advancing the Careers of Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics at Predominantly Undergraduate Institutions through Professional Networks” (ASAP).

The faculty are Dr. Stephanie Edwards, associate professor of mathematics; Dr. Vicki-Lynn Holmes, assistant professor of mathematics and education; and Dr. Catherine Mader, professor of physics.

The five-year, $600,000 project, based out of Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., involves the creation of a mentoring network comprised of 70 women STEM faculty from undergraduate schools nationwide. The network will provide faculty peer-mentorship and cross-disciplinary support to help women faculty in STEM fields succeed and advance in their careers.  Ultimately, the network is expected to encourage the entry of more women into STEM disciplines.  As outlined by the program, by reducing the isolation of the participants and building leadership skills, the project will positively influence the 70 participants who potentially may influence thousands of undergraduates at the participating institutions.

The project is an academic study, so the results will uncover some of the reasons for the historic underrepresentation of women in math-, science-, and engineering-based disciplines and will illustrate institutional practices that support women in STEM disciplines.  The project also is expected to increase research opportunities for the participants, secure more recognition for their work, help advance their careers, and improve their student mentoring capabilities. Involving more women more deeply in STEM challenges is expected to yield greater synergy in problem-solving and innovation, widely viewed as critical to the nation’s ability to compete in the national and global economies.

In addition to Gonzaga University and Hope, the higher-education network spanning the continental United States initially involves Willamette University in Salem, Ore.; Western Oregon University in Monmouth; Southern Oregon University in Ashland; the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas; Maryville University in St. Louis, Mo.; Butler University in Indianapolis, Ind.; the University of Detroit Mercy; John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio; the University of Scranton in New York; and Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore.

An advisory board consisting of women leaders from the national organizations involved in the project – including the Council on Undergraduate Research, the Association of American Colleges and Universities and Project Kaleidoscope – will help develop and maintain the network structure.