What Have We Learned from the NSF ADVANCE Program and What’s Next?
Special Session 209
From the program of the 225th AAS Meeting in Seattle:
As exemplified by the recent CSWA Demographics Survey, while the number of women obtaining PhDs in STEM has been increasing for decades, their numbers have yet to reach parity in the upper echelons of the most prestigious jobs, and overall they are still underrepresented in almost all academic fields. The NSF ADVANCE program, which began in 2001 and invested over $135 million in projects, endeavored to increase the representation and advancement of women in academic STEM careers by addressing specific aspects of academic/institutional culture that affected women differently. Such aspects include, but are not limited to, stereotype threat, explicit and implicit bias, sexual harassment, lack of family leave support/policies that treat women equally, and lack of women in leadership and decision-making positions. From the NSF ADVANCE summary, "The cumulative effect of such diverse factors has been to create infrastructural barriers that impact the number of women entering, persisting and advancing in STEM careers." The goal of ADVANCE, which ceased awarding grants in 2012, was to "seminally contribute to and inform the general knowledge base on gender equity in the academic STEM disciplines." This Special Session will highlight the most influential (measurable) outcomes of NSF ADVANCE towards meeting its goals, focusing on broadly-applicable best practices and knowledge gained, not (just) specific products/statistics. E.g., if an institution increased participation of undergraduate women in STEM from 20% to 30%, how did they do it, what were the challenges, how do they plan to continue, how is their strategy transferable to other institutions? In this session we will hear from speakers with a diverse background in promoting the equity of women in STEM to learn from their experiences, with the aim of bringing together more universal policies and recommendations to help equalize women (and all minority) participation and advancement in Astronomy. This session will also be open for posters that discuss evidence-based, proactive research and programming related to women and minority equity in Astronomy. NSF ADVANCE was a momentous effort from the national government and many individuals, and with this session we want to pause and assess where we are after ADVANCE, and the best directions to move in the near future.
Chair: Neil Gehrels (NASA’s GSFC)