Research, Reflect, Plan: IT Catalyst at New York City College of Technology
City Tech will research, reflect upon, and plan a transformational initiative for women STEM faculty that will improve the professional climate and enable women to realize their full professional potential unimpeded by either structural barriers posed by the institution or more subtle forms of self-limitation that arise from gender stereotyping and societal expectations.
From 2002 to 2006, there has been little variance in the number of female STEM faculty at the college whereas the number of male STEM faculty has increased. Participation by rank varies with women concentrated in the lower ranks. With closer inspection of gender by department for the college’s STEM departments for 2002 to 2006, there were significantly fewer female full professors, but more female participation at the lower assistant professor level. However, there was gain of 13 males at the assistant professor level, indicating possible entrenched problems around representation, gender, and STEM fields. Gender disparities vary significantly among STEM departments. Lack of participation of female faculty is most apparent in the Engineering Technology areas. This is predominantly the case in Computer Engineering Technology, Electrical Technology, Mechanical Engineering Technology and Environmental Control.
Year I (2008-2009):
Conduct research and perform quantitative and qualitative analyses that will enable the college community to understand the professional status of women STEM faculty both internally and comparatively across institutions, using the perspectives of history, sociology, and psychology as lenses through which to view data and testimony.
Year II (2009-2010):
Disseminate research findings to key constituents for the purpose of developing a broad consensus on guiding principles and policies to advance gender equity. The research focus will shift from self-study of internal institutional issues to an outwardly-focused exploration of how ADVANCE programs around the country are building programs that address inequities in the professional status of women faculty in STEM.
This process of research, reflection, and planning will produce three outcomes:
- a nuanced foundational analysis of the professional condition of Women in STEM;
- the creation of broad consensus on institutional policy to support women's professional advancement
- the development of an ADVANCE implementation proposal to NSF that reflects the institutional learning that results from extensive institutional research proposed herein.
Throughout the planning process, City Tech will leverage the college's own investment in STEM to achieve our aims. City Tech will provide institutional commitment for this project by supporting release-time for all of the faculty members involved as Co-PIs and other senior personnel. We will use networks with sister CUNY colleges and the circle of NSF-designated Model Replication Institutions of which City Tech is a member to build an ever-widening constituency for gender equity in STEM. This IT-START grant comes at a most opportune moment--when the college's energies are already focused on STEM and the CUNY system itself has launched "The Decade of Science," an initiative that will build scientific infrastructure, hire more full-time scientists, and support research. This planning grant provides the impetus for truly comprehensive reform that complements intensive efforts to enroll, retain, and graduate underrespresented minority Women in STEM. We view the unmet needs of women faculty in STEM both as intrinsically worthy of being addressed and ultimately as a fundamental variable in long-range prospects for student success.
The STEM self-study has engaged nationally recognized researchers and equity consultants such as the Collaborative for Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) and Dr.Lisa Frehill, Director, Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology, Project Evaluator. The Advisory Board draws on the expertise of two nationally known leaders in the field: Dr.Vita Rabinowitz, Provost of Hunter College and Co-PI of that institution's ADVANCE program and Dr. Benjamin Flores of the University of Texas at El Paso, already a City Tech consultant who will continue to mentor our college in its new focus on gender equity in STEM.
This IT START project has the potential for extremely broad impact. While the target population is first and foremost the female faculty in STEM departments, the ultimate beneficiaries will be the entire faculty of over 1000 members who will benefit from a more transparent and more enabling climate for success and a college administration sensitized to the structural and subjective factors that mitigate against women's professional advancement and proactively engaged in redressing them.
While the achievement of gender equity in the professional lives of female STEM faculty is of absolute value in and of itself, it also has profound implications for future generations of students. Underrepresented minority students, the college's primary student demographic, are critical to the future of STEM in America. They deserve models of successful women scientists, engineers, and mathematicians of many races and ethnicities, unshackled either by expectation or by bureaucratic rigidity, in whom they can see their own nascent dreams embodied.
Bonne August, Ph.D
Provost, Principal Investigator, NSF ADVANCE IT-START Grant