This award to the University of Oregon by the NSF Chemistry Division's Special Projects Office supports activities by the Committee on the Advancement of Women Chemists (COACh) to increase the number and success of women in academia in chemistry and allied fields. This award is co-funded by NSF's Divisions of Chemistry; Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems; Materials Research; Mathematical Sciences; Physics; and Earth Sciences; and NIH's National Institute of General Medical Sciences. Under the direction of Prof. Geri Richmond, COACh (1) develops and offers professional skills workshops that assist women scientists and engineers in achieving their full career potential at the graduate, postdoctoral, and faculty and administrative levels; (2) targets minority women scientists and engineers through professional meetings with high minority attendance; (3) assesses the short and long term impacts of these workshops, and disseminates results of the assessment to the scientific community; (4) assists with transformational change in departments and institutions to insure the recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups in science and engineering; (5) works with science and engineering departments and their faculty to identify and break patterns that can create different potentials for men, women, and minority students to be innovative; (6) fosters and strengthens mentoring and networking among women academic scientists and engineers; and (7) partners with other organizations on gender equity issues in science.

Technical merit stems from new insights into obstacles and opportunities for underrepresented groups. The activities have broad impact through their effects on the careers of participants and their colleagues.

Project Report

COACh (Committee on the Advancement of Women Chemists) is a grass-roots organization working to increase the number and career success of women scientists and engineers through innovative programs and strategies. COACh has been expanding its efforts to women scientists and engineers in the United States and developing countries through a series of unique and in-country career training and networking activities and provides avenues for networking and mentoring of scientists and engineers at all levels to assist them in their research, teaching and career advancement. This effort is no longer limited to women chemists, COACh now works with all women in the physical sciences: biology, bio-medical, physics, geoscience, mathematics, computer science and chemical engineers. The COACh efforts have been in six main categories: (1) Continued delivery and development of workshops for women faculty, postdoctoral associates and graduate students that increase recruitment and retention; (2) Expansion of COACh programs designed for department chairs, research center directors and other research administrators to assist them in improving departmental climate, retention and scientific productivity; (3) Expansion of COACh programs for minority women faculty, postdoctoral associates and graduate students; (4) Continuation of COACh research on the short and long-term impact of COACh programs on participants, and on climate issues in their departments; (5) Increase professional development offerings to mixed gender groups of faculty and students that provide training in constructive dialogue, negotiation, and leadership skills that can lead to increased productivity and career advancement for all in the laboratory and research setting; (6) Continued partnering with other organizations (both domestic and international) with similar interests in developing a strong and diverse STEM workforce and a productive and inclusive work environment and (7) use of social media to enhance and build the COACh network. The outcome of this project has been that the impact of COACh programs has gone far beyond what the founders of COACh envisioned when they began this journey nearly fifteen years ago. Of particular note are the COACh professional development workshops that have widely spread to other STEM communities. Our research through follow-up surveys shows that over 90% of workshops participants have mentored others in their home institutions in the skills that they learned at our workshops and that 94% state that what they learned in the COACh workshops helped with their career advancement. To date, COACh has reached over 10,000 women and men both domestically and internationally. In chemistry alone COACh has worked with women from over 270 chemistry departments in all 50 states.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Chemistry (CHE)
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Charles D. Pibel
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University of Oregon Eugene
United States
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