The University of California - Merced, founded in 2005, proposes an ADVANCE IT Catalyst project entitled Gaining Representation of Women ? Systematically Transforming Excellence in Merced (GROW - STEM). This project will take the initial steps towards increasing the participation of women in academic STEM careers at UC Merced. Specifically, the project will undertake three specific aims: 1) collect baseline data to inform on the status of women in STEM fields at UC Merced, including identification of specific barriers to their recruitment, retention and advancement; 2) collaborate with other exemplar campuses to identify best practices that have the potential to improve the climate for women STEM faculty at UC Merced and that fit UC Merced?s institutional ethnography; and 3) develop a data-driven plan to improve the work climate for women STEM faculty at UC Merced and increase the numbers and diversity of faculty in STEM fields. The involvement of leadership at multiple levels on the UC Merced campus in GROW-STEM will help to achieve institutional buy-in, awareness and support for future activities that support women faculty in STEM fields.

Intellectual Merit: UC Merced GROW-STEM will build upon previous research in the fields of gender equity and organizational change. GROW-STEM will also build upon well-established principles to conduct self-assessment activities. Development of a database for storing assessment data will provide a future resource to researchers involved in institutional transformation activities as well as campus administrators.

Broader Impacts: Project activities will create more women faculty role models and thus transform the experiences of students who study in STEM fields at UC Merced. The project activities will also provide opportunities to build sustainable collaborative partnerships with exemplar institutions. Most importantly, this project will serve as a model for other newly-developing institutions requiring a blueprint for the inclusion of gender equity in institutional culture.

Project Report

The main goals of this project were to collect data on the status of women faculty at UC Merced, compare with best practices at other institutions, and develop a plan to improve the work climate for women and increase diversity of faculty. Therefore, we conducted a climate survey, which focused on career satisfaction and asked about perceptions of fair treatment of women. The response from faculty was enthusiastic, with 86% of the faculty responding to the survey. A climate survey report was written based on the results from the climate survey and analyzed areas that need improvement in order to recruit and retain women at UC Merced. The two main problems identified were insufficient mentoring of young faculty at UC Merced, and lack of work opportunities for spouses of faculty. These results were presented to faculty and administrators at UC Merced. In response, UC Merced is developing a centralized mentoring program for young faculty, and is working closely with faculty hiring committees to assure that efforts are made to increase faculty diversity. A series of events relating to professional development are being started. For example, regular events relating to professional development are planned, related to topics such as "networking", "managing a laboratory", "promotions and tenure", "applying for federal grants".

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Human Resource Development (HRD)
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Beth Mitchneck
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University of California - Merced
United States
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