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The UMass Lowell/UMass Worcester collaboration provides a strong foundation, complementary expertise, and a demonstration of trans-institutional dissemination.

The two campuses bring complementary skills to this effort, including leadership in gender studies and in behavioral change studies, qualitative research, and successful recent initiatives to advance women in senior and leadership roles.

The UMass Lowell Center for Women and Work (CWW, see Facilities and Resources) has a mission of interdisciplinary academic research coupled with education and practice focused on workplace equality and gender issues. Under the leadership of Professors Meg Bond and Paula Rayman, CWW has a significant history of supporting research specifically on women in science and technology, including two NSF-funded projects: “Project TechForce,” which examined women and men in information technology workplaces (Rayman & Kuhn, 2001-04), and “Working W.I.S.E.,” a multi-generational and interdisciplinary working conference on women in STEM fields that brought together over 100 participants from academia, business, government, and NGO’s (Rayman, Bond, & Brunette, 2006-09).

The results of the Working WISE Project were twofold: first the identification of four major challenge areas which promote inequity for women in STEM --- (1) Educational Pathways; (2) Job Organizational Frameworks; (3) Work-Family Practices and policies (or lack of such); and (4) Work-Related Discrimination. The second key result was the presentation of the challenge as an ideological construct by keynote speaker Dr. Evelyn Hammonds. She described this construct as follows: if science sees itself as embedded universalism then if women do not succeed they are deemed advertently or inadvertently as inferior in some way.  When people believe this to be the case it shapes the way institutions behave and allows the discrimination on micro and macro levels against women and becomes part of the everyday way of doing science and engineering. In response to this recognition that micro-inequities and related institutional culture factors are as critical as policies, our ADVANCE-IT proposal focuses on measuring and reducing micro-inequities.

The UMass Worcester Office of Faculty Affairs (see Facilities and Resources) has implemented special programs and initiatives for the advancement and leadership of women and diversity that has continuously been expanding since 2005 under the direction of Dr. Judith K. Ockene and more recently with the addition of Drs. Luanne Thorndyke and Rob Milner in the Office of Faculty Affairs, and the support of Dr. Debbie Plummer, Associate Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Equal Opportunity; and Dr. Jeroan Allison, Associate Vice Provost for Health Disparities. The programs have included:
  • The Gender Equity Initiative (GEI) developed multi-variate models and continuous learning cycles to evaluate salary equity for gender and race, and when identified, to eliminate inequities. This model will be repeatedly tested on both campuses to address and minimize inequities. 

  • The Women’s Faculty Committee, created to address the needs of women faculty and promote the status of women; and the Women’s Leadership Work Group made up of women leaders who help provide an infrastructure for initiating advancement activities. 

  • The Joy McCann Professorship (JMP), a 3-year rotating Professorship funded by the Joy McCann Foundation, rewards female faculty who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and mentoring in medical education, research, patient care, and community service. The JMP has had a ripple effect at UMW resulting in the engagement of women’s faculty groups, leaders, and chairs across faculty rank, disciplines, and departments. 

  • The Leadership Speaker Series, established in 2009, provides access for women to national leaders and UMW experts in leadership competencies and approaches to leadership. 

  • Faculty Advancement and Department Liaisons (FADL), initiated in September 2008, provides links (liaisons) between the Office of Faculty Affairs (OFA), the department chair, the departmental personnel action committee, and faculty considering or preparing for promotion.  Each department Chair identified a faculty member to help individual faculty navigate the promotion process. In the first year, ten women faculty were identified as individuals who had not been promoted but were ready for promotion to professor, and they successfully achieved promotion with FADL support.
The impact of these initiatives, especially the FADL, is reflected in the much higher percentage of female full professors in sciences when compared to the national average. The UMW programs have succeeded in improving the structure and increasing the composition in the basic research departments, but even with composition approaching parity, issues of high-level recruitment, recognition and culture for women exist.