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The goal of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) ADVANCE program is to increase the representation and advancement of women in academic science and engineering careers—contributing to the development of a more diverse science and engineering workforce.

ADVANCE supports institutions of higher education and the broader science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) community in addressing the aspects of STEM academic culture and institutional structure that may differentially affect women faculty and academic administrators. As such, ADVANCE is an integral part of the NSF’s multifaceted strategy to broaden participation in the STEM workforce.

Since 2001, the NSF has invested over $130M to support ADVANCE projects at more than one-hundred institutions of higher education and STEM-related not-for-profit organizations in forty-one states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, including twenty-four EPSCoR (Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) jurisdictions.

Why is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) significant?

We are evolving into an ever-more technology-dependent world. STEM skills are vitally important to keeping America globally competitive. In some STEM fields, women have made progress. Women are 39% of the chemists and material scientists and 53% of professionals in the biological sciences. But in 2013, only 26% of computing professionals were female -- down considerably from 35% in 1990 and virtually the same as in 1960. The United States will have more than 8.6 million STEM-related jobs available in 2018, but the National Math and Science Initiative warns that as many as three million of those jobs might be unfilled.

To close that gap, it is crucial to address the disparities in STEM education. In 2009, 24 percent of the scientists and engineers in the United States were women. Nationally, women earn 41 percent of the doctorates in STEM fields today, but make up only 28 percent of tenure-track faculty in those fields. At UMass Lowell, of the 415 current tenure-track faculty, 49 percent are in STEM fields (excluding Social & Behavioral Sciences, SBS).