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Advancing STEM Women in the Academy

Making WAVES: Women Academics Valued and Engaged in STEM

The NSF ADVANCE award allows researchers at UMass Lowell and UMass Medical School to advance the study of gender bias in the workplace. The team focuses on creating new metrics and tools for the assessment and quantification of subtle gender biases and other causes of micro-inequities—the accumulation of subtle biases over a long period of time.

Making WAVES is an exciting initiative to increase diversity of faculty in STEM fields funded by the National Science Foundation ADVANCE Program. The $3.5 million, five-year grant to UMass Lowell is an institutional transformation grant and the project is led by the Center for Women & Work. The goal of the UMass Lowell NSF ADVANCE-IT Making WAVES project is to implement innovative interventions that foster an academic environment that supports STEM women to achieve to their highest potential by disrupting interpersonal and institutional microaggressions that undercut their productivity and well-being.

Additionally, our goal is to advance scientific knowledge on gender equity in STEM academics. Towards that end, we are conducting a national study to learn more about faculty’s daily experiences with microaggressions and how these experiences impact important outcomes such as job satisfaction, work productivity, and well-being.


Microaggressions are verbal, non-verbal, and/or environmental snubs/insults that slight based on gender and other marginalized group membership; they are notoriously difficult to address. Survey results at UMass Lowell indicate that women STEM faculty experience a disproportionate number of microaggressions.