Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Case Western is WISER

Since my Institution is just now seeking to create an administrative leadership position to development programs in support of women in science, I've been trolling the internet looking at what things are already out there. I came across a really nice program at Case Western Reserve University called ACES (Academic Careers in Engineering and Science). Funded by the NSF "way" back in 2001, just two years after Nancy Hopkins report on equity for women in science at MIT, this program
seeks to contribute to the development of a national science and engineering workforce that includes the full participation of women at all levels of faculty and academic leadership.
There were many aspects of this program I was impressed with but one excellent one was the Advance Opportunity Fund. These were grants designed to maximize the success of women faculty by making available $60,000 grants to ALL women faculty including instructors and research faculty for support of:
-seed funding for unusual research opportunities
-bridge funding when ongoing research funding has been suspended
-grants to support writing of books
-travel to explore new techique or attend advanced training courses
-child care to attend a professional meeting or conduct research at another institution. (Harvard included this in their recent $50 million dollar commitment to developing a more equitable research environment for women - I didn't realize Case Western had implemented it years earlier).

Importantly these grants are available to non-tenure track personnel. I can't tell you how many internal funding opportunities I am not eligible for in my current research-track position, and not just becuase I'm part time faculty.

Another interesting aspect of their program was "coaching". Not a mentoring program, which also exists. But a coaching program. What is that I wondered? The objectives of this program were to
1) facilitate professional and personal growth through a structured coaching opportunity, 2) provide academic and career guidance as well as leadership development coaching, 3) promote academic workplace cultures characterized by equality, participation, openness, and accountability and 4) enhance overall retention and advancement of women faculty in the Sciences, Tehcnology, Engineering, and Management disciplines.
They even have a "coaching hotline"! for temporary coaching for one or two "emergency" sessions. Yikes, sign me up!

Finally, I was impressed with the WISER program. WISER stands for Women in Science and Engineering Roundtable which links women science and engineering students in a community with other students, women faculty and postdocs. The WISER program has three aspects for students. First year WISeR students have access to:
WISER SEMINAR "On Being a Scientist". The seminar is aimed at helping you learn how to talk about science by reading scientific articles and news reports of scientific research and discussing them both in terms of the quality of the science and their wider implications.

WISER MENTORING - First year WISER students participate in a mentoring program in which they are matched up with third-year and fourth-year women science majors. These student mentors help navigate the CWRU system with advice on classes, professors, research internships, dorm life, you name it.

WISER WORKSHOPS - First year students and their mentors will attend monthly workshops. These workshops are designed to stimulate discussion and thought about some of the issues related to being a woman in science and to help build skills for success in the university and beyond.

I've bookmarked these sites for future reference. I want what they have now - not only for myself as I carve out my way in this strange, temporary(?), part time science career but for all the young female postdocs and new faculty at my Institution. I promise to hold the new administrator for Women in Science at my Institution to very high standards.


avocadoinparadise said...

That sounds like a great program. Thanks for the link, which I'll pass along to friends who are still in or just getting out of grad school. (I quit a year ago due to motivational issues and an irresponsible advisor.)

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