Grant to create more ‘IDEAL’ place for women

BOWLING GREEN, O.—Bowling Green State University is taking an important step toward improving prospects for women and underrepresented minority men in the fields of science, math and technology. It is a partner with five other northern Ohio universities in a three-year, nearly $1 million National Science Foundation (NSF) program called IDEAL— Institutions Developing Excellence in Academic Leadership.

Led by Case Western Reserve University, the partnership includes BGSU, Cleveland State and Kent State universities, the University of Akron and the University of Toledo. Dr. Deanne Snavely, interim vice provost for research and dean of the Graduate College, is co-director at BGSU.

The purpose of the program is to identify the factors responsible for the underrepresentation of tenure- and tenure-track women in science and engineering faculties, to implement change initiatives designed for each campus to reach gender equity, and to assemble senior academic leadership to disseminate best practices from the participating universities. BGSU, like many universities, has few tenured and tenure-track women faculty in the sciences and would also like to increase diversity in those disciplines.

Heading up the effort at Bowling Green are “Change Leaders” Drs. Laura Leventhal, a professor of computer science; Helen Michaels, an associate professor of biological sciences, and Sheila Roberts, an associate professor of geology. They have been meeting regularly with members from the partner institutions.

“BGSU decided on ‘Build Intellectual Community and Collegiality’ to set the stage for surveying the campus climate and building leadership for women in the sciences,” said Snavely.

For this first year of the three-year IDEAL program, the Change Leader team will identify the specific barriers to career advancement through surveys and focus groups, and will develop strategies for creating opportunities for collegial interactions.

IDEAL builds on Case Western’s NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Grant, awarded in 2003. Case Western established the program Academic Careers in Engineering and Science (ACES) and accomplished growth in the number of women in science and engineering faculty and leadership positions. IDEAL promulgates the successful components of those ACES initiatives.

Kelly Mack, the NSF's ADVANCE program director, said the new award is exciting partly because it focuses on the northern Ohio region. She said IDEAL's coordinated and systematic approach would, ultimately, achieve greater results than if the six universities acted separately.

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(Posted April 27, 2010 )