Project to Improve Gender Equity in STEM Makes Strides in First Year
ALBANY, N.Y. (April 14, 2022) — UAlbany’s project to recruit and retain women and women of color in the STEM fields has already resulted in nearly a dozen grants, awards and funding for postdoc visits – all in the first year.
Called Project SAGES (Striving to Achieve Gender Equity in STEM), the initiative is funded by a three-year, $1 million National Science Foundation ADVANCE grant that runs through Aug. 31, 2024.
“Building a faculty that better reflects our highly diverse student population is critical, especially in the STEM fields, where women and women of color are significantly underrepresented,” said President Havidán Rodríguez, the principal investigator on the grant. “By increasing the number of women in our pool of applicants, and supporting junior faculty with mentors and project funding, we are actively working to correct this imbalance — while also aiming to create a campus culture that reinforces our success.”
Provost Carol Kim said the NSF ADVANCE grant is a source of pride for the University. “We were one of only seven universities across the nation to receive such a grant in 2021,” Kim said. “Project SAGES has had a very successful first year and will continue to support the success of our women faculty in STEM.”
In the first year of the grant, Project SAGES has:
- Awarded four External Sponsor Program Awards that pair a female assistant professor in STEM or relevant Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) departments with sponsors from outside the University who are well-connected, prestigious in their field and involved in national and international societies. Each sponsor, who receives a stipend, helps the junior female faculty member network in the field, and reads and provides feedback on grant proposals and papers. Faculty awardees were Aubrey Hillman (Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences) Betty Lin (Psychology), Haruka Takayama (Economics) and Hyun-Kyoung Kwon (Mathematics).
- Awarded three $15,000 Seed Funding Grants to collaborative projects in which the principal investigator is a junior female in STEM/SBS. The goal is to help female faculty become better connected in collaborations, improving their ability to obtain external funding. The awardees were Cecilia Levy (Physics), Sweta Vangaveti (RNA Institute) and Cuicui Chen (Economics).
- Awarded funds to three STEM/SBS departments for the Postdoc Visitation Program, in which the department identifies a promising female postdoc from outside UAlbany. Project SAGES provides funds to have the postdoc visit UAlbany to give a seminar, meet the faculty and students, and get to know UAlbany. The department keeps in touch with that postdoc and encourages them to apply when a faculty search is approved. Awarded departments were Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, Psychology and Mathematics.
- Held an NSF-sponsored Project SAGES interactive online workshop and discussion entitled Bias Mitigation and Allyship: What They Can Do for You and Your Department. The purpose of this program is to promote gender equity and the inclusion of women in STEM by changing aspects of the academic culture that differentially affect women faculty and create disadvantages for them in their professional development. More than 50 people from 11 different departments attended. A follow-up workshop is planned for this month.