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Promoting Women in Science and Engineering

Case Western Reserve University will receive a prestigious five-year, $3-million National Science Foundation ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Award to implement a plan to promote women in science and engineering and to enhance the culture at the university. The program involves collaborations with Lubrizol Corp. and Fisk University to build a workplace environment from an innovative "blueprint" that will become a national model, called Academic Careers in Engineering and Science (ACES), for how research universities can recruit and retain women scientists and engineers.

ACES### goal is to increase women faculty in the sciences and engineering by 20 percent in the next five years. Attracting and keeping women in the sciences is a national concern. Past national NSF efforts focused on recruitment but fell short in meeting the projected increases for women.

"If we are to create the world###s most powerful learning environment, then all individuals at the University must be able to reach their full potential. We cannot grow without the participation of everyone at the university," said Case President Edward M. Hundert.

For the past five years, the number of women scientists at Case has remained at 22 percent of the faculty. Women students comprise 37 percent of enrollment; the national average is 55 percent.

Studies over the past three decades have shown that students place exceptional demands and expectations upon women in the sciences and have conscious or underlying biases, says Singer. All incoming undergraduate and graduate students will attend training to overcome preconceived stereotypes and make them more sensitive to women in the workplace.

THE ACES PLAN

The two-phase plan impacts 29 departments across campus and entails cooperation from all levels of Case###s leadership.

In Phase I -- the first two years of the project -- four test departments will undergo intensive change. The deans, associate deans, department chairs and women faculty in the departments of chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences, mechanical and aerospace engineering in the Case School of Engineering, physiology and biophysics in the University###s School of Medicine and organizational behavior at the Weatherhead School of Management, will receive coaching to set goals and to map out action plans. Barkley said these departments were selected because of the opportunity to improve representation of women in those departments, the availability of women graduates in the fields, the projected faculty openings in the next two years and a willingness by the department and school leadership to undertake the process of setting goals and making changes.

In the test departments, all women faculty members will have a three- member mentoring team comprised of a senior department faculty member, an external mentor from the faculty member###s field and a senior faculty member from a related department at Case to help the faculty member develop her career.

In Phase II, the piloted coaching and mentoring will be expanded to other departments.

Over the next five years, ACES will work closely with Case###s Center for Women in a variety of activities and workshops that professionally advance women. The University plans to network with Lubrizol Corp., which successfully implemented practices to transform the $1.8 billion, Cleveland- based company.

Case will strengthen its collaboration with Fisk University by inviting members of Fisk###s faculty as ADVANCE visiting professors to interact with the women faculty at Case to build a pipeline of minority students and faculty. Case also will piggyback on two successful summer research programs for minorities and establish another program to expand opportunities for minority students to engage in research.