ADVANCE Initiatives

‚ÄčTraditionally, women professors in the STEM fields experience challenges in maintaining a healthy work environment and often experience barriers to success in salary, reappointments, and promotion at their institutions. The purpose of the CMU ADVANCE Catalyst grant is to explore how barriers play a role in the lack of institutional success for women faculty at CMU. We hope to answer the following main research question and subsequent sub-questions:

Research Question: What are the barriers to institutional success at CMU for women faculty in STEM?

  • Subquestion 1: How are these barriers similar or different depending on the academic department/discipline?
  • Subquestion 2: How are these barriers similar or different based on race/ethnicity and by region of origin (based on the World Bank Regions)?
To address these questions, we have two focuses:

  • Focus 1: Collect and analyze data to answer the questions above
  • Focus 2: Initial endeavors to address existing bias at CMU

More information about our work for each focus is given below.

Focus 1: Collect and analyze data

Focus Group Interviews: During December 2020 and January 2021, we conducted 13 focus group interviews with faculty in the STEM disciplines (Biology, Chemistry, Communication, Computer Science, Earth & Atmostpheric Science, Economics, Engineering, Economics, Geology, Mathematics, Physics, Psychology, Sociology, and Statistics). and nine one-on-one interviews with faculty who preferred that setting. Fifty-eight faculty members participated.  The team also conducted focus group interviews in Fall 2020 with department chairs of the STEM disciplines.  As of June 2021, all of the focus group interviews have been transcribed and masked for identity.  We have coded all of the transcripts and have begun analysis.  We anticipate continuing work on the analysis throughout Summer and Fall 2021.  Questions used to guide the focus group discussions can be found here.

Phone Interviews: We have also conducted phone interviews with former CMU STEM faculty who left the university between 2016-2021 and individuals who turned down CMU faculty offers during the same time period. We plan to complete the analysis of the phone interviews during Spring 2022. The questions asked during the phone interview can be found here.

Bylaws and Faculty Association Agreement analysis: During Spring and early Summer 2020, our team worked with Dr. KerryAnn O'Meara, from the University of Maryland, in developing a coding system for the bylaws of the 14 STEM departments at CMU.  

Over Summer 2020, a team of three faculty at CMU expanded Dr. O'Meara's scheme to encompass more areas of our bylaws. The team developed guiding analysis questions for five subcategories (RTP, departmental policies, department chairs, other leadership positions, and departmental committees).  We anticipate having this analysis completed by the end of Summer 2021.  A sample report that we have written based on the analysis of the bylaws related to department chairs can be found here.

Institutional Data Analyses: The ADVANCE team has collected a substantial amount of institutional data regarding current salary, time to promotion, teaching workload, and scholarly achievement.  We will be analyzing this data for: time to tenure and promotion by gender, teaching workload differentials, and scholarly productivity differentials.  The analysis of this data should be completed by the end of Summer 2021. 

Campus Climate Survey for all Faculty: CMU's leadership invited CMU faculty to participate in Harvard's national faculty satisfaction COACHE Survey.  Two members of our ADVANCE team serve on the COACHE Survey Committee, which consists of leaders around campus.   The survey closed mid-April, and we anticipate that Harvard will send their analysis to CMU during the Summer 2021.  CMU leadership has also committed that any reports run on the data by request of a CMU employee made public to the CMU community.  During Fall 2021, we plan to ask for the generation of specific reports relevant to the ADVANCE grant's work. 

Focus 2: Initial endeavors to address existing bias at CMU

Implicit Bias Training:  During Spring 2021, we hosted a virtual pilot book club discussion of the book "Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People" by Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald, two creators of Harvard Implicit Association Test, with seven faculty from the STEM departments at CMU.  During Summer 2021, department chairs and administrators in the College of Science and Engineering are engaging in a similar "Blindspot" book club.  We hope to continue hosting such book clubs and bring a more extensive scale implicit bias workshop to campus in Spring 2022.

Invited Talks: One goal of our grant was to bring scholars to CMU to educate and inform the CMU community on issues related to the work of the ADVANCE grant. 

  • In February 2020, we hosted Dr. Ann Austin from Michigan State University. Dr. Austin presented a talk titled "Creating More Inclusive, Equitable Academic Environments: Lessons about Organizational Change from ADVANCE Universities." Dr. Austin also met with the PI team, our advisory board, and administrators. 

  • In February 2021, we virtually hosted Dr. Joyce Yen from the University of Washington, who presented a talk titled "Equity is a Leadership Issue for All: Evidence from Research on Bias and Its Consequences."  We had approximately 120 members of the CMU community tune in for her presentation.