There are currently 12 ADVANCE activities that are designed by committees of TAMU faculty and staff to transform Texas A&M University by increasing gender equity for women faculty. Each activity is aligned with one or more of the American Psychological Association’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace (PHW) practices – the underlying, evidence-based framework for the TAMU ADVANCE initiative. The activities are organized into 3 broad categories: Workplace Climate Improvement, Recruitment and Retention, and Success Enhancement.
Workplace Climate Improvement
Workplace climate is a major factor affecting women faculty’s success and efficacy at Texas A&M. In order to address this, the ADVANCE Center is engaged in 5 Workplace Climate Improvement activities which are designed to improve the work environment by reducing bias: LEAD Program, FASIT Program, Student Diversity Performances, Departmental Mini-Grants, and Merit Pool Increases. Christine Stanley, Vice President and Associate Provost for Diversity, and Mary Jo Richardson, Regents Professor, Department of Oceanography, Co-Chair this effort.
The ADVANCE Center is collaborating with the Dean of Faculties to enhance existing professional development for Department Heads. The goal of the Leadership Excellence for Academic Diversity (LEAD) Program is to expand Department Head understanding of implicit bias and provide further support to help them meet diversity goals related to women faculty.
A positive working relationship between faculty and staff is critical to the success of the University. The goal of the ADVANCE Center’s Faculty and Staff Interaction Team (FASIT) Program is to engage faculty and staff as partners in improving workplace climate and increase their awareness of unintentional bias toward female faculty by augmenting existing training related to gender equity and diversity.
Mini-grants for innovative projects have been awarded to individual departments based on how well the proposed projects supported the goals of the ADVANCE program. This initiative was meant to support departments in their diversity efforts and to provide an avenue for innovative strategies to promote the success of women faculty.
In order to improve the workplace climate for women faculty – and indeed all faculty – the ADVANCE Center is engaged in an effort to teach students that respecting all faculty is part of the culture of excellence at Texas A&M.
Dr. Christine Stanley, the Vice President and Associate Provost for Diversity, and her Advisory Council annually assess the progress made by each university unit (academic colleges and offices) toward reaching diversity goals. The ADVANCE Center is working with Dr. Stanley’s office to leverage this new institutional practice to further the goals of the ADVANCE program.
Recruitment and Retention
While the number and diversity of women faculty at Texas A&M University has seen recent gains, a great need still exists to attract and retain women faculty of excellence. To that end, the ADVANCE Center has established 4 activities focused on Recruitment and Retention of women faculty. Robin Autenrieth, Co-PI and Department Head in Civil Engineering, and Sarah Bednarz, Professor of Geography, are Co-Chairs for this effort.
The ADVANCE Speaker Series has two goals. First, the ADVANCE Center is working to bring in senior women faculty who have also been active in gender and diversity issues to speak. The second goal is to bring in mid-career and senior women faculty that are nominated by departments for recruiting purposes.
The Strategies and Tactics for Recruiting to Improve Diversity and Excellence (STRIDE) Program is a joint effort between the ADVANCE Center and the Dean of Faculties to expand existing gender bias training for all members of search committees.
This activity is focused on highlighting the success of TAU’s women faculty. In collaboration with the Dean of Faculties office, the Women’s Faculty Network, the Women’s Former Student Network, the Women Administrators Network, and the Vice President of Research, the ADVANCE Center is working to recognize and publicize the achievements of women faculty.
The ADVANCE Center is hosting annual workshops for early-career women faculty who are potential or new hires and postdoctoral researchers who are considering a career in academia. The workshops focus on understanding promotion and tenure policies, negotiating start-up packages, balancing work and life obligations, and more. Departments are invited to nominate women academics who they are interested in hiring, with special encouragement to invite women from underrepresented groups.
In addition to the ADVANCE activities that are focused on “changing the system,” there are 3 Success Enhancement Activities that have been established to foster the professional development of individual women faculty. Michael Benedik, TAMU’s Vice Provost, and Dorothy Shippen, Professor of Biochemistry & Biophysics, Co-Chair this effort.
This activity provides an opportunity for senior women faculty to serve as an ADVANCE Administrative Fellow through developmental assignments in departments and the offices of the Provost, Deans of targeted colleges, Vice President for Research, VP and Associate Provost for Diversity, and the Dean of Faculties. Fellows are selected based on a proposed project, jointly developed by the faculty member and the administrative office, and supported jointly by the ADVANCE Program and the host office.
In collaboration with the Office of the Vice President & Associate Provost for Diversity, the ADVANCE Scholar Program aims to provide eminent external mentors and senior internal advocates for underrepresented women faculty.
The ADVANCE Center is organizing peer mentoring groups centered on personal and professional interests. This activity functions as a complement to existing mentoring (e.g. TAMU’s Women’s Faculty Network or institutional membership in the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity) and facilitates the development of social connections among TAMU women faculty.