We have now submitted a grant proposal to the NSF Institutional Transformation ADVANCE program.  ADVANCE is designed to increase participation and leadership of women in STEM disciplines.  The focus of our proposed project is increasing career success and satisfaction for mid-career women STEM faculty by examining how CSU’s distinctive character as a western land grant university impacts career decisions.

A sub-committee of SCSWF, along with WCNR Dean John Hayes, spent nearly a year preparing the proposal and building on previous CSU efforts, as well as findings from ADVANCE programs at other universities.  Many others across campus have committed to working with the ADVANCE project, should it be funded.  While the focus of ADVANCE, and therefore of this proposal, is women faculty in STEM disciplines, we believe this project could broadly benefit all CSU faculty.

In the proposed project we plan to build on existing research and the progress made through ADVANCE projects at other universities in pursuing new ways of understanding, revealing, and transforming forms of power and privilege that marginalize people from underrepresented groups from being full participants in the academy.  In this proposed project we seek to examine CSU’s special culture as a land grant institution to better understand the role of entrepreneurship and risk-taking in career decisions.  Social science literature suggests that women, as well as other members of underrepresented groups, tend to be more risk averse than typical male faculty and we further hypothesize that there may be a gender-based difference in perception and assessment of risks.  Growing emphasis on faculty engagement in entrepreneurial activities, activities typically recognized as involving “risks”, may hence affect typical female faculty differently than typical male faculty.  We will also examine the effect of gender, risk assessment, and risk taking in decisions to pursue non-standard career tracks, for example focusing on pedagogical research or interdisciplinary research more strongly than on disciplinary research.

If funded , the ADVANCE project would likely start in Fall 2016 and would run for five years utilizing multiple strategies to engage both faculty and administration in the process of institutional transformation.  Currently we are identifying aspects of the proposed activities that can be implemented whether or not the project is funded.  In particular, we plan to establish peer-mentoring circles for women faculty and anticipate recruiting participants this summer with a goal of launching the mentoring project in Fall semester.