In 2012, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Howard University a $3.6 million grant from the ADVANCE program for a five-year institutional transformation project. Launched in 2001, the NSF ADVANCE program was designed to increase diversity in academia – specifically in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines – by developing the interest, participation and advancement of women in these areas. Howard’s award supports the ADVANCE Institutional Transformation project, referred to as ADVANCE-IT, one of many diverse projects under the ADVANCE umbrella.

Howard University ADVANCE-IT: Women of Color Faculty in STEM as Change Agents

Howard has an extraordinary track record of diversifying the STEM field with the highest number of African-American bachelor’s degree recipients who subsequently earned science and engineering doctoral degrees nationally according to a recent NSF study.  Howard University ADVANCE-IT: Women of Color Faculty in STEM as Change Agents aims to develop an innovative and strategic model for institutional transformation at Howard University that increases the number of female faculty and academic leaders in the STEM disciplines.

Since its founding in 1867 by General Oliver Howard, a Civil War hero and Commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau, Howard University’s mission has included an institutional investment in the sciences and it has been committed to gender equality in education. Using innovative, systematic, and organizational approaches, HU ADVANCE-IT will implement university-wide education, advocacy, and empowerment initiatives to transform the institutional climate to attract, retain, and advance to leadership more women STEM faculty. The development of the proposed plan is informed by quantitative and qualitative institutional data that demonstrate its institutional readiness for intervention, best practices disseminated by other ADVANCE universities, and research on department climate, barriers to leadership development, career advancement for female faculty, and the psychological intersections of race and gender. The continuous refinement of the HU ADVANCE-IT Plan will be guided by rigorous formative evaluation and the findings of the HU-ADVANCE-IT Experience Study. The purpose of the mixed methods social science study is to use a Participatory Action Research design to systematically investigate the nature and pattern of life experiences of women STEM faculty at Howard University through examining the interplay of the individual, institutional, and professional factors related to success and the advancement of their academic career in STEM. The HU ADVANCE-IT initiatives are designed to be an integral part of the University Renewal, are supported by the university’s senior administrative leadership, and are potentially transformative and original in their culturally responsiveness for advancing the academic careers of women faculty, particularly women of color faculty who remain severely underrepresented in STEM field.

Overall Goal

The program plans to increase diversity through education, advocacy, and empowerment while simultaneously making a significant contribution to strengthening the nation’s STEM workforce. The portfolio of activities and outcomes will also benefit other non-STEM academic areas by supporting general policies and establishing practices reflective of the University’s commitment to diversity.

For more information, visit the ADVANCE Portal.