In March, the members of the ADVANCE program, a part of the National Science Foundation, finalized its participant selection, with two SOU faculty members—Hala Schepmann, associate professor of chemistry, and Carol Ferguson, professor of biology—making the cut to participate in their ADVANCE project “Advancing the Careers of Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics at Predominantly Undergraduate Institutions through Professional Networks” (ASAP), along with 68 other female Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) faculty across the country. Ferguson was invited to participate in fall of 2011 as a vertical leader in her field, assisting in the process of creating the application for other interested professors.
All participants must attend three annual meetings of all 70 women participants, as well as those more regular alliance group meetings—decided based on each professor’s field of study—and surveys and focus group work over the program’s five years. The main objective of this project, which is based out of Gonzaga University in Washington, “is to build nationwide networks of STEM women in similar disciplines, career levels and type of institutions to help all discover new options for addressing career challenges and new approaches to advancing our careers,” as Ferguson puts it. With women historically underrepresented in the STEM fields, this undertaking hopes to connect those already in the field and help them further succeed in their careers, while also creating “positive role models for current and future students.” Participants further hope to discover and present or publish about why women have typically been unrepresented in STEM fields.
Other colleges participating include such institutions as Western Oregon University, Loyola University (Maryland), University of Detroit Mercy, University of Saint Thomas (Houston), and University of Scranton (New York).