Institutional Context

Orienting Framework: The National Science Foundation ADVANCE Grants 


Despite significant increases in the proportion of women pursuing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) doctoral degrees, women are significantly underrepresented as faculty, particularly in upper ranks, and in academic administrative positions, in almost all STEM fields. The problems of recruitment, retention, and advancement that are the causes of this underrepresentation vary by discipline and across groups of women faculty (e.g., by race/ethnicity, disability status, sexual orientation, foreign-born and foreign-trained status, and faculty appointment type). The ADVANCE program is designed to foster gender equity through a focus on the identification and elimination of organizational barriers that impede the full participation and advancement of all women faculty in academic institutions. (The National Science Foundation)  

Seattle University Grant Proposal (1629875): "What Counts as Success? Recognizing and Rewarding Women Faculty's Differential Contribution in a Comprehensive Liberal Arts University"

Seattle University (SU) is a comprehensive, mission-driven, liberal arts university. Founded in the Jesuit tradition of education of the whole person and for the purpose of social justice leadership, SU serves a primarily undergraduate population with additional master's level STEM programs in engineering, computer science, criminal justice, and psychology, and professional schools in business, education, law, nursing, and theology. SU is one of the largest independent universities in the Northwest and one of the most diverse. We are committed to emphasizing diversity as a matter of institutional policy and as an integral component of educational excellence. In 2011, SU achieved a Carnegie Foundation designation as a leading institution in mission, culture, and leadership and is currently ranked as one of the top "community engagement" universities. In 2012, SU received the President's Award for Community Service, the highest award a university can receive for service and community programming. In these ways, SU is distinct from the research-intensive universities that have received ADVANCE IT funding and our proposed project is likely to resonate with a large cohort of values-based institutions. A large number of faculty in STEM and SBE fields are employed in primarily undergraduate universities such as SU and many students access education in STEM and SBE disciplines through these institutions. 


Comprehensive universities can be difficult to characterize, but faculty advancement tends to revolve around the expectation of some balance and integration of teaching and research. Because most faculty are trained in research-intensive graduate programs, primarily undergraduate institutions face the interesting challenge of mentoring faculty not only in the craft of teaching, but often in its value as part of a comprehensive career in higher education. This is especially the case in mission-driven universities in which faculty are expected to familiarize themselves with and integrate institutional values into their teaching and scholarship. 


Institutional service and leadership are other prominent components of comprehensive, mission-driven universities. Leadership activities, including shared governance and administrative roles (full or part time), are foundational in cultivating and maintaining the unique educational mission of the university and they can be deeply compelling and personally rewarding for faculty members. Paradoxically, however, these activities are often taken-for-granted and less recognized as part of the formal faculty development and evaluation process. Unless a university has made an explicit attempt to incorporate this work into its tenure and promotion structure, the work can go unrewarded and become a hindrance to advancement...