September 29, 2019

U of L receives $1 million grant to improve STEM equity

By Matthew Keck–

The National Science Foundation awarded the University of Louisville a $1 million grant to improve faculty equity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

“This grant will help the University of Louisville meet its strategic goal of promoting equity for all faculty,” said U of L President Neeli Bendapudi in the release. “The STEM fields play such a critical role in the future of our commonwealth. We must ensure that our female faculty have every opportunity to progress in their careers so they can inspire the next generation of leaders and innovators.”

This award is going towards a three-year initiative called Advancement Through Healthy Empowerment, Networking and Awareness (ATHENA). ATHENA aims to promote success for female faculty in STEM fields.

The J.B. Speed School of Engineering, Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and Innovation, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, School of Medicine, Vice Provost Office for Faculty Affairs, Human Resources and the Office of Diversity and Equity are all supporting the ATHENA initiative.

They will be making five key implementations:

  • Changing search, recruitment and hiring practices to increase diversity and excellence;
  • Creating a faculty mentoring program with an emphasis on improving opportunities for mid-career promotion;
  • Establishing a program to support the career progress of faculty experiencing major life events;
  • Implementing data collection to support evaluation and monitoring efforts;
  • Educating faculty about gender and ethnicity biases that affect the advancement of women in STEM disciplines through theatre-based workshops.

“The number of women obtaining science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) doctorate degrees has increased steadily in recent decades,” states NSF’s ADVANCE brochure “However, women continue to be underrepresented in STEM academic positions, especially at senior ranks and in leadership positions.”

Since 2001 NSF’s ADVANCE program has awarded more than $270 million in grants to higher education and non-profit organizations in America. The ADVANCE program will be funding U of L’s ATHENA initiative.

U of L is one of only two schools in Kentucky to have received an award under this program.

Photo Courtesy of the University of Louisville

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