Ohio State Receives Science Faculty Diversity Grant

The Ohio State University will use federal funding to help female faculty advance in the sciences by launching a five-year initiative to change academic departmental culture in disciplines in which women are underrepresented on the faculty.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Ohio State a $3.6 million grant to fund a program called Project CEOS, or Comprehensive Equity at Ohio State. The initiative is intended to increase the presence and success of women at all faculty ranks and in faculty leadership positions across the STEM disciplines: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Women represent a low of 12.8% and a high of 27.1% of faculty in the four STEM colleges that developed the proposal. Participating units in Project CEOS are the College of Biological, Mathematical and Physical Sciences within the Federation of the Arts and Sciences, and the Colleges of Engineering and Veterinary Medicine.

Although Ohio State has adopted progressive policies that allow for flexibility on the tenure track and created support offices promoting gender equity, university surveys show that women faculty have heavier family obligations than men, and female professors are more likely to report that they work in unsupportive department cultures.

"The circumstances at Ohio State are common to many other institutions, but the university's size, depth and decentralized structure present unusual challenges," said Joan M. Herbers, PhD, principal investigator for the grant and professor of evolution, ecology, and organismal biology. "Even with support for women at the highest levels of leadership, this kind of culture shift cannot occur in a top-down fashion. The departments have to buy into it."

The grant was awarded as part of the NSF Advance program, which was designed to develop systemic approaches to increase the representation and advancement of women in academic science and engineering careers.

Read more about the program  

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