Recommended Strategies

This section extracts common lessons and data from current literature and the AWIS "Cultivating Academic Careers" Project site visits and surveys. These findings should prove helpful for those searching for common experiences, effective programs, and workable policy and programs that improve the academic environment for women in the sciences. The Academic Climate Model Programs and Policies may also be of interest. These recommended strategies may be facilitated by administrators, faculty, students, and members of institutions, and professional science organizations.

Recruitment, Hiring, and Retention

  • Establish a departmental hiring plan with specific, concrete goals and timetables for recruitment and hiring of women.
  • Make recruitment, hiring, and retention of senior women faculty a departmental priority, proceed with efforts to obtain funds for the creation of an endowed chair for a woman faculty member, and establish funds and resources for recruitment and hiring of women to fill science faculty positions.
  • Identify and target administrative officials to monitor the status of women faculty and establish new policies and recommendations to improve the environment for women and people of color.
  • Require science department chairs to conduct yearly reports on the participation of women in graduate programs, in research, and on faculty. Require chairs to talk to the provost every year about the progress of non-tenured women in the department.
  • Provide chairs with slots and money to encourage creation of new positions for women. For funding ideas, add incremental resources: return junior slots in exchange for a tenured slot.
  • Educate faculty regarding issues such as affirmative action, reverse discrimination, and the benefits of diversity. Hold workshops, presentations, brown bag lunches, dinner forums, and informal discussions on these topics.
  • Develop a clear sexual harassment policy that effectively creates a safe and respectful environment for women faculty, staff, and students.
  • Offer adequate childcare services and after-school programs and/or activities for children.
  • Search aggressively for women candidates by networking with graduate schools and other organizations that might have information about women and people of color.
  • Pledge new slots in anticipation of retirements in the next decade.
  • Offer women salary and benefit packages equal to their male colleagues.
  • Define new positions in departments in broad terms of expertise and identify the range of scholarship and skill that will contribute to the department.
  • Apply to the National Science Foundation's Visiting Professorship for Women Program to replace a faculty member on sabbatical with a woman.
  • Advance the visibility of women at all levels in academia. Invite distinguished women scholars to present research results and give presentations at conferences, seminars, and during other opportunities.
  • Establish procedures for spousal hiring.
  • Respect faculty members' commitment to family and personal obligations.
  • Support non-traditional career paths that provide women with a strong leadership base and scientific scholarship.

Dual Careers

  • Develop a dual career and joint position policy before the institution begins searching for candidates.
  • Study the progress of institutions that have creatively dealt with spousal hiring.
  • Make special efforts to reward and retain outstanding prospects.
  • Create new lines for hiring in the department.
  • Encourage president/provost to initiate funding for interdepartmental hiring of dual career positions.

Tenure and Promotion

  • Create a written, formal policy outlining the criteria for advancement, promotion, and/ or tenure, and the procedure involved in seeking promotion and/or tenure.
  • Develop more flexible timelines for tenure and/or promotion for all employees.Ensure that there are equitable policies regarding salary increases, annual review, and feedback for faculty.
  • Include at least one woman faculty member on every tenure review committee.
  • Allow faculty to review material in their tenure and promotion dossiers.
  • Actively seek the career advancement of women postdoctoral re-search associates.
  • Provide junior faculty with annual written evaluations, written detailed third-year reviews, and frequent discussions with the department chair about professional progress.
  • For new women hires and for existing women faculty, promote salary equity and use benefits to enhance recruitment and retention.
  • Appoint women academics to leadership positions, including department chairs, deans, and policy-making committees.
  • Make public efforts to advance women academics in national, regional, and local speeches and presentations, articles and papers, and in publications and newsletters.

Mentoring Faculty

  • Develop written guidelines for a formal mentoring program.
  • Actively monitor current, informal mentoring programs for incoming tenure track faculty and train existing faculty.
  • Reward mentors based on the quality of interaction with protégés.
  • Ensure that the department is aware of any university-wide mentoring programs.
  • Encourage faculty to seek mentors in professional science organizations and other local science organizations.
  • Give junior faculty assistance in prioritizing teaching, research, and grant-writing.
  • Encourage women faculty to join a campus-wide group for women science faculty, or institute a group if one does not already exist.
  • Make substantial efforts to decrease the professional and personal isolation of women post-doctoral research associates by encouraging them to interact with other women post-doctoral associates, graduate students, and women faculty members.
  • Invite women to deliver papers and speeches, and recommend them for honors and awards in their professional societies or for membership in the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, or the Institute of Medicine.

Mentoring Students

  • Match advanced students with students just entering the department and monitor the results to see what techniques do and do not work in order to develop future programs.
  • Offer regular opportunities for faculty and students to interact professionally and socially outside the classroom.
  • Encourage female faculty to act as role models and mentors to female students.
  • Establish a mentoring program for students of color or non-traditional students, such as returning students or students with non-science academic backgrounds.
  • Create a visiting speakers program and invite women scientists to speak. Provide time for the speakers to meet with female students.
  • Sponsor an inter-departmental "Women in Science Event" and invite students at regional and/or branch schools to attend.
  • Foster interactions among professional women scientists and students.
  • Establish an orientation program for first-year graduate students. Incoming graduate students could be paired with more senior graduate students to orient the newer students to the department and to research work.
  • Develop a rotation program to assist graduate students in choosing an advisor, and/or have a seminar program during which faculty members give an informal talk on their work.
  • Advance programs to encourage and develop students, such as help sessions for homework problems, student-faculty colloquia, or longer office hours so that faculty can be more accessible to students.
  • Encourage students to network among themselves and to develop external support networks.
  • Involve students at all levels in the faculty hiring process to enable them to have adequate input into the decision-making process, to give them a taste of what it means to be a faculty member, and to better prepare them for future job interviews.
  • Encourage undergraduate student participation in student affiliate chapters of professional science societies such as the American Physical Society and the Society of Women Engineers.
  • Support student chapters of AWIS and/or informal science clubs or organizations.

Family and Work

  • Be sensitive to the impact and stress of academic positions on faculty members' partners and family life.
  • Clarify policies on parental leave, extended tenure clock, and child-care for faculty and students.
  • Create a departmental bulletin board on which such policy notices may be posted.
  • Develop a more flexible timeline for advancement, promotion, and/or tenure. Allow for decreased teaching loads and manageable committee assignments. Require that these policies not penalize or jeopardize women academics' tenure evaluations.
  • Develop institutional programs to provide adequate child-care facilities, collaborate with local private facilities, or create a child-care cooperative on campus.
  • Provide after-school care and/or programs for employees' children.
  • Offer information on care and referral for elderly relatives.
  • Provide for flexible work hours, including part-time schedules and extended leaves to care for sick relatives.
  • Offer quality, affordable health care that extends to families and domestic partners.

Faculty-Administration Communication

  • Initiate an organized system of faculty representation to the administration, such as an elected faculty senate to give faculty members a voice within the college or university.
  • Encourage the university administration, in consultation with the faculty, to articulate the goals, mission, and future direction of the departments.
  • Consult with the faculty in the development of teaching schedules and contact hour credits, or allow the department chairs to coordinate the scheduling in consultation with the faculty.
  • Sponsor a reception at the beginning of the year for women in the departments to meet, consult each other, develop a network, and make contacts with people in the administration and other departments.
  • Have an annual faculty development workshop, covering policies, guidelines, regulations, and other important issues.
  • Institute a yearly departmental faculty retreat to discuss long-term planning and pertinent issues within the department.

Informal Networking

  • Encourage women science faculty to join a campus-wide group for women science faculty, or create one if one does not already exist.
  • Designate space within the department to serve as a common lounge for students and faculty.
  • Institute social events like brown bag lunches, receptions before colloquia, weekly journal clubs, and other creative opportunities to develop leadership, skills, and knowledge.
  • Establish a department table in the cafeteria(s), so that faculty and student majors can interact informally and exchange information and ideas.
  • Encourage casual conversation among faculty. Provide a source of free coffee or tea.
  • Encourage undergraduate science majors to form a science club or organization as a formal part of the student activities program. Encourage members to exchange support, information, and assistance, and to network among themselves to resolve issues of concern and develop leadership.
  • Form a graduate student group that functions