ADVANCE Adaptation: Adaptations for Sustainable Policies and Increased Recruitment Excellence in Diversity

Adaptations for Sustainable Policies and Increased Recruitment Excellence in Diversity (ASPIRED) at the University of Memphis, under the leadership of Dr. Esra Ozdenerol, will adapt evidence-based strategies from other ADVANCE institutions to change the institutional climate at the University of Memphis (UofM) and increase gender equity in recruitment, hiring, retention, and advancement in STEM. UofM needs a strategic institutional investment in recruitment and retention activities, coordinated initiatives across the institution, and improvement of institutional processes to foster a culturally and gender inclusive environment that promotes the advancement of STEM women faculty, especially URMs (Underrepresented minority).

ASPIRED aims to address four problems identified by STEM women faculty: 1) implicit bias, 2) isolation, 3) ambiguity and inequality in career advancement, and 4) poor work-life integration. To do so, ASPIRED will deploy three interventions across all STEM disciplines, each incorporating multiple strategies: UofM-Intersect will improve awareness of diversity and inclusion best practices campus-wide to foster an inclusive, culturally responsive work environment through educating search committees, providing training on implicit bias using online case studies, and implementing department climate improvement workshops and grants; UofM-Connect will improve social and professional connections to increase women faculty's sense of belonging and career advancement through networking, and professional development opportunities; UofM-Integrate will improve women faculty's satisfaction with their work-life-family integration by developing a culture that values personal, familial, and professional roles through policy awareness and development as well as work-family integration.

The ASPIRED strategies will serve as an exportable best-practice model with impacts far beyond the UofM. Diversifying the faculty and improving the climate in STEM departments at UofM is an important step towards closing the achievement gap by improving retention (e.g., URM student and faculty) and ultimately enhancing the STEM workforce in the Memphis region and beyond. Additionally, broader participation will be encouraged at the UofM through opportunities to participate in UofM-Connect STEM webinars, that will increase networking and collaboration as well as exposure to minority STEM leaders and academic leaders of the region.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) 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 diverse faculty in academic institutions. Organizational barriers that inhibit equity may exist in policies, processes, practices, and the organizational culture and climate. ADVANCE "Adaptation" awards provide support for the adaptation and adoption of evidence-based strategies to academic, non-profit institution of higher education as well as non-academic, non-profit organizations.