KU Receives Two Year NSF Grant to Improve Equity in STEM

Students walking over bridge.

KUTZTOWN, Pa. – Dr. Laurie McMillan, associate dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and her team of co-principal investigators, Dr. Michele Baranczyk, assistant professor of psychology, Dr. Moira Conway, assistant professor of geography, and Dr. Lyn McQuaid, associate professor of mathematics, have been awarded a two-year National Science Foundation (NSF) ADVANCE Catalyst grant. The $299,875 grant (NSF-2153776) will support a project titled “Research, Educate and Value Equity at All Levels in STEM” (REVEALS). The project will use an intersectional lens to identify the underlying drivers of systemic gender inequities affecting STEM faculty and culminate in a five-year plan to advance organizational change.  

While the REVEALS project focuses on faculty in the natural and social sciences, the findings will benefit the entire university community by contributing to ongoing campus initiatives that support justice, equity, diversity and inclusiveness. The findings will be shared with NSF ADVANCE networks so that the project at Kutztown University can serve as a model for other colleges and universities.

The REVEALS project will examine concerns with work-life balance, “invisible” or undervalued work and a sense of belonging – all of which may create barriers to tenure, retention in academia and scientific advances.

"I am excited the REVEALS project was funded because it provides resources that will allow us to better understand barriers to equity and how we might address those barriers," McMillan said. "Creating more equitable practices on campus will be better not only for women faculty in STEM fields at Kutztown University, but also for our entire campus community. In addition, Kutztown University will be joining a network of other schools that have been doing similar work, so we will benefit from the research others have done. We will similarly share our findings to help other schools better assess and address their practices that may directly or indirectly create barriers for some STEM faculty to advance their careers in a timely way."

The researchers will use data collection, analysis, institutional self-assessment and knowledge sharing from other ADVANCE projects to gain information on the inequities experienced. The REVEALS project will also pilot a faculty equity advocate position and an online clearinghouse to centralize and improve access to faculty resources. This research and work will be used to develop a five-year plan that will respond to faculty equity challenges through sustainable, evidence-based strategies.  

The NSF ADVANCE program aims to broaden the participation of women and other historically underrepresented groups in academic STEM fields by addressing systemic inequalities at the cultural and structural levels. With the funding of the REVEALS project, Kutztown University joins several prestigious institutions in receiving funding for a local project that has wide-ranging implications for supporting equity among STEM faculty.

For more information, please visit https://www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/advance/.