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The underrepresentation of women and minority groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) related fields of employment and study is a widespread and serious issue in academia. Dr. Suzanna RosePsychology professor and Founding Associate Provost of the Office to Advance Women, Equity, & Diversity, is breaking down the barriers that women and minorities face in taking up faculty positions within higher education institutions. Her mission is to achieve, sustain and advocate for faculty diversity at FIU.

Similarly, Dr. Yesim Darici, Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI), Professor of Physics, Director of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies and Assistant Provost for STEM, noted: “In this day and age, we need to ensure women’s voices are heard. There are many obstacles women in academia and industry face throughout their careers and now is the time for everybody to be aware of them. As such, it’s important to educate both international faculty and US faculty on issues of diversity and equity.”

The approach to tackling the issue is multi-faceted. The team describes how, “AWED develops and manages a wide range of programs to promote faculty equity, diversity, and inclusion, including workshops and training to improve faculty hiring and promotion processes, faculty mentoring, and interdisciplinary networking.”

Other activities include strategic planning for salary equity, policy analysis and development, and other initiatives that support faculty diversity. Of particular note is their program known as FIU ADVANCE. FIU ADVANCE aims to increase, retain, and promote more women and underrepresented minorities throughout their institution, especially in higher faculty positions, and has initiated two new directions for achieving these goals. First, it addresses the gender, cultural, and ethnic biases implicit in the field, and second, it focuses on promoting behavioural change as well as paradigm shifts in attitude through its Bystander Leadership Program.

FIU ADVANCE is already having a significant, positive impact. There are many barriers to women and minority groups reaching out for faculty positions in higher education institutions and it is vital that this is addressed by way of systemic change and improved practice, policy, and education.

Read more on how Dr. Rose and Dr. Darici are addressing inequality in Education.