ADVANCE Professors Spearhead New Equity Program for Faculty

May 21, 2012 | Atlanta, GA

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  • Mary Frank Fox

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A new plan developed by the distinguished ADVANCE women professors in each of Georgia Tech's six colleges will introduce a campus-wide equity program for faculty advancement.  The new Equity Program, combined with on-going strategies, is intended to sustain and enhance the Institute as a diverse, world-leading technological community.

Mary Frank Fox, ADVANCE professor in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts and an original Co-PI of the National Science Foundation ADVANCE award ($3.7 million, 2001-07), chaired the ADVANCE Professors Program in fall 2011.  She took a lead in authoring the 2012-14 ADVANCE Plan that proposed the Equity Program. 

“Equity, along with diverse excellence and advancement among faculty, are three core elements of the Georgia Tech ADVANCE Program,” Fox said. “These cornerstones are connected.  Equity in hiring and evaluation is the lever of the recruitment and advancement of a diverse and accomplished faculty, and are crucial to constituting a world-class institution.” 

A leading researcher in gender, science and academia, Fox says that the new Equity Plan enlarges Georgia Tech’s long-standing, distinctive commitment to institutional transformation in the area of faculty advancement.

“No other academic institution has approached institutional transformation as centrally,” said Fox.  “The GT initiative was one of the very few, if not the only, ADVANCE initiative nationally that has addressed clarity and equity in evaluation.  This is not a prescriptive formula for evaluation--but rather fair and transparent processes.  This is an ongoing process that requires continuous attention and that is the impetus for this plan.”

More than two decades of efforts have brought a slow increase in women faculty at Georgia Tech, but the number of women in the ranks of distinguished professors remains remarkably low:  In the College of Computing, for example, two of fourteen active distinguished, regents, or chaired professors are women. In the College of Engineering (COE), only eight (6.5%) are held by women, while women are 15% of the faculty in COE. The College of Sciences has one woman distinguished professor at the level of full professor.

The 2012-2014 ADVANCE Plan continues a range of strategies including enhancement of the inter-college network of distinguished ADVANCE professors who are world-class researchers and models for Georgia Tech, and the plan addresses issues particular to Colleges and to Institute-wide concerns of productivity and livability.The equity program is being designed as a core underpinning for hiring and evaluation practices.

Georgia Tech Provost Rafael Bras said, “GT has always been committed to excellence and equity in its hiring and promotion practices. But excellence and equity requires constant vigilance and adherence to best practices and clear processes. The work of the ADVANCE professors will help us in our “relentless pursuit of institutional effectiveness.”

Already underway is a systematic study of equity models at other academic institutions that will inform design of the Georgia Tech program.  Spearheaded by the ADVANCE professors, partners in this initiative are the deans in each of the colleges, Provost Rafael Bras, and Vice President for Institute Diversity, Archie Ervin. Ultimately, stakeholders from across the institute will be engaged in the process.

A Global Horizon

With the Equity Program underway, Fox and her colleagues are already anticipating the future.  Georgia Tech’s growing international profile provides opportunity to expand horizons for women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields around the world by serving as a model of recommended practices.  

Vice President for Institute Diversity Archie Ervin said, “The ADVANCE program and the new Equity Program, are a new and integral step toward the institutionalization of fair processes, advancement, and diversity of faculty.   This is a critical part of Georgia Tech’s national leadership and stature and competitiveness as a premier 21st century world leader in the advancement of faculty.” 

Indeed, as GT prepares to mark 60 years of women students at Georgia Tech, the cadre of distinguished ADVANCE professors will work toward goals for a productive environment that supports not only women but the larger community of all faculty.

The ADVANCE professors are: Mary Frank Fox (IAC), Mary Ann Ingram (COE), Wing Suet Li (COS), Dana Randall, (COC), Catherine Ross (COA), and Christina Shalley (COM).

Read more about ADVANCE and GT’s ADVANCE professors.

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