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Grant to Stem Tide of Losing Female Faculty

An initiative to transform the University of Maine by enhancing opportunities for women has received an additional $284,093 from the National Science Foundation.

The supplemental funds will be used to develop a regional consortium to assist in the retention of female science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) faculty by facilitating dual-career hiring –– providing opportunities for partners of UMaine faculty and staff members.

The new hiring consortium — Maine Career Connect — will help partners and professionals seeking employment in the region by connecting them with employers and resources, as well as supporting transitions.

“This funding will assist in recruiting and retaining dual-career couples at UMaine,” says Susan Gardner, director of the Rising Tide Center at UMaine.

“In our study of faculty who left UMaine, up to half of those who did so in a given year was due to a lack of employment for their professional spouses and partners.”

National studies have indicated 70 percent of academics, and 83 percent of female scientists, are in dual-career relationships.

UMaine’s ADVANCE Rising Tide Center, which was formed after the initial portion of the five-year, $3.2 million grant was secured, strives to improve opportunities for female faculty members in social-behavioral sciences (SBS) and STEM to “create a rising tide for the entire university.”

The initiative has four goals: to increase the percentage of women teaching in STEM and SBS; to support effective policies and opportunities to recruit, retain and promote female faculty; to decrease isolation of women faculty by fostering a positive work environment, promoting work-life balance, pursuing diversity and partner relocation assistance, lowering barriers to success and improving connections within and outside of Maine; and to engage the University of Maine System and the faculty union with programs and policies.

UMaine’s ADVANCE Rising Tide Center personnel include Jeffrey Hecker, principal investigator and incoming executive vice president of academic affairs and provost. He takes over for Susan Hunter, former provost who Sept. 1 becomes vice chancellor for academic affairs for the University of Maine System; Gardner, associate professor of higher education; Amy Fried, professor of political science; Eleanor Groden, professor of entomology; and Karen Horton, associate professor of mechanical engineering technology.

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

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