Kansas State University was awarded an ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2003. The funding period for this $3.5 million award ended in September, 2010. In 2011, ADVANCE became one of the programs under the KAWSE Office umbrella. KAWSE's mission is to enhance the environment for girls and women interested in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields (STEM). The KAWSE office serves as the university's administrative center for pre-college outreach, undergraduate retention, graduate and postdoctoral fellow support, and faculty support programs. The ADVANCE program offers networking opportunities and support for postdoctoral fellows and faculty in STEM disciplines.
At K-State, the original ADVANCE program began with six partner departments in the natural sciences, veterinary medicine, and engineering. These departments agreed to learn more about gender issues and initiate self-studies of their policies, procedures and other documents to ensure they were gender equitable. In year four, the program expanded to include four additional departments. The project now includes all Science, Engineering, Mathematics, and Social Science departments in the colleges of Arts & Sciences, Agriculture, Engineering, and Veterinary Medicine.
The ADVANCE program at K-State has four project goals: creating a more gender-equitable climate, increasing the recruitment of women faculty, ensuring the retention and advancement of women faculty, and institutionalizing best practices throughout the university. These goals have been addressed through a number of initiatives, from Equity Action Workshops (climate), targeted recruitment visits (recruitment), a Distinguished Lectureship program that matches junior faculty with established scholars in their fields (retention and advancement), and ongoing assessment and dissemination concerning ADVANCE initiatives (institutionalization).
Enhancing the recruitment, retention and advancement of women not only increases the talent pool among our faculty, it also helps to ensure diverse viewpoints and novel ways of thinking about scientific and social problems. In an increasingly complicated social world, universities can ill afford to neglect the talent that diversity brings to the academy.