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On-Ramps

The On-Ramps program is part of UMBC’s on-going commitment to creating work environments that are family friendly and encourage career-life balance for our faculty. Specifically geared toward Associate Professor women in STEM, On-Ramps counters the unforgiving structure of lock-step progression in post-tenure advancement.

Background: 

Fifty-four percent of our women associate professors in STEM have used the UMBC Family Support Plan at some point in their career but, overall, are at higher risk of remaining longer in rank than their male counterparts due to the “unforgiving” lock-step structure of academia. In Staying Competitive: Patching America’s Leaky Pipeline in the Sciences, (Goulden, Frasch, and Mason, 2009) this structure is characterized as particularly “unforgiving” because STEM faculty are under great pressure to maintain an uninterrupted cycle of grants in order to produce results that lead to publications which, in turn, are needed to secure additional funding. The time-intensive nature of this activity puts women, who often carry significant care-giving responsibilities throughout their career, at higher risk of experiencing “productivity gaps” which inevitably stall their progression to senior faculty ranks. Support from federal grants and contracts, coupled with high publication rates, has always been strongly associated with career advancement in the sciences and social sciences at Carnegie ranked research institutions. Overall, tenured faculty in the sciences who were direct recipients of federal monetary support are 44% more likely to advance to full professor at all types of institutions, and 60% more likely to advance at research-intensive institutions. And yet, several studies have confirmed that women are less likely than men to apply for federal funding, and those with children were 26% less likely to do so than women who were married without children, and 19% less likely than single women without children to have their work even partially funded by federal grants and contracts (Goulden et al., 2009). Similar studies of publication and citation rates have found that, on average, male scientists published 40-60% more articles than their
female counterparts. (Hancock, K, and Baum, M, 2009).

Activities: 

  1. Research Acceleration Grants: as a means of countering the effects from obstacles to advancement, carefully calibrated support at critical junctures is provided to post-family leave associate professors as a means of accelerating research productivity while minimizing the effects of productivity gaps. UMBC granted 8 awards in 2015-2016. Categories of targeted support include:

• course releases (available up to .25% effort) and summer stipends which are designed to
counter time constraints associated with ongoing family responsibilities;
• research graduate assistant support (up to 20 hrs/week) to accelerate the production of
meaningful research outcomes;
• research writing support to develop grant proposals and move initial findings to conference
proceedings and journal publications in a timely manner, and
• domestic and international travel grants to facilitate dissemination and professional networking in
venues considered appropriate for facilitating promotion to full professor within the discipline.

2. Research Writing Cohort: under the guidance of writing consult, Dr. Carole Sargent, a cohort of 16 women professor in STEM work together and independently to move their grants, journal articles, and book projects forward.

Outcomes: 

Over the course of one-year of funding the 8 recipients of the research acceleration grants accomplished the following:

  • 8 funded grants
  • 8 published journal manuscripts
  • 11 conference proceedings/paper presentations
  • 2 conference keynotes
  • 6 poster presentations
  • 8 leadership roles at conference (i.e., co-chair of conference committee, short papers and posters track)
  • 8 review panels (i.e., NSF review panel)
  • 1 leadership roles at journals (i.e., journal editorial board)

Publications and Presentations Related to On-Ramps

  1. Encouraging Equilibrium: Career-Life Balance Outreach and the Advancement of Women in Engineering.” Proceedings of the 13th LACCEI Annual International Conference: “Engineering Education Facing the Grand Challenges, What Are We Doing?” Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. 2015.
  2. UMBC Family Support Plan: Fostering Career-Life Balance for Women in STEM 

“On Ramps” to Full Professor: Institutional Support for Post-Family Leave Faculty Research Reintegration, receives support from the National Science Foundation, grant # 1446406. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.