It’s no secret that women are in the minority in academia. According to a 2006 report on gender equity indicators by the American Association of University Professors (the only detailed report on the topic), 38 percent of college and university faculty members in the United States are women. At WPI—as at many technological universities—the imbalance is greater, with male faculty members outnumbering women by nearly three to one.
For this reason, the university has taken steps to create a welcoming and supportive environment for its female faculty. In 2012 Provost Eric Overström formed the Task Force on the Recruitment and Retention of Female Faculty to find out how WPI can hire more female faculty members and better support them as they rise through the ranks and seek leadership positions.
According to the task force co-chairs, Karen Kashmanian Oates, Peterson Family Dean of Arts and Sciences, and Kristin Tichenor, senior vice president, the first task at hand was to identify what WPI is currently doing well and what more can be done to enhance the professional development and long-term success of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disciplines.