LSU to Explore Gender Inequities in Research and Academia with $300K National Science Foundation Grant

LSU campusBATON ROUGE — As many universities and colleges grapple with issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity, an LSU group has been awarded nearly $300,000 by the National Science Foundation to implement the LSU ADVANCE Catalyst project, which will lay the groundwork for a greater awareness of intersectionality in academia.

Through the project, the researchers will investigate gender inequities in academic leadership and research and help develop a meaningful equity strategic plan to address those inequities.  

“Before we can achieve equity in academia at LSU, we need to first examine the structures in place that are hindering progress,” said Cynthia Peterson, principal investigator on the grant and dean of the LSU College of Science. “This grant will allow us to not only start the process, but to also determine next steps for improving the recruitment, hiring, and retention of women and underrepresented minority STEM faculty.”

Working alongside Peterson as co-principal investigators are: Stacia Haynie, executive vice president and provost; Samuel J. Bentley, vice president of research and economic development; Zakiya Wilson-Kennedy, assistant dean for diversity and inclusion in the College of Science; and Niki Norton, assistant vice president of human resource management.

The NSF ADVANCE program is designed to foster gender equity through a focus on the identification and elimination of organizational barriers that inhibit the full participation and advancement of diverse faculty in academic institutions. 

This two-year project will use the human performance technology (HPT) model, which provides a systematic and comprehensive approach to improving the work performance of individuals in an organization by investigating the lived experiences of workers, the work that they do, and the environment in which they conduct their work. By drawing on the HPT model, the group will examine the inequities in the faculty experience and relevant organizational practices. 

“The impacts of what we can learn are broad,” Wilson-Kennedy said. “Higher education requires an intersectional lens in order to develop a deeper understanding of different issues and concerns. We need to make this investment in science and inclusive excellence.”

Through the grant, LSU ADVANCE Catalyst will focus on four objectives: Knowing LSU through a campus study of university microclimates; telling LSU’s story through institutional data analyses and strategic communication; catalyzing equity by piloting equity strategies that close gaps; and planning for the future by developing an inclusive five-year equity action plan.

 “LSU has demonstrated a commitment to diversity in many ways, but we still have much to do,” Bentley said. “This ADVANCE award provides a framework for us to study and improve our campus climate, with a focus on women faculty. This is one important part of the work we must do towards our overall goal of inclusive excellence, and support for all facets of diversity.”

LSU College of Science Communications