The University of Montana-Missoula PArtnership for Comprehensive Equity (PACE) opened shop in September 2003 with an Institutional Transformation grant from the NSF ADVANCE Program. The ADVANCE program, with its goal of increasing "the representation and advancement of women in academic science and engineering careers," began in response to growing awareness in the scientific community of the disproportionate representation of talented women scientists at different levels of the academic hierarchy. To date, twenty-eight ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grants have been awarded to study the causes of this gender imbalance and devise strategies to address it.
Project PACE is founded in an alliance of administrators, deans, department heads, and faculty who share concern about gender-based inequity and recognize the need for change. We feel, to a large extent, the exclusion or delayed advancement of talented women scientists in academe is due to the unconscious and unintended accumulation of gender-based disadvantages. We are drawn together in a commitment to identify these disadvantages, and to recognize and address the underlying issues.
Project PACE is built of the following components: Policy, Recruitment, Retention, Assessment, and Outreach.
The Policy component examines UM policy in light of the PACE goals. PACE addresses University policy on such issues as on-site child care options, parental leave, spousal/partner employment opportunities, and tenure clock adjustment. In addition, the Policy component assists in individual science departments' evaluations and gender diversity plans.
The Recruitment component gathers information on successful recruiting strategies; provides resources, advice, and training to search committees and department heads; and meets with candidates.
Coordinating with the Policy component, Retention efforts are focused on improving work-life at UM. PACE Director, Penny Kukuk, has served as the Chair of the University-wide Quality of Work Life Council, which institutionalizes much of the PACE retention work. PACE continues to promote mentoring and professional development among faculty. PACE funds a Visiting Scholar/Mentor program, which allows pre-tenure UM faculty to work collaboratively with experts from other universities. PACE also supports Working/Writing Groups, retreats which allow for informal mentoring and designated time for finishing projects and proposals. PACE holds Women in Science lunches and breakfasts, which highlight one researcher’s work and allow for networking between departments. Working with the UM Administration, PACE is also trying to improve one-on-one mentoring for all pre-tenure faculty at UM.
PACE's Assessment component has two parts, external and internal. External evaluation is conducted by the Center for Evaluation through University of Western Michigan. Internal evaluation, in addition to assessing our status quo and our progress, conducts studies of gender issues at UM-Missoula, such as why women candidates decline or accept job offers, and why women scientists remain or leave UM.
The Outreach component involves networking with women tribal scientists nationally, creating a directory of Montana women scientists, developing innovative resources for native scientists, and forming support systems to insure the success of native graduate students.
Our goals are global. Though individual ADVANCE programs differ in structure and approach, we continuously share insights, strategies, and solutions, in order to generate useful models for change. We believe the entire scientific enterprise will be enhanced and strengthened through full inclusion of the talents and gifts of women scientists.