Upfront

Texas A&M University won a five-year $3.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to establish a center that will support women faculty in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields using APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace principles.

Texas A&M incorporated the principles into the center’s mission with the goal of institutionalizing initiatives and activities that reach the entire university community, says psychologist Stephanie Payne, PhD, one of the members of the leadership team that will study the center’s impact. The principles emphasize helping employees grow through recognition, involvement, health and well-being, and work-life balance.

"Everyone benefits through the approach that we are taking," says Payne. "To the extent that we can make Texas A&M a more psychologically healthy workplace, it will be a less stressful and more welcoming environment for all faculty, staff and students."

The university launched the ADVANCE Center for Women Faculty in October. Among the center’s initial round of projects are the Rotating Administrator Program, which places women faculty in administrative positions for a semester to gain leadership experience, and the Advance Scholar Program for minority women faculty, which matches faculty with mentors of color across multiple universities.

Payne and her colleagues Kathi Miner-Rubino, PhD, and Mindy Bergman, PhD, will gather data to examine the extent to which the programs influence women faculty’s experiences on campus and change how the university community views women in STEM disciplines.

The center will also offer workshops for department heads on avoiding bias and discrimination, says Payne. Payne and her fellow investigators will track whether the training changes how women experience recruitment and hiring at the university.

"We’re hoping that, over time, women will be allocated packages equitable to men," says Payne.

The grant is funded under NSF’s ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Program, designed to increase the representation and advancement of women in STEM careers.

More information about APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program and principles is available online.

—J. Chamberlin