Cal Poly Professor’s Research Project Awarded Almost $750,000 National Science Foundation Award

Cal Poly social sciences Professor Coleen Carrigan is part of a team that has been awarded a $748,780 National Science Foundation grant to study women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and develop ways to broaden their participation in these fields.

Launching Academics on the Tenure-Track: An Intentional Community in Engineering (LATTICE) is a four-and-a-half-year NSF ADVANCE project that will create two professional development programs for early career women. The first program will be designed for women in electrical and computer engineering; the second will be for underrepresented women in engineering.

The project team will study these professional development programs ethnographically so that others can adapt and replicate them. Carrigan will help design, execute and evaluate the programs and lead the ethnographic research, which will focus on:

— Individual and group values, politics, and practices of longstanding change-agents in the NSF ADVANCE community to understand how to further advance transformations in STEM;
— Differences in social identities and disciplines of both organizers and participants and their outcomes; and
— Feminist strategies to facilitate consciousness-raising and transformative leadership to forge collective leadership that enacts institutional change.

“This research is intended to create new knowledge on social change efforts in academic engineering and the principles, politics and processes critical to the proliferation of successful intervention programs that ensure the success of faculty underrepresented in engineering,” Carrigan said. “While the number of women in STEM has increased in recent years, computer engineering and electrical engineering stubbornly remain the most male dominated of these fields. Women of color are especially underrepresented in engineering and often face systemic disadvantages to their career advancement with constrained access to mentoring, network activities, and support.”

Carrigan is also a core faculty member in Cal Poly’s interdisciplinary Science, Technology and Society minors program in the College of Liberal Arts. She earned a doctorate in sociocultural anthropology from the University of Washington and was a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Washington ADVANCE Center for Institutional Change.

Co-principal investigators of this research project include professors Christine Grant and Julie Ivy of North Carolina State University and Eve Riskin, Joyce Yen, and M. Claire Horner-Divine of the University of Washington.

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