The AdvanceRIT (NSF ADVANCE 1209115) program goal is to increase the representation, retention, and career advancement of women faculty in STEM. The research team examines the unique challenges experienced by women faculty of color and Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing faculty, and refines interventions to address the needs of these key sub-populations.

The AdvanceRIT program influences long-term changes that transform RIT’s culture, promote inclusion, and expand the representation of women on campus and among leadership. Program objectives are to refine and strengthen institutional structures; improve the quality of women faculty’s work life including reward structures; align systems of power and resources to support and sustain progress; and enhance the working environment using symbolic measures which emphasize issues of meaning and significance within the organization. 

In 2018 RIT established a permanent ADVANCE office in Academic Affairs with a director and staff.  Achievements below with an asterisk will continue through this office and other University units.

Key Project Achievements:

1) Promote Faculty Advancement and Research Success – Following Programs Institutionalized

a) Created Connect Grants* program to support career development and progression by funding faculty projects consistent with the goals of AdvanceRIT.  Six rounds of grants were awarded ($330K overall with average award of $5.8K) since 2013 with 58 awards supporting over 100 unique faculty members. Dozens of scholarly products resulted including funding proposals, publications, short animations and films.  

(b) Created Connectivity Series* program with 162 professional development events offered over the grant period (AY 2012 – 2017).  A majority of attendees each year have been women from STEM fields with growing participation from all faculty and staff.  Offerings focused on unconscious bias education and workshops covered the recruitment, retention, and advancement of faculty.  Over the grant period, the Connectivity Series reached a total of 904 individuals (523 women and 371 men).  The tenured or pre-tenured (TT) faculty attendees represent 82% of women TT faculty and 44% of men TT faculty who were invited to participate in an event. Since the grant ended, in AY 2018, we hosted an additional 25 events with over 800 participants.

(c) Established mentor access initiatives and the faculty-driven creation of mentoring clusters through Mentoring Workshops*.  Piloted multi-level Women Leadership Development Program utilizing external and internal facilitators and experts as well as best practice benchmarking.  

(d) Addressed length-in-rank issue at the associate professor level, conducted detailed data analysis and developed white paper and initiatives, including the Promotion Package Preparation (P3) Group* workshops and program to address this long-standing issue.  Over 100 faculty have participated in a P3 Workshop since 2016.2) Recruit and Retain Top-Tier Faculty – Focus on Culture Change Efforts – Following Programs Institutionalized

2) Recruit and Retain Top-Tier Faculty – Focus on Culture Change Efforts – Following Programs Institutionalized

To support faculty retention, we focused on culture change initiatives*.  Through carefully crafted workshops, AdvanceRIT has led efforts which promote culture change towards a more inclusive and vibrant learning and work environment.  This culture aligns with our university’s core values and strategic plan and will enable RIT to attract, retain, and advance top-tier faculty.  


2) Recruit and Retain Top-Tier Faculty (continued)

Over the grant period, AdvanceRIT hosted 39 events on enhancing and improving campus culture including: unconscious bias education workshops, bystander awareness workshops using interactive theater, and ground rule discussions. Audiences have reached 628 unique participants (62% women, 38% men) and have included campus leaders, members of RIT’s Academic Senate, promotion/tenure committees, staff, department chairs, and faculty. In AY 2018, we hosted an additional 10 events with over 500 participants.

Faculty retention efforts have resulted in the development of Connectivity Series for Women of Color, the successful P&T SMARTS* program designed for faculty of color with broad offerings to all faculty, the recently launched allofus@RIT* organization which hosts events which engage thoughtful campus change agents, and the successful Connectivity Series for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Women Faculty* which has been expanded to include offerings for all members of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

3) Policies, Practices, Structures, and Supporting Research

The project team worked closely with key administrative partners on faculty evaluation, compensation, and data analysis.  The team developed an important knowledge base of topics through the creation of tip sheets and white papers reflecting relevant research, benchmarking, and faculty data.

Notable policy changes include: the complete rewrite of RIT’s tenure policy E05.0 which incorporates an automatic tenure-extension provision; conducting benchmarking research which informed expansion in 2015 of the parental leave benefits to all university members; conducting research to inform campus dialogue concerning key topics while considering work-life integration.

4) Institutional Collaboration

Several elements related to AdvanceRIT are integrated within the university’s newest Strategic Plan.  The team engaged in productive collaborations resulting in new institutional practices, such as faculty exit interviews*; COACHE climate survey*; dual career program*, gender-equity salary study*; and NSF Indicator data*. The project has consistently worked towards increased transparency regarding resource allocation through the creation of the Resource Allocation Committee*.