By Sasha Narinesingh
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a $50,000 prize to the Office to Advance Women, Equity & Diversity’s (AWED) FIU ADVANCE team for their work in enhancing gender diversity, specifically in their biomedical and behavioral science departments within the university.
This is the first time the NIH’s Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) has granted the Prize for Enhancing Faculty Gender Diversity, which strives to reward universities whose biomedical and behavioral science departments have exhibited consistent advancement in gender diversity. The award honors and celebrates institutions’ transformative strategies, initiatives and procedures that have successfully increased and sustained gender diversity. FIU was one of only 10 organizations recognized by the ORWH.
FIU ADVANCE, which falls within AWED, has a variety of initiatives aimed at furthering gender faculty equity. A few of the programs that helped push FIU to the forefront are the ADVANCE Florida Network (AFN) which provides mentoring, networking, collaboration and professional opportunities to tenured and tenure-track STEM women; STRIDE (Strategies and Tactics for Recruitment to Increase Diversity and Excellence); and Women Faculty Leadership Institute (WFLI).
In these programs, AWED promotes best practices to strengthen employee engagement and their sense of belonging to the university. Some of the best practices that led to AWED’s success and recognition are requiring a diversity statement as part of job applications, evaluating fairly by establishing and using a rubric with job-relevant criteria and ensuring interviewers treat all candidates as valuable scholars, not representatives of their demographic group.
“We are extremely proud to be to be recognized for the work we’re doing to promote gender diversity,” said Caroline Simpson, associate director of AWED, equity advisor and College of Arts, Sciences & Education professor. “Our work aligns with FIU’s goals to be a diverse, supportive and inclusive place where everyone has the opportunity to succeed.
"Increasing faculty diversity allows for more perspectives and has a positive impact on student success in the long run,” Simpson added, highlighting AWED’s broader faculty diversity initiatives, such as the Mentor Professor Program, which recently welcomed five new mentor professors this fall semester.
The FIU ADVANCE team will use the funds from the award to continue providing their Bystander Leadership Program to faculty who have not yet had the opportunity to participate. This program is aimed at reducing gender and race bias and increasing inclusion among faculty. Earlier this year, the team was recognized specifically for the Bystander Leadership Program, which was named the winner of the 2020 Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Platinum Award in the category of Best Practices in Diversity Programming, CASE’s most prestigious award.
“At AWED, we are incredibly grateful to have these national recognitions for our inclusive excellence programming and accomplishments,” said Suzanna Rose, vice provost, co-principal investigator and lead researcher for FIU ADVANCE. “We hope it will encourage other universities to consider adopting the Bystander Leadership Program.”
On Oct. 5, ORWH will host a forum, “Effective Approaches to Fostering Faculty Gender Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Celebrating Progress," formally recognizing the winning institutions and sharing their effective, evidence-based practices to enhance faculty gender diversity and equity.Click here to register for the forum.