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Advancing academic women

TAMPA, Fla. - The Alliance for the Advancement of Florida Women in Chemistry and Engineering, a National Science Foundation advanced-paid grant, bound together five Florida universities to create a text detailing methods of future collaborations for the progression of academic women.

“Alliances for Advancing Academic Women: Guidelines for Collaborating in STEM Fields” is a compilation of ideas and methods developed by academics from across the state of Florida. Michelle Hughes Miller, Ph.D., from the University of South Florida, as well as professors from Florida State University and Florida International University came together as co-editors of the book. Their goals were to detail their collaborative process as well as promote future collaborations among other universities.

“The book is a culmination of AAFWACE’s activities,” said Chrystal Smith Ph.D., AAFWACE program manager. “It isn’t just a presentation of data. It is a call for more collaboration. There is strength in numbers.”

The University of Florida and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University also collaborated on this book.

The AAFWACE’s goals are to promote the recruitment, retention and implementation of leadership activities for women in science, technology, engineering and math fields (STEM). They hope to not only advance women who are already in their fields, but also to provide mentors and programs for aspiring young women.

In December 2012, Penny Gilmer, Ph.D. invited Hughes Miller, an associate professor of women’s and gender studies at USF, to bring in her experience as a co-editor of the book.

The book was set at that time, but Hughes Miller brought a fresh pair of editorial eyes to the table. She assisted in guiding the authors of each chapter and reminding them to set aside personal thoughts and feelings to keep the main goal of creating a guidebook in mind.

Gilmer also invited Hughes Miller to write metalogues for the end of each chapter, allowing her to bring both experience and additional explanation to the text. The metalogues, according to Hughes Miller, are a reflection of the piece and allowed her the opportunity to become much closer to every chapter.

Hughes Miller got her start in advancing women at her previous institution, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where she was a director in the Diversity and Equal opportunity office. There she began to delve into issues that stunted the growth of academic women in STEM fields and worked to implement programs to resolve these issues.

Though Hughes Miller was essential in the completion of the final product, the book would not have been possible if not for the work of Gilmer and Berrin Tansel, Ph.D.

The women and men involved in creating both the book and AAFCWE are paving a way for young women in STEM fields by coming together and breaking barriers.

“For young women contemplating their advanced degrees in STEM with the hope of an academic career, please know that we understand some of the challenges you might face, and we’re working diligently to reduce those challenges along the way,” Hughes Miller said.


Filed under:Women’s and Gender Studies Arts and Sciences    
Author: Victoria Babcock