A Lab of Their Own

Attract them as students and recruit them as faculty. Do what you can to keep them in the academy. That’s generally been the mantra of those who are concerned about the dearth of women in university science.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is trying to shift some of that attention to another goal: Move them up. As in, once you’ve started to succeed at hiring women for junior positions, it’s time to set out a plan to get them to become full professors. That’s the intent of Reforming Advancement Processes through University Professions (or RAMP-UP), an initiative announced Tuesday during an RPI summit on women’s advancement in academe.

The effort is funded by a $329,960 grant from the National Science Foundation. Cheryl Geisler, the project’s leader and department head of language, literature and communications, said that while RPI — led by a female scientist — has had recent success hiring women at the assistant professor level, there’s little tradition of female representation in the senior ranks, although there has been recent progress.