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Chemistry & Biochemistry Clinches "Everybody WINS" Award

Chemistry & Biochemistry Clinches "Everybody WINS" Award
The Department of Biochemistry and Chemistry was given the "Everybody WINS" award by Women in Natural Sciences (WINS) for 2008. The award is given annually to the department that most successfully uses current best practices to recruit and retain women and underrepresented minority faculty.

According to Dr. Lynne McAnelly, program director of WINS, the Department of Biochemistry and Chemistry participated in national workshops such as Building Strong Academic Departments through Gender Equity in 2006 and Excellence Empowered by a Diverse Academic Workforce: Achieving Racial and Ethnic Equity in Chemistry in 2008. Through such workshops the department developed a plan to increase the percentage of women and minority candidates in their job applicant pool. These included practices such as broadening search areas, using their own faculty members as "talent scouts" at meetings and seminars, and making direct contacts with colleagues to identify promising candidates for faculty positions.

"They made a decision as a department that it was important to enhance faculty diversity and developed an effective plan to achieve this goal," says McAnelly.

As a result, the number of women in the applicant pool increased. Over the 2-year period from 2006 to 2008, 38 percent of the applicants interviewed by the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry were women, and women made up 60 percent of those who accepted job offers. A departmental committee named "Enhancing Departmental Diversity" was formed as well, with the hope they would help maintain a supportive and mentoring environment.

McAnelly believes that retaining women in the scientific workforce is an important issue that needs to be faced. A number of studies have found that women who come into programs like engineering and science as freshmen switch to other majors at greater rates than men. The rate women drop out of such fields increases from the post-doctoral level to becoming a faculty member. There are many women who come in at the front end, McAnelly points out, "but a lot of them leak out of the pipeline along the way."

“Efforts by our departments to bring more women faculty to departments in the College of Natural Sciences are an important step towards plugging those leaks,” she says.
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