POSTED: Friday, April 5, 2013 - 2:15pm
UPDATED: Saturday, April 6, 2013 - 11:35am
EDINBURG, TX (KVEO NEWS CENTER 23) — The University of Texas-Pan American recently launched a major initiative designed to increase the representation and advancement of female faculty, particularly those in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math known as STEM. As part of the celebration, the University invited a well known author and former CNN executive to kick off this initiative. Here's Sandra Quintanilla with this week's News Center 23 report.
Dr. Cristina Villalobos is one of 5 women teaching mathematics at UTPA out of 35 math department faculty members. There are few female professors in other STEM related classrooms as well. But the university is hopeful that will change with the new ADVANCE Leadership Institute. The institute was created as part of a $3.1 million dollar National Science Foundation 5 year grant awarded to UT Pan Am to increase the representation and advancement of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields across all academic disciplines and leadership roles.
Dr. Cristina Villalobos, Associate Professor of Mathematics & Dir. of the Center for Excellence, "We need more women to get tenure to be in full professor positions and administrative positions and leadership positions cause that's really where the big decisions are being made and if we're not part of that agenda then most of the issues that are important for women and the advancement of women are gone."
To help bring attention to this important issue and launched the ADVANCE Leadership Institute, UTPA brought in prominent author and retired CNN executive vice president Gail Evans. Evans whose best-selling book is "Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman" shared some valuable lessons she learned during her rise in the male dominated world of TV journalism. She talked to an audience of both female and male faculty about gender issues in the workplace and how women can support and empower one another.
"I want to talk to the women about how important it is that they began to work together and play like a team. That it’s not just about the individual who talks about I can do it but it’s about what we can do together."
She told the women faculty that it's important for them to be role models for the younger generation of females considering STEM fields.
"Girls who are very smart when they are in elementary school, and then in high school began to drop out from those fields because they don’t have role models. women like to do things they see other women doing. Same thing is true with men you know if a man's never done it other men are not interested in doing it. Once the men see a male nurse they understand, “oh this is a good career I can do it” and so we need to have more and more women to role model that these are possible fields.
Thanks to the 3.1 million dollar grant, The ADVANCE Leadership Institute is providing training for female faculty on such topics as the role of a leader, decision making and problem solving, collaboration, strategic planning and conflict management and resolution. Funding is also being made available to hire graduate assistants to help them with research and for other advancement opportunities.
I'm Sandra Quintanilla reporting for UTPA and News Center 23.