The current state of women in academia was addressed during the annual meeting of the grant recipients of the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Advance program. Advance grants have helped fund initiatives for increasing the number of female scientists and engineers, as well as creating family-friendly university policies, networking groups, and mentor programs to help schools retain them. University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC) president Freeman A. Hrabowski III says it is time to focus more on the attitudes of department chairs, professors, and top administrators rather than the numbers. At UMBC, which received a $3.2 million Advance grant in 2003, 54 percent of assistant professors in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are women. “You can’t change attitudes unless you know what people really think,” says Hrabowski. He says colleges must continue to work toward institutionalizing the effects of the Advance grants in the current economic climate. “Even when we’re cutting the budget, we have to say we really believe in this, and we’re going to keep doing it,” he says.
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