The final WIN report submitted to NSF in the fall of 2012 can be viewed by clicking here.

The summary of recommendations can be viewed by clicking on RECOMMENDATIONS on this page’s right menu bar.


Boston University began its NSF ADVANCE PAID initiative, “WIN: Women in networks, Building Community and Gaining Voice,” to strengthen the networks of women scientists and engineers at BU in order to increase the work satisfaction, retention, and advancement of STEM women faculty. The WIN programs included pre-tenure mentoring, networking receptions, sponsored colloquia, and Erskine grants, named in memory of Professor of Biology Mary Erskine. All WIN programs and research efforts included faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences, the College of Engineering, and Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. Several WIN programs were open to men as well as to women faculty members. The WIN initiative benefitted enormously from the synergistic activities undertaken simultaneously by BU WISE under the direction of a rotating chairmanship. WISE also initiated activities designed to enhance women’s professional networks and to foster other aspects of professional development.

All of the programs put into place as part of the WIN initiative received very positive reviews from participants. Two of the programs had such impact that we recommend they be continued. First, STEM faculty greatly appreciated the pre–tenure mentoring programs, which introduced them to senior and junior faculty members beyond the bounds of their own departments, fostering some enduring professional relationships and providing multiple perspectives on the critical questions tenure-track faculty face. There was no gender difference in the positive evaluations from participants.

Second, women STEM faculty who received Type I Erskine grants (up to $3,000) to expand or strengthen their networks by bringing potential collaborators to campus, visiting collaborators elsewhere, or networking at professional meetings reported many professional accomplishments that were enabled by the grants. The ability to use these funds in non-traditional ways, such as providing childcare to make professional travel possible, was especially appreciated. Thus, we recommend that the pre-tenure networking programs and the Erskine small grant program be continued by the university in the years to come.

Between AY 2006-2007 and 2010-2011, female representation in tenured and tenure-track positions of STEM departments increased. This expansion was entirely owed, however, to increases in the hiring of females at the Assistant Professor level. Attrition by female scientists and engineers remained dis­propor­tion­ate­ly high, and there was no increase in female representation among Associate and Full Professors. In addition, it is still true of STEM faculty (as it was at the beginning of the WIN grant) that the modal male faculty member is a full professor, while the modal female faculty member is not on the tenure track at all.

Women were generally well represented on college and university level tenure and promotion committees. However, they were better represented as members of these committees than as chairs. In the past five years there has been no female chair of the Appointment, Promotion, and Tenure Committee in Engineering, nor at the University level. Women in CAS and ENG are still underrepresented as department chairs, but the percentage of CAS department chairs who were women increased noticeably, from 0% in 2007 to 12.5% as of 2011.

We recommend continuation of hiring efforts to address under-representation of females, particularly in disciplines where females are well represented in the pool of recent PhD recipients (such as Biology and Biomedical Engineering). These efforts should also not be limited to the junior level. We also recommend that increased attention be paid to faculty members who have been at BU for many years, with respect to such things as recognition of accomplishments, tenure and promotion, and the potential for contributions through leadership positions. To support senior as well as junior STEM women, we also recommend the renewal of support for BU WISE.

We urge the creation of a systematic program of exit interviews, for insights that may be useful, in part (though not only) for increasing retention. We also recommend that the 2007 Climate Survey be rerun so that the university can quantifiably assess the gains that have been achieved in fostering a positive sense of community and can focus on the remaining challenges.

Within the sciences specifically, women at BU do not appear to be at a salary disadvantage relative to their male counterparts (with the exception of one category, in which the number of women is very small). In some cases (and most dramatically in SAR), female scientists’ average salaries are higher than comparable male salaries. Nonetheless, because of larger gender gaps in other divisions, salaries are still more competitive for males than for females at the university overall, especially for Professors. BU still ranks below the median for private doctoral universities in its ratio of female to male faculty salaries at the ranks of Professor and Assistant Professor, according to the latest AAUP salary survey.

Continued vigilance is essential. The university should continue to track closely benchmarks including the following (by gender, ethnicity, tenure status, rank, and discipline): representation: on the faculty, and in specific types of leadership positions; rates and patterns of hiring, attrition, tenure, and promotion; and average salaries as well as non-salary compensation. We urge that a standard set of benchmark data be shared with the BU community on an annual basis.