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Last Updated: November 2020

WOWS has been an active part of UNC since it was established in 2007. There is a new interval of WOWS scholars enacted every two years, which has enabled many female faculty members to share their unique perspectives on women in science and address certain issues regarding the topic. The previous initiatives that WOWS has focused on are listed below. The mission of the current WOWS scholars can be found here.

The 2017-2019 WOWS Scholars, Anna Bardone-Cone and Lillie Searles, took significant, impactful strides toward promoting discussion on the topic of women in science and issues pertaining to it whilst making progress toward gender equity. They hosted several panels within the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience to explore many topics pertaining to women in the STEM field; this included discussion on leadership, financial disparities, parenting in academia, and power dynamics. They also hosted a couple of dinners where junior female faculty members within STEM were able to connect to one another as well as senior faculty members and discuss commonalities between various scientific disciplines. Through their efforts, they raised awareness of gender inequity in STEM, forged a bond between female faculty members across various departments, and nurtured mentoring bonds for junior and senior faculty.

Former WOWS Scholars Deborah J. Jones and Maria R. Servedio took large strides to advance women’s mentorship and leadership in STEM. They facilitated and fostered the cross-department connection of senior female mentors with junior mentees through coffee and lunch meets; this provided guidance to younger women in the science and math disciplines, which supported their professional progress. They also invited Dr. Ileana Arias from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to discuss her personal and professional trajectory as a female scientist in both academics and as Principal Deputy Director of the CDC.

The 2013-2015 WOWS Scholars, Jaye Cable and Donna Surge, led many impactful projects to further the initiative’s mission of increasing women’s roles and progress within the STEM fields. They hosted several prominent, diverse scholars in science-related disciplines and, most notably, reinitiated the ADVANCE grant proposal writing process for the National Science Foundation. The submitted proposal suggested a plan for furthering the diversity and innovation in STEM, and was later revised and refocused on equity and faculty mentoring. Through their diligent efforts, it was eventually funded in 2018 and, in particular, promoted the success of women of color and various other underrepresented groups within the scientific disciplines.

The 2011-2013 WOWS Scholars, Regina Carelli and Marcey Waters, made many positive changes through the initiative, the most significant of which was the provision of the “target of opportunity.” They teamed up with Dean Gil to facilitate the recruitment and hiring of women in departments with less than 25% tenure track faculty, which resulted in several hires. They also held two seminars, one with a prominent female scientist, Linda Birnbaum of the NIEHS, and one with panel discussions about various issues of women in science. Similarly, they hosted two lunches for female faculty members within the sciences to get their input on the endeavors of WOWS. Overall, they made important advancements for women in science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and improved their representation and success in STEM fields.

The 2009-2011 WOWS Scholars, Ann G. Matthysse and Ming Lin, surveyed UNC’s female faculty within the science departments to determine what they believed to be the biggest issue that needed to be addressed. Nearly all women under the age of 45 answered that the lack of accessible child care was detrimental and something they were critically in need of. In accordance to this result, the scholars established this need of child care as their focus and took many actions to improve the situation; there was even the possibility of a daycare center being built in the genome sciences building, though this unfortunately fell through. Despite their best efforts, the need for child care remains a concern for many UNC faculty members.

Jane Hawkins and Laurie McNeil, the first WOWS scholars, spearheaded the initiative when it was first formed and made efforts to promote its cause. They brought the first bias workshop to UNC-CH’s campus, sponsored Women’s Leadership Day, provided the funds for influential, science-based women to speak on campus, and founded the first campus-wide summit on women in science. Their main focus was on implicit bias in faculty hiring, and they formed the initiative to educate search committees. They created a presentation about the research on implicit bias and the best practices for search committees to utilize, presented it to each of the science departments, and led discussion regarding its implications. Some of the slides from their presentation were incorporated into the College of Arts and Sciences’ training for all search committees, evidence of their initiative’s lasting impact.