PROGRESS Moves Forward
As the PROGRESS Project--Partnerships, Reflection, Openness, Grants, Resources, Education, Site Visits, and Successes--reaches the halfway mark of its three-year term, there are many accomplishments to cheer about.
PROGRESS is an ACS pilot project introduced in 2002 with a budget of $200,000 to test, develop, and evaluate programs that promote the full participation and advancement of women chemists and chemical engineers. The PROGRESS steering committee has tested and implemented five programs that support the project's themes, with two more programs currently in development.
Former ACS president Helen M. Free, the steering committee chair, says the programs were developed with the goal that they would eventually be integrated as part of the permanent programs and services offered by ACS.
"The whole idea is to try them out for the project's three-year run," Free says. "Then if they prove successful, the programs will be built into the structure as regular operating programs. We have hit on such a variety of possibilities that there will be room for all of them. When we seek external grants, we look for how well the programs fit with the mission of funding agencies and enlist the foundations as partners with ACS to keep the programs viable."
The PROGRESS website is among the first five programs. Launched on Chemistry.org in February, it contains pertinent career development information and other programs and opportunities available through ACS, sister societies, and other women's organizations. The site is located at http://chemistry.org/progress.
In 2002, 65 public and private Ph.D.-granting institutions were invited to apply for the "Be Visible: Funding Speaker Opportunities" program. This program provides funding to chemistry and chemical engineering departments so they can invite women guest speakers to present their research to students and faculty. Ten institutions received funding of up to $1,500 to invite women guest speakers in 2002. Feedback from the institutions confirmed that the program influenced the number of women speakers invited to these campuses. The program will continue in 2003 and will fund up to 12 institutions.
Forty-five applications were submitted for the GROW (Grants for Renewal Opportunities for Women) program. Twelve grants were awarded to cover costs up to $2,000 for one training course (to be completed by Dec. 31), travel, and child care.
"These grants are targeted to women who are in their first jobs and those who are making midcareer changes," Free says. "They afford women the opportunity to pursue their own professional development plans, as well as to increase their confidence and their eligibility for new career opportunities." The steering committee plans to continue the GROW program in 2004.
The Academic Awareness/Site Visits program was developed to help create a more favorable climate for women, and ultimately all faculty, in academia. On-site visits to seven institutions included interviews with faculty, administrators, graduate students, and postdocs to identify best practices. The data from these visits are currently being analyzed to improve the process and outcomes for the next phase of the program.
The steering committee established the Thriving in the Workplace program to disseminate data and information to help women increase the probability of success at work. Its first article, on mentoring, has already appeared in Today's Chemist At Work (March, page 41), and six more articles are planned for publication. PROGRESS is also taking its message on the road: A presentation to be used at ACS regional meetings will be ready to go beginning this fall.
One of the programs in development is an ACS course on business and leadership skills for women in the chemical workforce. This program will help women develop nontechnical and executive management skills. The steering committee plans to offer this course as an online course that women can complete at their own pace.
The second program in development is to identify and recognize companies that have programs in place to support the advancement of women. At the ACS fall national meeting in New York City, focus groups will discuss what such a program would look like. One focus group will be held as part of the Women Chemists Committee industry breakfast, where some of the discussions will be about corporate recognition. Another discussion will involve members of Corporation Associates.
Free is delighted with PROGRESS's advancement. "We have seven visionary women on the steering committee, and we'll have an impact on the 'progress' of women chemists," she says.
For more details, contact Felicia F. Dixon, PROGRESS program manager, at (202) 872-6334 or e-mail email@example.com.