Leveraging Privilege: Advocates, Allies, & Gender Equity in Universities

The second Open Forum was held on 14 December at 15:00 CET, with a presentation on leveraging privilege: advocates, allies, & gender equity in universities by Allison S. Danell, Stephanie M. George, Andrew T. Morehead & Kristen Myers from the THRIVE project at East Carolina University. Watch their presentation below or read about the important lessons that were brought up in the discussion after the presentation.

Leveraging Privilege: Advocates, Allies, & Gender Equity in Universities

When: 14 December 15-16:30 CET
Where: Online
Speakers: Allison S. Danell, Stephanie M. George, Andrew T. Morehead, Jr., Kristen Myers from the THRIVE @East Carolina University project

For faculty doing gender equity work on university campuses, there are many persistent challenges to changing structure, practices, and culture. Once inequities are made visible, people with more privilege and authority may feel attacked or ostracized, withdrawing from important conversations and strategic planning that may rectify inequities. It is crucial to find ways to “call in” rather than only “call out” the privileged faculty and campus leaders—who are typically white men with status and seniority—as team members, so that their privileges and gatekeeping powers are harnessed to generate transformative change. As part of our grant from the National Science Foundation ADVANCE program, the THRIVE @East Carolina University project has implemented a plan to create a cohort of influential white male faculty who serve as gender equity “Advocates and Allies.” THRIVE stands for Towards Hiring, Resources, Inclusion, Value, and Excellence. In this presentation, we reflect on the effectiveness of Advocates and Allies to meet key goals of THRIVE, focusing specifically in resources, inclusion and value. We explore the successes and challenges of this program based on data analysis. We ask critical questions like, Is an optional voluntary program of male leaders enough to affect change? What infrastructure is necessary to make this program as effective as it could be? Our analysis includes insights from the Advocates & Allies themselves, as well focus group interview data with women faculty who seek change. We propose strategies for sustainable transformation that benefits the most marginalized faculty.

About the speakers

Allison S. Danell is a professor of chemistry and, since 2020, is also dean of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences at East Carolina University (ECU). She is an award-winning professor and advisor focused on student success through consistent classroom engagement, encouraging inquiry and curiosity, and facilitating research, internship, and other professional development activities. As dean of the largest college on ECU’s campus, Danell is excited to support and promote the education, research, creativity, and workforce development opportunities afforded by the arts and sciences. She boldly acts to create partnerships with internal and external constituents to develop culturally aware communicators and skilled leaders to foster intellectual and economic success of the college, university, and region. Allison S. Danell received her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2001. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Rowland Institute at Harvard University in 2004, before joining ECU’s faculty that same year.

Stephanie M. George is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering at East Carolina University (ECU). She has been recognized for her achievements in integrating research, education and equity. She received ECU’s 2017 Scholar-Teacher Award and was selected to participated in the Diversity and Equity Leadership Program (ECU), BRIDGES Academic Leadership for Women (UNC System), and the BB&T Active Learning and Leadership Fellowship program (ECU). In 2008, Stephanie M. George received her PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Georgia Tech and Emory University. After completing a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Georgia Tech and Emory University, she joined the faculty of ECU in 2010. Dr. George is currently on loan to the National Science Foundation (NSF) as the Program Director for the Engineering of Biomedical Systems (EBMS) program within the Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems Division (CBET).

Andrew T. Morehead, Jr. is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry at East Carolina University (ECU). An award winning teacher and a former Chair of the Faculty at ECU, he is passionate about leadership development and mentoring. During his time as Chair, the department’s external research expenditures have increased over an order of magnitude and he has successfully guided three Assistant Professors and seven Associate Professors through the tenure/promotion process. Andrew T. Morehead has served as Lead Advocate for the “Allies and Advocates” group at ECU since its inception. He received his PhD in Chemistry from Duke University in 1996, and following a two year National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellowship at the California Institute of Technology began his academic career at the University of Maryland-College Park.

Kristen Myers is Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology at East Carolina University. She has a Certificate in Women’s Studies from Duke University. Myers served on the faculty of Northern Illinois University for 23 years, where she was a Distinguished Presidential Professor in Sociology and the Director of the Center of Women, Gender & Sexuality, which she helped to create. Her research focuses on social inequalities in various contexts. She has studied private “racetalk,” the hypersexualization of primary school children, challenges to diversifying the STEM pipeline, sexual assault on college campuses, among other social problems in society. Myers became Chair of the department of Sociology at East Carolina University in 2019. She is a Deputy Editor of the academic journal, Gender & Society, and a co-PI on the THRIVE@ECU grant. Kristen Myers received her PhD in Sociology in 1996 from North Carolina University.


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