Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Garland and Alestalo: Transforming Workplace Culture

As part of the requirements for FOR496/797, students share responsibility of reporting the Women in Scientific and Environmental Professions Speaker Series. This was prepared by Brianna Reed
                Dr. Marie Garland, Executive Director for the NSF-ADVANCE initiative and Ms. Sharon W. Alestalo, Program Manager for SU ADVANCE and WISE, presented their experience on Advance: Transforming Workplace Culture at ESF on Tuesday, February 7, 2012 as part of SUNY-ESF’s Women in the Scientific and Environmental Professions Spring Seminar Series.
                Dr. Garland discussed recent headlines from news articles that focused on the need for more women to enter careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields.  There are many theories as to why women have not gained gender equality in the STEM fields such as institutional barriers and common stereotypes.  She used graphs to show the fact that women consistently choose not to develop careers in engineering, mathematics and computer sciences, although these amounts have been gradually increasing.
                Sharon Alestalo discussed the NSF-ADVANCE program that went into effect one year ago at Syracuse University.  This a program funded to ensure women have a greater presence in STEM fields in the university.  She presented the current statistics of the lack of women faculty in departments such as physics and mathematics and showed that our values are low in comparison to national figures.  Alestalo discussed the four main parts of the plan: Recruitment, Connect, Extend and Transform.  Within these tactics, women will be connected with mentors, have access to workshops and the males in each department will also be engaged in the discussions and programs.
                Alestalo and Garland defined the success of the NSF-ADVANCE program to be flexible and dependent on each department.  An external evaluator has been asked to oversee the progress of the program.  Both Alestalo and Garland are excited to be a part of the program and have high expectations that it will result in a large achievement for the university culture. 
Dr. Garland received her education at the University of New Hampshire and Ohio State University.  She has previously been a professor at Ithaca College and was the Director of Faculty and Staff Diversity at Cornell University.  Sharon Alestalo received her education at Chapman College and University of Albany.  She has been the Executive Director at Girls Incorporated of CNY, Director of Student Enrollment at OCC, Program manager of the federal Health and Human Services Project at SU.

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