Research shows the associate professor rut, where faculty linger at a mid-rank position for years and sometimes indefinitely, is not only very real but also disproportionally affects women, particularly in STEM fields.

The National Science Foundation reports that women comprise only 21 percent of full professors in science fields and 5 percent of full professors in engineering despite earning about half the doctorates in science and engineering in the nation.

Masha Maria Gartstein.

Maria Gartstein was nevertheless able to beat the trend. She is now a full professor in the WSU Department of Psychology and her research on infant development is being featured in an upcoming Netflix documentary.

She said one of the keys to her success was participating in the WSU External Mentor Program, an experience so worthwhile she’s building on its approach with the help of a new $1.2 million NSF grant supporting education leadership development for women in STEM.

The External Mentor Program connects WSU female faculty members with off-campus academic leaders. It was created with support from the NSF in 2008 as part of WSU ADVANCE, an initiative designed to promote institutional transformation, increasing diversity in the highest ranks of STEM at WSU.

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