Emily Polander, Becky Riffle, and Sarah Jackson are all graduate students in the Human Factors and Industrial/Organizational Psychology PhD program. The three have been doing shared research with a National Science Foundation (NSF) ADVANCE Program grant on the LEADER Consortium. The LEADER Consortium seeks to promote the recruitment, advancement, and retention of tenure-track women faculty in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The LEADER Consortium involves four institutions: Wright State University, the University of Dayton, Central University, and the Air Force Institute of Technology.
The three have already accomplished a great deal in their graduate student careers. Emily assisted her advisor in conducting one-on-one faculty interviews that allowed the research team to develop a faculty climate survey that teaching staff from all four institutions of the LEADER Consortium participated in. The three then presented their findings in a paper which Becky was the lead on, at the 2011 Midwest Psychology Association conference in San Antonio, TX. Emily’s Master’s thesis was developed using the climate survey data by examining the effects of perceived and actual similarity in faculty-to-faculty career mentoring. She defended in July 2010, and is now working on the qualifying exam to go onto the PhD section of the program. Emily also conducted a lab study, referred to as the persuasion studies, which used undergraduates and sought to understand the effect of written messages on changing attitudes and behaviors towards women STEM faculty. She was assisted in this experiment by both Becky and Sarah. Today Emily is no longer working on the grant, and instead is one of the academic advisors for undergraduate students in the Psychology department.
In the persuasion studies, Emily measured participant’s attitudes to see whether they were physiologically and/or cognitively threatened or challenged by the idea of gender discrimination in STEM. Becky did the other half of the experiment by looking at participant’s implicit attitudes using a computerized IAT, or Implicit Association Test. Her thesis, which she will defend next month in June, focuses on the control group. She is also conducting other research but is unable to discuss it at this time.
Sarah was a teaching assistant (TA) from the fall of 2009 until the summer of 2010, and she will begin working as a TA again this June. She is also in charge of updating the NSF LEADER Consortium website. Along with Emily, she also helps with the NSF LEADER Consortium’s Mentoring and Coaching programs by preparing welcome packets for participants in the Functional Mentoring Network. In her research, Sarah, like Becky, worked on implicit attitudes but she used a paper-based test called a GNAT, or Go/No-go Association Test. She administered the GNAT to workshop participants from all four institutions to uncover unconscious biases men and women hold towards women STEM faculty.
In addition to all of the above, the three helped out at several writing workshops last summer by evaluating feedback from surveys critiquing the workshops. They have also generated several reports, three poster presentations, and potentially three manuscripts. Their area of research is particularly important since it focuses on the advancement of women in male-dominated fields. Keep up the hard work, ladies!