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$500,000 STEM grant to fund 2 professorships for female faculty

<p>One of Provost Sally Kornbluth's goals as Duke's chief academic officer is to increase the number of female faculty in STEM fields.</p>

One of Provost Sally Kornbluth's goals as Duke's chief academic officer is to increase the number of female faculty in STEM fields.

A new five-year, $500,000 grant to support two professorships for female faculty will further the University’s goal of attracting women to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The grant, which was announced last week, comes from the Henry Luce Foundation’s Clare Boothe Luce Program and will fund two professorships for new female faculty in the computer science and electrical and computer engineering departments at Duke. The University has committed to spending another $2.5 million to fully fund both positions.

Female undergraduates currently comprise 30.9 percent of students in the Pratt School of Engineering, and 14.4 percent of tenured and tenure-track faculty in Pratt are women, wrote George Truskey, Pratt’s interim dean, in an email. Some STEM departments within the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences have reported a similar gender gap—only 20 percent of computer science majors, for example, are women, according to a September 2014 article in The Chronicle.

“University leadership, faculty and staff are deeply engaged in making Duke an even more inclusive and attractive institution for women in STEM, so receiving a Clare Boothe Luce professorship award is very exciting,” Provost Sally Kornbluth said in a Duke Today release. “The award will enable Duke to hire sought-after female candidates who will, in turn, inspire more women students to pursue careers in the sciences.”

The grant builds on a previous Clare Boothe Luce grant that funded fellowships for three female graduate students at Pratt from 2006 until 2008. The CBL program, which began giving grants in 1989, has supported more than 1,900 women in STEM fields nationwide.

Truskey said in the release that the new professors “will be welcomed into an environment at Duke where women are valued and supported as academics and students, and are visible and active as leaders.”

He noted that junior faculty face “immense pressure” early in their careers, and that Pratt is committed to creating a culture that supports the career development of all faculty, with an emphasis on women and minorities.

The grant comes midway through Kornbluth’s second year as Duke’s chief academic officer, following her eight-year tenure as the vice dean for basic science at the School of Medicine.

Kornbluth, who is Duke’s first female provost, told The Chronicle in August that one of her goals for the year is to initiate a “quantitative sciences push,” which she hopes will include increasing the connection between the School of Medicine and the University’s other academic programs. She said discussions were underway with Dr. A. Eugene Washington, chancellor for health affairs and president and CEO of Duke University Health System, “to bridge from the campus to the medical side.”

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