UW News

January 12, 2017

LATTICE connects women engineers in early academic careers with peers, support

LATTICE logoA new national program — LATTICE — sponsored by the University of Washington, North Carolina State University and California Polytechnic State University aims to diversify the national engineering faculty population by building supportive communities during the critical transition from graduate studies to permanent tenure-track positions.

LATTICE stands for Launching Academics on the Tenure-Track: An Intentional Community in Engineering. True to its name, the program focuses on forging connections and offering support to early-career women and underrepresented minority women in engineering who are interested in faculty careers.

LATTICE participants will gain a stronger sense of career self-efficacy and sense of belonging through a combination of symposia, networks and other support structures over a two-year-period.

The first symposium — to be held in Bainbridge Island, Washington, on May 18-21 — will focus on post-Ph.D., early-career women in electrical engineering and computer science, including postdoctoral researchers, assistant professors, assistant research professors and other pre-tenure level science positions. The deadline to apply for the first cohort is Jan. 16.

A second symposium to be held in 2019 will target women in all fields of engineering who are also members of racial or ethnic minorities or persons with disabilities. Each four-day retreat-like symposium will focus on early academic career skills such as teaching, proposal writing and funding, and tenure proposals – as well as offer time for self-reflection and discussions about identity and the academy.

In both cases, senior engineers and faculty will be available for mentoring and networking opportunities, as well as conversations about developing successful careers.

“LATTICE provides junior women support to become proactive and strategic about their careers,” said co-principal investigator Eve Riskin, associate dean of diversity and access for the UW College of Engineering and faculty director for the ADVANCE Center for Institutional Change. “I was hired in electrical engineering at the UW in 1990 and would have loved to have had such a program.”

The LATTICE communities forged at the national symposiums will be extended through peer mentoring circles and online connections. The circles are designed to offer frequent and safe forums to discuss concerns, receive constructive feedback and group wisdom, and set realistic personal goals. Discussions may include topics such as time management, navigating institutional culture, stress and conflict, writing and productivity, and self care.

Funded by a five-year National Science Foundation grant, LATTICE combines these professional development interventions with an ethnographic research study to understand which components are most effective. The project hopes to identify successful strategies and develop a replicable “recipe” for success for change agents looking to broaden participation in STEM fields.

For more information, contact lattice@uw.edu.