NJIT proposes an innovative, exportable, and low-cost solution to this conundrum of small numbers. The strategy builds on social science researchers observation that women researchers often respond to a chilly university climate by creating an empowering environment in their own labs - that is, they achieve in microcosm what they are not able to achieve in macrocosm: functional critical mass. Functional critical mass changes more than the number: it generates strategic power for sustainable cultural change.
This NJIT project tests this concept by facilitating a network of interdisciplinary research collaborations among current NJIT women faculty and select junior and senior male peers. The project jump-starts this process by seeding a collaboration in Geospatial Technologies -- an area that has applications to many disciplines, including Homeland Security and Emergency Response Management -and plans to use it as a template to create other nodes. By positioning these research micro-communities in the interstices between disciplinary departments--the structural holes in the NJIT organizational map - the project exploits what some sociologists have called the strength of weak ties-- that is, information and control advantages of being a broker in relations between people otherwise disconnected in the social structure.
The project also creates an ongoing Conversations About Collaboration Seminar to serve several purposes: 1) provide a high-status venue for the members of the template collaboratory to present their research and to talk about the advantages of interdisciplinary collaboration; 2) to provide opportunities for women faculty (especially junior faculty) to network with a select cadre of junior and senior peers, both female and male; 3) to offer incentives (in the form of small travel grants) for new collaborative work to women faculty and their chosen research partners; 4) to facilitate privileged information flow to women faculty and their chosen research partners about new research agendas in industry and government; and 5) to match junior women faculty with institutionally savvy mentors in senior faculty and administrative ranks, under the proactive leadership of NJITs provost, who has a strong record of supporting women and supporting interdisciplinary in research. The Collaboration Seminar is co-hosted by NJITs new Industrial Diversity Advisory Board, composed of senior executives in business and industry -- a link that further increases the social capital of the participants. In addition to acting as a venue for the dissemination of research data, the Seminar also provides best practices training in the process of collaboration itself, including cross-gender and cross-cultural communication skills and greater sensitivity to gender schema.
|Effective start/end date||9/1/06 → 8/31/10|
- National Science Foundation: $778,198.00