University introduces Diversity Mentor Professor Initiative

By Ashley Garcia for FIU

The STEM fields have traditionally been male-dominated. Additionally, there is generally a low representation of minority faculty in the fields.

As a result, many of the roughly 600 minority female students on average over the last five years who graduated each year with a bachelor’s degree in a STEM field may not ever have been taught by a woman or minority STEM professor during their time at FIU.

FIU’s Diversity Mentor Professor Initiative is a special program aimed at recruiting multiple excellent STEM faculty with strong research programs to FIU who have a history of and commitment to the mentorship of women and underrepresented minority students in STEM, particularly Hispanic-American and African-American students.

Research has shown that having a female role model has a powerful positive effect on women’s performance in math and science classes. For this reason, Suzanna Rose — associate provost, Office to Advance Women, Equity & Diversity (AWED) — convinced Provost and Executive Vice President Kenneth G. Furton to fund FIU’s Diversity Mentor Professor Initiative and led the recruitment effort. The initiative is modeled on a successful program created by Victoria Sork, dean of Life Sciences Division in the University of California, Los Angeles College of Letters and Science. Michael Heithaus, dean of the College of Arts, Sciences & Education, and John Volakis, dean of Engineering and Computing, together with the provost — committed four faculty lines to AWED for the program.

To learn more, read "FIU launches diversity mentor professorships in STEM."