Montana State University

MSU research featured on Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls blog

October 22, 2015 -- MSU News Service

A hiring method researchers at Montana State University devised to significantly increase gender diversity in science, technology, engineering and math faculty was featured this week on Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls blog.

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BOZEMAN – A hiring method researchers at Montana State University devised to significantly increase gender diversity in science, technology, engineering and math faculty was featured this week on Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls blog.

Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls was founded by artist and comedian Amy Poehler and producer Meredith Walker. The organization is “dedicated to helping young people cultivate their authentic selves” and “emphasizes intelligence and imagination over ‘fitting in.’” Poehler, who has starred in the television shows “Saturday Night Live” and “Parks and Rec,” as well as in movies such as “Blades of Glory” and “Sisters,” was named Glamour magazine’s Woman of the Year for her efforts to empower women and girls everywhere. 

More than 1.1 million people follow the Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls page on Facebook.

In an Oct. 20 post, “The Future is Bright for Montana Women Looking for Stem Careers,” reporter Micah Nielsen notes that STEM careers in science, technology, engineering and math are dominated by men. However, Montana is “paving the way towards a more equitable future in STEM careers that is going to make a huge difference for girls across the state,” Nielsen wrote.

As evidence, the post pointed to a new hiring standard that was developed by MSU psychology professor Jessi Smith. The standard “drastically increases the rate of female hires in STEM departments” at MSU, Nielsen noted, and women who applied for jobs that were a part of a study by Smith were 22 percent more likely to be interviewed and 56 percent more likely to receive an offer of employment. 

A paper on the approach, written by Smith and the four other members of MSU faculty and administration who serve as co-directors of ADVANCE Project TRACS, was recently published in the journal BioScience, the journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences. The Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls post is just one of several national media outlets to pick up on the BioScience article. Others include Pacific Standard magazine and the website Fast Company.

“Even the most seasoned faculty member can learn something from our training,” Smith said in a previous interview with the MSU News Service. “And now, three years post-intervention, I think faculty are seeing the real value of a diverse department. Everyone wins: students gain new role models, faculty have people who can offer diverse ways of thinking about a research question, you name it - the department can thrive.”

The trends highlighted in the ADVANCE Project TRACS study bode well for the future of female STEM graduates at MSU, Nielsen wrote in her Smart Girls blog post.  

“Diversity within STEM is essential for creating a thriving workplace and a learning environment replete with role models, diverse ways of thinking, and enhanced learning that elevates excellence and benefits scientific innovation, public health, and economic growth,” Nielsen wrote.

Nielsen also noted that Smith’s extensive work “proves that leadership diversity creates an environment where female students are likely to thrive.”

Contact: Jessi Smith, (406) 994-5228 or jsismith@montana.edu.