Montana State University

Archived Spotlight story

University of Montana Project PACE

The University of Montana’s Partnership for Comprehensive Equity (PACE) opened shop in September, 2003, with an Institutional Transformation grant from the NSF ADVANCE Program. The ADVANCE program, with its goal of increasing “the representation and advancement of women in academic science and engineering careers”, began in response to growing awareness in the scientific community of the disproportionate representation of talented women scientists at different levels of the academic hierarchy. To date, twenty-six ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grants have been awarded to study the causes of this gender imbalance and devise strategies to address it.

Project PACE is founded in an alliance of administrators, deans, department heads, and faculty who share concern about gender-based inequity and recognize the need for change. We feel, to a large extent, the exclusion or delayed advancement of talented women scientists in academe is due to the unconscious and unintended accumulation of gender-based disadvantages. We are drawn together in a commitment to identify these disadvantages, and to recognize and address the underlying issues.

Project PACE is built of the following components: Policy, Recruitment, Retention, Assessment, and Outreach. The Policy component, through the Campus-Wide Policy Committee, examines UM policy in light of the PACE goals. This committee addresses university policy on such issues as on-site daycare options, parental leave, dual career options, and tenure clock adjustment. In addition, the Policy component assists in individual science departments’ evaluations and gender diversity plans.

The Recruitment component gathers information on successful recruiting strategies; provides resources, advice, and training to search committees and department heads; and meets with candidates. Retention efforts are largely focused in the Mentoring Program for Women in Science, which includes a formal mentoring program, training for faculty and administrators, a mentor database, and Women in Science lunches. In addition, PACE supported visits from outside speakers to UM through the 2003-04 ‘Women in Academe’ lecture series.

On November 19, 2004, Virginia Valian, internationally known cognitive scientist and specialist on gender equity in science leadership, will visit UM, presenting to UM community and the general public.

PACE’s Assessment component has two parts, external and internal. External evaluation is conducted by the Center for Evaluation through University of Western Michigan. Internal evaluation, in addition to assessing our status quo and our progress, conducts studies of gender issues at UM, such as why women candidates decline or accept job offers, and why women scientists remain or leave UM. The Outreach component involves networking with women tribal scientists, forming a liaison with MSU (contact: Cathy Zabinski,, creating a directory of Montana women scientists, maintaining a website, and hosting Annual Workshops for Montana women scientists.

Our goals are global. Though individual ADVANCE programs differ in structure and approach, we continually share insights, strategies, and solutions, in order to generate useful models for change. We believe the entire scientific enterprise will be enhanced and strengthened through full inclusion of the talents and gifts of women scientists.

For more information on Project PACE,


UM PACE 2005
ANNUAL WORKSHOP for Montana Women in Science
August 12-14, 2005
Boulder Hot Springs Hotel
"Quality through Diversity"
Workshop information below


To: All Montana women science faculty

UM PACE 2005
ANNUAL WORKSHOP for Montana Women in Science
August 12-14, ’05, at Boulder Hot Springs Hotel

UM PACE is an NSF-funded program, designed to

“Increase the participation of women in the scientific and engineering workforce through the increased representation and advancement of women in academic science and engineering careers.”

Among our strategies are: increasing numbers of women faculty through recruitment of high quality women candidates, doing careful and thorough assessment of the conditions and climate for Montana women academics, supporting policy changes which will make UM a more equitable and ‘family friendly’ place, establishing a high quality mentoring program, and reaching out to build a strong community of women scientists here in Montana.

To address this last goal, UM PACE will be hosting Annual Workshops, beginning in summer, 2005, designed to attract women science faculty from universities and colleges in Montana.

Each three-day workshop will
• be held in an attractive, isolated location so participants can interact with one another and focus on the workshop without distraction
• feature well-known keynote speakers, presenters, and trainers
• focus on training specifically designed for academic women
• include panel discussions, followed by break-out work groups focused on
o defining challenges facing women faculty at different career levels
o developing strategies for meeting these challenges
o preparing individual action plans

The PACE 2005 Annual Workshop will include Leadership training by Project Kaleidoscope.

All participant expenses will be paid by PACE.

We hope you will join us in our first workshop, August 12-14, ’05. We believe a strong, supportive network of Montana’s women scientists will be valuable to all individuals involved, and to the entire scientific community.

To sign up, contact Project PACE,, or call (406) 243-PACE (7223).