Note: Thank you for your interest in ADVANCE Project TRACS, our NSF funded Institutional Transformational Grant which ended August 31, 2017. The pages that follow are historical documents for informational purposes only.

Cultural Attuenment Initiative Leads

Former Team Leads: Ian Handley, Carolyn Plumb, and Diane Letendre


ADVANCE promoted respectful communication, sensitivity to the dynamics of relationships within a culture, and respect for the values and beliefs of cultures. The project team employed the active and vigilant practice of maintaining cultural humility, active attention and ongoing mindfulness, to implement many programs, including diversity depth hires, an equity search toolkit and equity advocate program, and engaged the MSU community in unconscious bias education.

Click here to view Cultural Attunement Resource List

Visit the following link if you'd like to access or analyze MSU faculty data (by rank, gender, and department)

Interested in enhancing cultural attunement at your institution?


ADVANCE Project TRACS improved gender equity for women faculty in science, technology, engineering, math (STEM), and social and behavioral sciences (SBS) at MSU. Women are now hired at parity with men, are actualizing their research potential, and have more options to better integrate work-life demands. Longitudinal data shows that involvement with ADVANCE Project TRACS significantly improved all faculty members' feelings of job satisfaction over time, no matter their gender or field of study (Smith, Handley et al., see Figure 1). ADVANCE catalyzed MSU into a more inclusive, equitable, and diverse university for faculty.

Figure 1: The Indirect Effect of Involvement with Project TRACS on Positive Changes in Job Satisfaction among Faculty Over Time.

Job Satisfaction

During the five years of ADVANCE Project TRACS, MSU saw a 67% increase in the number of women faculty hires in STEM/SBS (see Table 1). All told, 48.6% of MSU tenure track hires in STEM/SBS were women, up from 25% over the five preceding years. MSU went from 60 women faculty in STEM/SBS at the start of ADVANCE to 100 women at the end of ADVANCE (see Figure 2 and Table 2).

Table 1: Tenure-Track Faculty Hires at Montana State University over 10 years.

Tenure-track faculty at MSU over 10 years

Figure 2: 8-Year Change in % Women Tenurable Faculty at MSU

8-Year Change in % Women Tenurable Faculty at MSU

The Project TRACS Broadening the Search Process was largely responsible for the improvement in faculty hiring as evidenced by a randomized and controlled trial test of our three-step faculty search intervention based in self-determination theory. Results were published in the peer-reviewed journal Bioscience (Smith et al., 2015) and featured in several national media outlets. The data show that the numbers of women candidates considered for and offered tenure-track positions were significantly higher in the intervention groups compared with those in controls. Searches in the intervention were 6.3 times more likely to make an offer to a woman candidate, and women who were made an offer were 5.8 times more likely to accept the offer from an intervention search. Project TRACS also led the training of 37 people from 29 departments/units who served as Equity Advocates and organized 52 educational workshops and lectures on gender bias, inclusion, and diversity.

Table 2: Change in Tenured/Tenure-Track Women at Montana State University

Change in Tenured/Tenure-Track Women at Montana State University

Smith, J. L., Handley, I. M., Zale, A. V., Rushing, S. A., & Potvin, M. (2015). Now Hiring! Empirically Testing a 3-Step Intervention to Increase Faculty Gender Diversity in STEM. BioScience, 65(11), 1084-1087. doi:10.1093/biosci/biv138.

 Smith, J. L., Handley, I. M., Rushing, S. A., Belou, R., Shanahan, E.A., Skewes, M. C., Kambich, L., Honea, J., Intemann, K. (2017). Added Benefits: How Supporting Women Faculty in STEM Improves Everyone's Job SatisfactionJournal of Diversity in Higher Education.