Auburn University professor aims to increase the number of female faculty in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) discipline.
Toni Alexander, associate professor of cultural geography, hopes to use her research as a way to achieve that goal. Her research methods have included studies such as qualitative surveys and interviews. The research was conducted at Auburn University as well as other universities.
"One of the groups that I would like to see brought more into Auburn family is female faculty in the STEM discipline," Alexander said. "I would like it to be a place where people not only want to come, but stay and have a career path here."
Alexander's goal is to see more women in higher level positions. She believes that having women in these positions would help keep female faculty intact as well provide role models for the female students.
She is currently working with other scholars across campus to obtain a multi-million dollar Institutional Transformation Grant to achieve her goals. The grant would be used to make changes at the university.
In the past, Alexander has also conducted research to increase student enrollment in the STEM discipline. COSAM at Auburn University is over 50 percent female, but a large number of female students are represented in select majors such as Biology.
To create awareness about other majors, she worked on a week-long summer program called L.I.F.E. in Science (Leadership Institute for Females Exceptional in Science) for recruiting female students in high school across the state. She received the Outreach Scholarship Grant from Auburn University to conduct this program. The program taught the students about the majors involved in STEM. The students visited women in the STEM discipline to show the various types of jobs available to them. The program followed-up with the students for a year after the program.
Alexander hopes that her research will change the atmosphere of the STEM discipline.