In 2018 the ADVANCE program at the University of Delaware (UD) collaborated with UD's Business College to hold a multi-day leadership program for mid-career women faculty at UD. Unlike other leadership programs that assemble women from across the country, the UD ADVANCE Women’s Leadership Program was designed specifically for UD women with cohort-building and peer mentorship in mind. After an application process, 18 women were selected as the first UD ADVANCE Women’s Leadership cohort. The cohort represented all of UD’s colleges, with the majority being from STEM departments. Close to a third of the participants were from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups. UD ADVANCE covered program registration, hotel, and meals costs for all participants.
The program consisted of two sessions. The first was an overnight in a desirable retreat location where participants built community, networked, and learned new skills, e.g, leadership vision, having difficult conversations, and using social media to gain professional visibility. Participants then completed individual assignments before reconvening a month later for the second session, where they learned more skills and heard from a panel of women leaders from UD.
Assessment data of the program were overwhelmingly positive. For example, despite the large time commitment required of participants, 100% agreed that the program encouraged meaningful collaboration with colleagues and was worth their time. Based on feedback from participants and demand from faculty unable to participate the first time, the UD ADVANCE leadership team is investigating how the program might be institutionalized and offered regularly to UD faculty.
This paper draws from institutional data and the broader literature to discuss why we chose an in-house workshop. Aiming to provide a model usable by other institutions, it describes the program, evaluation results, and outcomes, drawing attention to benefits and challenges.
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