Female ASU faculty share challenges, triumphs and what gives them hope about the future of women in academia


March 11, 2021

Bold. Inspirational. Fearless.

These are just a few of the words that female faculty in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences use to describe women in higher education careers. In celebration of Women’s History Month, nine female faculty from The College shared challenges they have faced, triumphs they have experienced and what gives them hope about the future of women in academia. (Top, left to right): Victoria Jackson, Esther Florsheim, Nina Berman, Sara Brownell and Hue-Tam Jamme. (Bottom, left to right): Sujey Vega, Pardis Mahdavi, Mako Fitts Ward and Michelle McGibbney Vlahoulis. Download Full Image

At Arizona State University, female faculty make up almost half of the overall faculty population: As of fall 2018, 48% of faculty were women. In The College, 46% of faculty were women as of 2018–19. Year over year, these percentages have continued to increase, with similar trends seen at universities nationwide.

“As more women enter more spaces in academia, especially positions of leadership, I'm hopeful that there are more voices and more perspectives to create meaningful structural change that uplifts women to excel in whatever we choose to study and research,” said Mako Fitts Ward, assistant professor in the School of Social Transformation.

Although representation of women in higher education careers is generally on the rise, challenges toward achieving equity and inclusion remain.

“Overt sexism is less prevalent now but there are countless instances of gender bias and discrimination that affect women in academia,” said Sara Brownell, associate professor in the School of Life Sciences. “Whether it's being asked to take notes at a meeting, not having your ideas attributed to you or not even being invited to a meeting — women experience gender bias. These seemingly insignificant challenges all add up over time.”

For The College, addressing these challenges and others that women in higher education positions face begins with supporting existing projects and creating new initiatives that drive change.  

“Creating equitable environments starts with investing in existing programs and people that have already been doing the work for a long time,” Fitts Ward said. “It also requires leaders to build transformational relationships by deepening their awareness of how power operates and leaning into the power that they have to make institutional change swiftly in ways that start with the most vulnerable within a community.”

Faculty across ASU and The College are leading myriad efforts to find solutions to issues of gender bias.

The Research for Inclusive STEM Education Center is one initiative that was launched last year with the goal of making higher education more inclusive through innovative research, ongoing events and campuswide interventions. In addition, last year The College launched a committee focused on justice, equity, diversity and inclusion that works to empower the community to engage in change around systemic racism and inequity in higher education.

“When we talk about the work of equity, justice, diversity and inclusion, women, of course, are at the forefront of that conversation,” said Pardis Mahdavi, dean of social sciences in The College. “This committee is striving to change the culture, the climate, the curriculum and the structures of the institution to pave the way for more equity for people of all genders, including women.”

In celebration of Women’s History Month, female faculty from The College shared challenges they have faced, triumphs they have experienced and what gives them hope about the future of women in academia.

Emily Balli

Communications Specialist and Lead Writer, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

ASU Foundation attains highest rating from Charity Navigator

ASU earns 9th consecutive four-star rating for foundation’s financial health, transparency and accountability


March 11, 2021

The ASU Foundation for A New American University attained Charity Navigator’s coveted four-star rating for the ninth consecutive year because it continuously demonstrates strong financial health and a commitment to transparency and accountability.

“We take the Charity Navigator four-star rating seriously and work hard to sustain this honor,” said Mark Antonucci, ASU Foundation vice president and chief of staff. “The ASU Foundation’s mission is to raise and manage private contributions to support the success of Arizona State University, and we can only fulfill that mission when we are financially sound and accountable to our donors.” Charity Navigator Four Star Charity Logo Download Full Image

The four-star rating is the highest a charity can achieve and is given to organizations that exceed industry standards and outperform most charities in its cause. Charity Navigator, an independent nonprofit charity evaluator, assesses more than 1.6 million charitable organizations’ financial health, accountability and transparency to guide donation decisions, according to its website. It does not charge the organizations for its evaluations, nor the public to access the information.

"In ASU Foundation's most recent Charity Navigator evaluation, the organization received its ninth consecutive four-star rating, which is considered the premier trust indicator of the nonprofit sector. Of the thousands of nonprofits we rate, only 2.7% have achieved this milestone," said Charity Navigator President and CEO Michael Thatcher. "ASU Foundation supporters can give confidently knowing that the foundation has a strong commitment to financial efficiency, accountability and transparency."

GuideStar by Candid has also recognized the ASU Foundation with a Gold Seal of Transparency for 2020 for voluntarily and publicly describing its goals, strategies and accomplishments.

Transparency, accountability and strong corporate citizenship are some of the things that attracted Malissia Clinton, senior vice president, general counsel and secretary of the Aerospace Corporation, to join the ASU Foundation board in 2018.

“The ASU Foundation plays an essential role in raising private support for Arizona State University to fulfill its charter, a mission that embodies my own beliefs on inclusion, diversity and being responsible citizens for the communities we serve,” said Clinton, who is an ASU alumna. “I’m very much into diversity and inclusion, and I feel like I have a duty on these boards I sit on to bring those issues forward and to help the organizations be better corporate citizens.”

Read ASU Foundation’s full Charity Navigator rating profile.

Michelle Stermole

Director of communications, Enterprise Partners

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