The students and staff at Stony Brook University in New York are familiar with what
is means to have a diverse and inclusive campus. Their school president, Samuel L.
Stanley, is one of only two U.S. college leaders serving on the board for the United
Nations' global initiative HeForShe, a campaign that advocates for the advancement
of gender equality.To that end, in 2018 – after two years of planning - the Long Island
university's Center for Corporate Education (CCE) launched its Women in STEM Leadership
Program, lead by Patricia Malone, executive director of the CCE.
"We have a very strong commitment to inclusiveness and recently hired a terrific chief
diversity officer who I'm working with to see if we can bring in their programs and
topics to our
Women in STEM Leadership Program," Malone says. "We are delighted that we are integrating the strength and commitment
from this university on diversity and inclusion within the context of this new Women
in STEM Leadership Program - a melting pot of the best elements to move the needle
forward for women and diverse populations in STEM."
Malone was hired nearly three decades ago to help launch the Stony Brook CCE, which
now serves close to 1,000 individuals engaged in training annually and works with
organizations to create programs focused on management, leadership, customer culture
and much more.
Her team is ready to grow the new program in a similar manner. "We benchmarked against
other women leadership programs and all of the literature about women in STEM," Malone
says. "In addition, we created a steering committee from academic and administrative
leaders on this campus, as well as a corporate advisory board. I ran a series of focus
groups about women in STEM, needs and issues, and I even ran an all-male focus group
to see what the male perspective was from a leadership standpoint on what organizations
and individuals can do to foster women's leadership roles. From all of that, we formed
content and brought in leaders from across the country to present."
They hosted their first cohort in May, and 26 women from the Long Island region participated.
"They were able to work through the various issues around self-leadership, leading
others, leading a team and leading organizations, as well as what the specific issues
of being in STEM are, barriers or strengths, at different points in time and how they
could utilize that," Malone says. "It was really fabulous, and one of the big themes
that we found from the women was the commitment to not only develop their strengths
as leaders, but to develop those strengths to coach, mentor and support the advocacy
of other women and diverse populations in STEM."
The intimacy of having a small group also allowed the women to get to know each other
better, Malone adds. "I wouldn't want it to be a huge auditorium filled with people.
I want it set up in a way that we can break up into small groups, interact, network
and really start to do relationship building."
One result of the cohort that Malone says she enjoyed the most was seeing women from
many professional STEM backgrounds, from scientists and engineers to researchers,
coming together and sharing their expertise in different work environments. "It was
a very rich conversation and a very big learning experience," she continues.
The next steps for the program are to host a second cohort in the fall. Malone also
will be coordinating with faculty leaders from Stony Brooks's College of Business
to write a white paper and report on the themes of the first event so that they can
benchmark against the needs for organizations to create a more sustainable and susceptible
environment for female leaders in STEM.
In addition, in the fall, they will be convening more formal and informal coffee meet-ups,
workshops and seminars for women, as well as establishing mentorship models for women
in science and engineering. One of the workshops will include a pre-assessment and
delivery model on implicit bias and culture. "There's a lot of great work happening
across the board with a lot of organizations," Malone says. "We're just hoping our
institution can be instrumental in offering even more resources."
As for how Malone foresees this initiative improving diversity and inclusion in the
workplace: "It's imperative for all of us to be looking at how more and more individuals
can have access and opportunity," she says. "We are part of a bigger conversation,
not only within the region but within the state and beyond, in working with our community
colleges, public and private institutions, workforce boards and high schools in making
sure there's a shared conversation to create career opportunities and pathways. It's
great to run the programs from the institution, but it's also great to be part of
a network within the region that addresses different entry points for individuals.
We cast a wide net as a public research institution."
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