The latest grants awarded by the Henry Luce Foundation’s Clare Boothe Luce (CBL) Program for Women in STEM will benefit 85 women over the next six years. These awards to twelve higher education institutions across the country, combined with grants to 13 institutions supported in perpetuity (according to Clare Boothe Luce’s will), total nearly $9 million in support of women pursuing studies and careers in STEM.
“We are thrilled to support this outstanding group of schools, including two Minority Serving Institutions. Each year, competition for CBL awards becomes more intense as schools increasingly recognize the importance of supporting women in STEM. It not only benefits the recipients but also strengthens the institution and benefits society as a whole,” said Dr. Carlotta Arthur, Program Director of the Clare Boothe Luce Program.
Established in 1989, the Clare Boothe Luce (CBL) Program for Women in STEM encourages women to study and teach in STEM disciplines in which they are underrepresented. In recent years, the Luce Foundation has advanced leadership development of women in STEM and promoted systemic, structural, and cultural change efforts in higher education. In particular, the Foundation has intensified its focus on women of color, increased grantmaking to minority-led institutions, and supported work on women in STEM innovation.
During the selection process, the CBL Program gives considerable weight and attention to how each institution has and will continue to support women students and faculty. For example, in addition to offering tenure clock extensions for new-parent faculty and providing nursing support for new mothers, the California Institute of Technology is home to the Children’s Center at Caltech, which provides childcare on campus. “The Clare Boothe Luce Professorship helps Caltech support women during their pivotal years as assistant professors,” said Caltech President Thomas F. Rosenbaum, Professor of Physics and Sonja and William Davidow Presidential Chair. “Such resources enable young faculty members to fulfill their research ambitions and more fully avail themselves of professional opportunities while blending the responsibilities of work and life.”
2021 CBL Program grantee Saint Catherine University, a Catholic institution and one of the largest women's universities in the nation, is also a Minority Serving Institution. “St. Kate's” was awarded its third CBL grant for undergraduate scholarships. “St. Catherine University aspires to change the faces of leadership in science, tech, engineering, and math to better reflect the communities these fields serve,” said Anita Thomas, PhD, Executive Vice President and Provost at St. Kate’s. “These scholarships, combined with a support structure developed to meet students wherever they are at in life, make it easier for students to focus on bringing their best to their classes.” Fifteen of St. Kate’s seventeen past CBL scholars have gone on to pursue graduate degrees in science or transitioned directly to STEM-related careers after graduation.
An award to first-time CBL grantee Rutgers University – Newark—a Hispanic-Serving Institution—will fund three undergraduate scholarships. The university invests heavily in supporting its students, many of whom are first-generation college students who face socioeconomic pressures or complex life-situations that disproportionately impact women. “Close mentoring and peer support are especially critical for students who otherwise might not have the opportunity to interact with women like them who are successful in STEM,” said Rutgers University – Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor, who has served on National Science Foundation bodies addressing pathways for women in STEM since the 1980s. “It is in working closely with students in the lab and in the field that we really get to know each other, and they get to see what careers in STEM look and feel like. They can begin to see their futures in STEM,” added Ashaki Rouff, Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental sciences.
The work of the Clare Boothe Luce Program is complemented by the Foundation’s recently launched STEM Convergence grantmaking, which aims to encourage innovative, interdisciplinary approaches, and full participation of women of color in STEM disciplines. Supported programs and activities will elevate the voices of—and shift narratives about—the participation of women of color in STEM. Luce Foundation grants will also cultivate a cadre of Black and Indigenous women innovators at the cutting edge of interdisciplinary, STEM-based innovation for positive social impact. Several grants have already been awarded including a grant to the Society of STEM Women of Color to develop a podcast series by Black and Indigenous women and a planning grant to the American Indian Science Engineering Society (AISES) to support the development of a STEM leadership program for Indigenous women.