UVa CHARGE Program



UVA CHARGE is the University of Virginia’s National Science Foundation ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant, designed to increase the participation of women in the academic science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and social, behavioral and economic (SBE) science careers, with a focus on faculty. The programs for this five year grant ran from 2012 – 2017, with a 6th year extension given by NSF to complete evaluation and assessments

What is an ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant?

ADVANCE grants are major awards given by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The goal of NSF’s ADVANCE program is to “increase the representation and advancement of women in academic science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers, thereby developing a more diverse science and engineering workforce. ADVANCE programs also target women in the social, behavioral and economic (SBE) sciences.”

The largest ADVANCE awards, Institutional Transformation (IT) grants, are designed to “systemically transform institutional practices and climate at universities and colleges in order to recruit, retain and promote women in science and engineering academic careers.” Since 2001, the NSF ADVANCE program has invested over $130 million in over 100 institutions to help achieve these goals.

For more information see the NSF ADVANCE Program brochure and the NSF ADVANCE Program Information page.  

For research studies and other resources regarding the underrepresentation of women in STEM and SBE fields, please see the Research and Resources page on this Website.

Why is it so important to increase the representation and advancement of women in STEM and SBE fields?

The underrepresentation of women in STEM and SBE fields is a critical issue not only for UVA but for the Commonwealth and the nation at large, as the need to develop a globally competitive and diverse workforce increases.

Despite the gains that women have made in obtaining PhDs in STEM-SBE fields, for a variety of reasons they continue to be underrepresented in academe broadly, and at UVA specifically. This underrepresentation of women is not just an issue of fairness or equity. The curriculum that is taught, the research that is done, the health care that is given, all of these things that we do are indelibly shaped by those involved in the doing. Accordingly, broadening the participation of women in STEM-SBE fields will strengthen the University’s ability to compete in the increasingly global environment of higher education and expand the impact that UVA students, faculty and alumni have in the world.  UVA CHARGE will better enable us to achieve our aspirations as an inclusive institution, to ensure that all individuals, regardless of their gender, have the opportunity to excel.


What are the overall goals of UVA CHARGE?

To increase the numbers of all women, especially from underrepresented groups, on the faculty in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and in the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

To engage as a community of faculty and administrative leaders to identify and ameliorate the structural and cultural barriers to women’s full participation in academic STEM careers at UVA.

What sub-goals and programs did UVA CHARGE utilize to meet these goals?

UVA CHARGE has five initiatives designed to meet the overall goals of the program.

Goal 1: 21st Century Departments

To strengthen and support departmental efforts to create a positive environment for all faculty with an emphasis on women.

  • Directors of Diversity and Inclusion (nee Equity Advisors in SEAS)
  • Training chairs and deans
  • P&T audit and training


Goal 2: Recruitment & Hiring

To increase the gender diversity of STEM/SBS departments.

  • Academic Search Portal
  • Faculty Search Seminars
  • Recruitment Grants
  • Directors of Diversity and Inclusion (nee Equity Advisors): attending candidate job talks, calling candidates after interviews, working with search and P&T committees
  • Dual career solutions


Goal 3: Voices & Visibility

To increase the sense of belonging of STEM/SBS women faculty in their schools and departments and across the university as a whole

  • Oral histories
  • Photo exhibit
  • Enhancement grants
  • Social Science Research


How will we know that we have been successful?

UVA ADVANCE has ambitious goals and is committed to rigorous assessment of progress toward those goals, as required by NSF.  To that end the grant provides for both internal and externala> evaluation. Evaluators have utilized quantitative and qualitative methods, with assessment activities tailored to the primary goals of the respective initiatives.

We have posted institutional data, including faculty numbers on the goals pages of this UVA CHARGE Web site


Why did UVA get this grant?

ADVANCE Institutional Transformation (IT) grants are only awarded under certain conditions. The universities or colleges must:

  • Already have demonstrated the ability to advance women in STEM and SBE fields
  • Have the capacity to:
    • carry out comprehensive programs for institution-wide change in these arenas
    • Disseminate the innovative tools and systems they have created to the broader higher education community
    • Incorporate, sustain and institutionalize changes after funding period.

  The University of Virginia, therefore, joins a distinguished cadre of institutions that have received ADVANCE IT grants in the past, including Cornell, University of Michigan, Virginia Tech, University of Washington, Georgia Institute of Technology, Purdue, and University of Wisconsin.

UVA CHARGE team members are nationally recognized as leaders and investigators, both in their academic disciplines and in arenas that relate more specifically to the work of the grant, including faculty development, leadership training, diversity initiatives, innovation and the underrepresentation of women in STEM and SBE fields.


Who is involved in overseeing the program?

Principal Investigators (PIs) for the grant include Gertrude Fraser, the lead PI, Program Director and Co-PI Pamela Norris, and Co-PISophie Trawalter. We were very saddened to lose our other co-PI Joanne Cohoon after a valient fight with cancer.

Dinko Počanić and Mary Lou Soffa are senior personnel. Other implementation team members were

Program Evaluation will be provided internally by Karen Inkelas, assisted by Callie Uffman and externally by Emorica Hill.

Our Program Managers, first Linda Siebert, followed by Kelly Feltault, did a excellent job of carrying out the UVA CHARGE goals, assisted by several very able staff members.

See the People page and the Organizational Chart for more details.


How is the program funded and how long will it last?

The program was funded with a National Science Foundation ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant of $3,017,226 spread over the five year period from October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2017. With a “no cost six year extension” granted by NSF, UVA CHARGE will continue through September 30, 2018, as we wrap up several complex evaluation and dissemination projects.


Are ADVANCE and CHARGE acronyms?

No. Even though ADVANCE usually presented all in capitals, it simply refers to advancing women in STEM and SBE fields. And likewise UVA CHARGE, which plays on the ideas of electrical charges and a strong move forward


What do STEM, SBE and URM stand for?

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. SBE stands for social, behavioral and economic sciences and URM stands for underrepresented minorities.


What other institutions have received Institutional Transformation grants?

As of October 2012, ADVANCE IT awards have been made in five rounds (2001, 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2012) to 42 institutions. A complete list of awardees, by round of funding, can be found here. The most complete information about ADVANCE awardees and initiatives can be found at the ADVANCE Portal Web site.


Were men included in this program?

Yes. Achieving true diversity requires that both women and men honor each other and work together. Men have been actively engaged in UVA CHARGE since the beginning working in partnership with women, both on the Implementation Team and in the broader ADVANCE community.



© Copyright 2012-2017 by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia

If you would like more information about UVA CHARGE, please send an email to the team at uvacharge@virginia.edu. Feedback and suggestions are also welcome.

UVA CHARGE Program | Cobb Hall 2005 | P.O. Box 400239 | Charlottesville, VA 22904