Peabody Reflector

Dean Benbow visits the White House

Around the Mall, Issue, Winter 2012 | No Comment | |

On Monday, Sept. 26, when First Lady Michelle Obama hosted an event at the White House to announce a new program designed to make life easier for women in research careers, Peabody Dean Camilla Benbow was in the audience.

Benbow had been invited in her capacity as a member of the National Science Board.

The program that the first lady announced is the Career-Life Balance Initiative of the National Science Foundation. It is a 10-year plan to provide greater work-related flexibility to women and men in research careers. Its goal is to reduce the dropout rate of women in the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Women currently earn 41 percent of the Ph.D.’s in STEM fields, but make up only 28 percent of tenure-track faculty in those fields.

According to Benbow, the NSF Initiative “represents a significant advance for women working in STEM fields and for young women who may feel encouraged to pursue careers in these areas. Announcing this initiative at the White House, with the full involvement of the first lady, sends an important signal to young women that they are valued members of the U.S. scientific community.”

The dean was particularly pleased that Peabody alumna Monica Cox was a featured panelist at the event. Cox, who received her Ph.D. in leadership and policy studies from Peabody in 2005, is an associate professor at Purdue University, where she directs the Pedagogical Evaluation Laboratory. In 2008 she received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from NSF. While she was at Vanderbilt, Cox was a member of the assessment and evaluation thrust of VaNTH, the Vanderbilt–Northwestern–Texas–Harvard/MIT Engineering Research Center set up in 1999 to improve bioengineering education.

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