History and Mission


KAWSE was established in 2011 to enrich the lives of women faculty and students in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields (STEM). The office offers programs related to STEM pre-college outreach, undergraduate retention, graduate and postdoctoral fellow support, and faculty enrichment programs. It also collaborates with other university programs serving students from groups historically marginalized in the science and engineering fields. KAWSE is charged with providing activities through our successful GROW, EXCITE, SUCCEED and ADVANCE programs.

Our pre-college programming is divided into the Girls Researching Our World (GROW) program and the Exploring Science, Technology, and Engineering (EXCITE) program. GROW was created in 2000 and its events are designed for students of all genders in 6th- 8th grades to foster their interest in STEM fields. EXCITE was created in 2002 and its events are designed for students of all genders in the 9th-12th grades to further their interest in STEM fields. It also encourages students to pursue their interests at K-State by providing them with opportunities to meet K-State STEM students and faculty, and to experience campus life.

Our undergraduate and graduate students benefit from the SUCCEED program. SUCCEED offers opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students of all genders in STEM to mentor middle school and high school students; network with faculty, other students and industry professionals in STEM; and learn strategies to overcome common barriers to women’s success in male-dominated fields. This program is home to the KAWSE Ambassadors departmental student organization founded in 2017, a group dedicated to connecting with and encouraging high school women to pursue degrees in STEM fields at K-State.

The ADVANCE program offers networking, professional development, and support for postdoctoral researchers and faculty of all genders. It also raises awareness about gender inequality and inequity in academia and STEM fields and communicates best practices for increasing diversity and inclusion.


In 2003, Kansas State University was awarded an ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF). At K-State, the original ADVANCE program began with six partner departments in the natural sciences, veterinary medicine, and engineering. These departments agreed to learn more about gender issues and initiate self-studies of their policies, procedures and other documents to ensure they were gender equitable. In year four, the program expanded to include four additional departments. The project now includes all Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Social Science departments in the colleges of Agriculture; Architecture, Planning and Design; Arts & Sciences; Health and Human Sciences; and Veterinary Medicine. The funding period for this $3.5 million award ended in September, 2010.

In 2011, ADVANCE became one of the programs under the KAWSE Office umbrella. KAWSE's mission is to enhance the environment for girls and women interested in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields (STEM). The KAWSE office serves as the university's administrative center for pre-college outreach, undergraduate retention, graduate and postdoctoral fellow support, and faculty support programs. The ADVANCE program offers networking opportunities and support for postdoctoral fellows and faculty in STEM disciplines.

The ADVANCE program at K-State has four project goals: creating a more gender-equitable climate, increasing the recruitment of women faculty, ensuring the retention and advancement of women faculty, and institutionalizing best practices throughout the university. These goals have been addressed through a number of initiatives, from Equity Action Workshops (climate), targeted recruitment visits (recruitment), a Distinguished Lectureship program that matches junior faculty with established scholars in their fields (retention and advancement), and ongoing assessment and dissemination concerning ADVANCE initiatives (institutionalization).

Enhancing the recruitment, retention and advancement of women not only increases the talent pool among our faculty, it also helps to ensure diverse viewpoints and novel ways of thinking about scientific and social problems. In an increasingly complicated social world, universities can ill afford to neglect the talent that diversity brings to the academy.