MILWAUKEE — NASA is on a mission to increase retention of women in STEM, and a Milwaukee college may be the answer.

NASA gave Alverno College a three-year, $746,947 award to “research and develop strategies to increase retention of women in STEM degree programs and fields.” Alverno is one of seven women’s colleges and universities given the award.

“There is a significant gender gap in STEM, in both education and the workforce,” said Jeanie Lucy, dean of Alverno College’s School of Arts and Sciences and principal investigator for the project. “Increasing the number of women in STEM is crucial to bringing new ideas and different perspectives to the table, paving the way for better innovation. We are thrilled to continue our work in this area, and honored to be chosen for this award.”

In total, NASA is awarding more than $5 million to the women’s schools part of its Minority University Research and Education Project; 34 women’s colleges and universities were invited to apply for the program. Alverno is the only one in the region to be selected, and the only minority-serving institution chosen.

Other institutions receiving MUREP funding include: Agnes Scott College in Georgia, Cedar Crest College in Pennsylvania, College of Saint Mary in Nebraska, Salem Academy and College in North Carolina, Simmons University in Boston and Smith College in Massachusetts.

MUREP aims to “help women overcome obstacles to working in fields of science, technology, engineering and math” and “address the significant national gender gap and disparate experiences of women in STEM in the United States, both in higher education and the workforce.”

Alverno has the opportunity to renew project funding for an addition two years after the program is complete.

“This is a very exciting first; we’re making strides to close the pervasive gender gap in STEM, and Women’s Colleges and Universities are well-positioned to help drive that positive change,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy, a graduate from Wellesley College. “It’s more important than ever we have brilliant, enthusiastic people entering the workforce and ready to take on the ambitious plans and challenges ahead.”


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