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Expert on gender equity among female scientists to speak Sept. 16 at MSU



Virginia Valian, the author of “Why So Slow?,” the acclaimed examination of why so few women occupy positions of power and prestige at universities, will headline a day of activities and conversations about gender equity set Friday, Sept. 16, at Montana State University.

Valian will give a free public lecture, “Why So Slow? A Campus Conversation About Gender in the Academy,” at 1 the SUB’s Procrastinator Theater. A book signing will follow in Leigh Lounge.

Valian is a professor in the Department of Psychology in Hunter College. Her work in the college’s Language Acquisition Research Center investigates the use of language in children. However, her work in cognition and gender and gender equity was spotlighted beginning in 1998 when she published “Why So Slow? The advancement of women.” Since that time, she has become an expert in the advancement of women in sciences, engineering, and in higher education, called “the academy.”

Valian is also co-director of the Gender Equity Project at Hunter College, which is dedicated to “demolishing the glass ceiling for academic women scientists.”

“Even those of us with the best of intentions can unconsciously act in biased ways ” said Jessi L. Smith, professor of psychology at MSU and project leader of the MSU National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE grant proposal. Smith said the ADVANCE grant aims to transform MSU culture to one that is as inclusive as possible. “The ADVANCE team sees Dr Valian’s visit as a chance to help our campus re-think gender issues in academic work settings, as a first step to confronting and preventing gender bias. We are thrilled that President (Cruzado) and Provost (Potvin) and the Women’s Task Force have committed to her visit”

While visiting MSU on Sept. 16, Valian will meet with MSU President Waded Cruzado and MSU Provost Martha Potvin. She also will meet with the newly formed President’s Commission on the Status of University Women. Other events include a meeting with MSU deans and departments heads to discuss equity, a workshop on professional development for women faculty members a leadership development workshop for emerging leaders on campus, as well as a reception and book discussion with students and faculty of MSU Women and Gender Studies.

“MSU is one of only four institutions nationally with both a woman president and provost. But this doesn’t mean MSU is “done” and gender issues are a thing of the past,” Smith said. “What it does mean is that MSU is poised for change and growth. This event will be an important reminder for all of us that everyone benefits from diversity and equality.”

Valian’s visit is sponsored by the Office of the President, the Office of the Provost, the College of Letters and Science and the Office of Affirmative Action.

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