The School of Earth, Environment and Sustainability (SEES) at Missouri State University has a new Doctor of Education (EdD) with the same face. Dr. Melanie Carden-Jessen has completed her EdD at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Carden-Jessen quotes Gal Gadot in the 2020 film Wonder Woman 1984.
“Sometimes you can’t see what you’re learning until you come out the other side,” she said. “Now that I’m on the other side, I can see how much further I have to go on my learning journey.”
Carden-Jessen decided to pursue her EdD for a lot of reasons, including personal and professional growth.
“I wanted to better understand the world of education, both K-12 and higher education, and how to work cooperatively to make changes for the betterment of everyone,” she said. “I wanted to be in a better position to help facilitate change.”
With her new qualification, she plans to continue working with MSU’s ADVANCE team and helping them continue their research they started with the first National Science Foundation (NSF) ADVANCE grant.
The grant actively encourages gender equity within the field of science. It offers resources to institutions to help facilitate the removal of barriers that hinder women faculty members from achieving success in STEM careers.
It involves piloting strategies for promoting equity on a systemic level and constructing a five-year plan based on research and data to enhance conditions for STEM faculty at MSU.
“The ADVANCE team has applied for the NSF ADVANCE Adaptation grant, so we hope to make some improvements in the status of women in STEM,” Carden-Jessen said.
Deciphering women’s journeys in STEM
According to the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, women currently earn half of the doctorates awarded in the United States but hold 37% of the full professor positions. This cannot be explained by demographic inertia.
This issue fueled Carden-Jessen’s dissertation, “Persistence Overcomes Resistance: The Journey of Women in STEM to Full Professor.”
“We sought to understand the lived experiences of women STEM full professors in professional doctorate-granting institutions and their perception of the impact of their experiences on their promotion to full professor,” she said.
“We found that family influence, a sense of belonging, collaborators, investment from persons in positions of power, intrinsic motivation and institutional support can create a framework for institutional leaders to develop policies, procedures and programs that increase women faculty and leadership in STEM disciplines.”
This research gave Carden-Jessen valuable experience, and she notes she could not have done it without some important people.
“I learned so much during my journey through the EdD program with Dr. Cynthia MacGregor and Dr. Kennedy Ongaga at University of Missouri-Columbia Cooperative EdD Cohort,” she said. “At MSU, I’m grateful for the support from Dr. Toby Dogwiler, Dr. Jorge Rebaza and Dr. Tamera Jahnke.”
Congratulations, Dr. Carden-Jessen!