WGS Professors Receive the Chancellor's Outstanding Contribution to Women Award

Photo Credit: WGS Faculty members Mary Anne Holmes and Julia McQuillan
May 2, 2014
WGS Faculty members Mary Anne Holmes and Julia McQuillan received the Chancellor's Outstanding Contribution to Women Award from the university for their work on the ADVANCE-Nebraska program. They were honored for their efforts to create a climate that encourages women to succeed at the university.

Two members of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln ADVANCE-Nebraska program were honored Tuesday for their efforts to elevate the status of women on campus.

Director Mary Anne Holmes and Julia McQuillan, co-principal investigator for the National Science Foundation grant-funded program, received the Chancellor’s Outstanding Faculty Contribution to Women Award from Chancellor Harvey Perlman and the Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Women during a ceremony and reception in the Nebraska Union Heritage room.

UNL was awarded the $3.8 million NSF ADVANCE program grant in 2008. According to its website, the goal of the ADVANCE-Nebraska program is to foster an environment at UNL “where all Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) faculty thrive.” Another focus is the retention of female faculty.

McQuillan, director of the Bureau of Sociological Research and a professor of sociology, said it was exciting the university recognized the program’s work.

“It’s in the interest of the university and in the interest of science, technology, engineering and mathematics that we have the best people working on projects,” McQuillan said. “We have so many big issues that need to be addressed, and if unnecessary barriers that are getting in the way – and a lot of times assumptions about gender create unnecessary barriers – if we can get rid of those barriers, then it’s better for everybody. I firmly believe that we can make a difference. We can change things so that we’re more inclusive.”

Holmes, an associate professor of practice in earth and atmospheric sciences, said one of her goals is to ensure women are treated fairly.

“I am a scientist, and I have faced overt discrimination,” she said. “And I just want to make sure that nobody has to go through that again because science is so much fun. I love doing it, and I don’t think that anybody who has a passion for it should be discouraged from it in any way.”

Holmes said she comes from a lineage of women interested in women’s rights.

“My grandmother was 22 years old before she had the right to vote,” she said. “When she died, we found a little package with every one of her voting receipts; she saved every one of them.”

Holmes’ mother also worked with the League of Women Voters in Georgia for 20 years to change legislation banning women from entering into contracts without a male cosigner.

Lis Arneson, Wednesday, March 13, 2013 Daily Nebraskan