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Overcoming Barriers to Advancement for Women in STEM: A Case-Study Approach to Navigating the Workplace

Overcoming Barriers to Advancement for Women in STEM: A Case-Study Approach to Navigating the Workplace -

The presence of gender bias, discrimination, and inequity in the workplace can discourage many women in STEM from pursuing their career aspirations. The NAVIGATE Project, a skills-based training program developed by faculty at the University at Buffalo and Cal Poly, aims to support women in STEM to navigate these challenging situations and persist in their careers, ultimately achieving leadership roles.


The program utilizes 10 case studies based on the real-life experiences of women in various professional settings and stages of their careers. Each case presents a challenging dilemma that participants analyze and develop practical and strategic responses to. By working through these cases, women in STEM can develop the critical thinking and problem-solving skills that will help them navigate power dynamics in the workplace and succeed in their careers. The NAVIGATE Project case studies were peer reviewed by an interdisciplinary group of researchers and scholars, including SWE’s Associate Director of Research, Dr. Roberta Rincon.


The case studies are available for free download on the NAVIGATE Project website and include detailed facilitation guides, discussion questions, and group activities. The NAVIGATE Project, which was made possible through funding from an NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) award in the Innovations of Graduate Education (IGE) Track, is suitable for both formal and informal training settings, and the cases can be used individually or as a series.


Link to the case studies:


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1735143 and Grant No. 1735218. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


  • Liesel Folks

    Liesl Folks serves as Provost and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Arizona. She holds a PhD degree in Physics from the University of Western Australia and an MBA from Cornell University.

  • Coleen Carrigan

    Coleen Carrigan is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Science, Technology & Society at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She holds a PhD and MA in Socio-Cultural Anthropology from the University of Washington.

  • Laurene Tumiel Berhalter

    Laurene Tumiel Berhalter is Associate Professor and Director of Community Translational Research in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Department of Family Medicine, at the University of Buffalo. Her PhD and MS in Epidemiology and Community Health are from the University at Buffalo.

  • Nancy Schiller

    Nancy Schiller is Librarian Emerita, University Libraries, and Co-Director Emerita of the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science at the University at Buffalo. Her MS in Library Service is from Columbia University.