Mary Frank Fox, ADVANCE professor

Posted June 4, 2018

ADVANCE Professor Mary Frank Fox, reflects on 25 years of research, teaching, and service in Georgia Tech’s School of Policy. The School of Public Policy is a unit of Georgia Tech’s Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts.

I arrived as associate professor at Georgia Tech (GT) in August 1993 with a big undertaking ahead: a study of 1,200 faculty and 5,000 students in graduate education in departments with high, low, and improved proportions of doctoral degrees awarded to women in science and engineering fields over time. A challenge here: stamps were needed to mail the surveys (in order to provide personalized protocols, and in turn, response rates). Stamps have equivalence in cash (currency), and GT had not previously encountered a purchase of them with a faculty member’s external grant. To the rescue came Terry Blum (then, school of management within IAC) — the project was on its way, and Fox learned that GT is a problem-solving place!

My research projects at GT have been fundamentally memorable. , including studies of programs for undergraduate women in science and engineering; women and men in scientific careers; international research mobility and collaboration; and recently, the growth and features of published knowledge on gender, science, and technology over a 40-year period,and challenges in transmitting that knowledge to a broad audience. 

Defining these problems, pursuing them, and discovering findings are a wondrous process! It was an honor being elected in 2017 as Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for this research. 

Throughout, my research program is organized in teamwork with undergraduate and graduate students. The Georgia Tech students on my team, and in the classroom, are a marvel: curious, ingenious, and problem-solving!  My students and their accomplishments are a hallmark.

Deeply valued as well are colleagues in my School of Public Policy, Ivan Allen College, and the Institute — who are committed to fostering environments of inquiry and discovery, and equity, diversity, and excellence. It has been an honor and a privilege to co-found the GT ADVANCE program, and serve as ADVANCE Professor for Ivan Allen College. I also value the opportunity to co-founding the Center for the Study of Women, Science, and Technology (WST), with the Institute’s first undergraduate student-faculty research program and learning community, and one of the nation’s first curricular programs in the study of women, science, and technology. 

In these pathways, critical relationships occur — and I have been blessed in these.  First were my parents with their indomitable courage and dedication to social justice — voting, housing, and workers’ rights. As a child, they left me breathless — and today, from their heavenly places, they are a continuing inspiration. Second is a spouse who is endlessly interesting and interested in both art and science (and the cross-overs between them). Third is my doctoral advisor, who said, “read, write, read, write, write, write.” Fourth are wonderful students and colleagues who make this work a community of commitment.

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Rebecca Keane
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