History of ACCESS
In 1991, the University of Utah College of Science developed the ACCESS Program for Women in Science and Mathematics to give women new opportunities for education in science and math.
At that time, Dr. Hugo Rossi was the Dean of the College of Science. He was inspired to begin this project by the Utah Math and Science Network, a group of Utah women in math- or science-related careers, and by studies showing that women in science had fewer opportunities than men, especially in Utah. Alongside College of Science faculty and staff, the Utah Math and Science Network, and teachers at local colleges and high schools, Dr. Rossi wrote a proposal to the National Science Foundation to fund the creation of a new program for young women.
The NSF proposal included lectures, laboratory work, promotion, and financial support for students. The proposal detailed the program's main purposes:
- Improve the retention rate of women studying science or math at the U
- Increase community awareness of career opportunities in technical fields
- Provide early research experience to young women in undergraduate programs
- Allow two students, Anean Christensen and Jill Geblet, to visit high schools and recruit interested students
Thanks to the work of Dr. Rossi and many key players (Carolyn Connell, Colleen Kennedy, Richard Steiner, Jacquelyn Stonebraker, and Christopher Johnson, just to name a few), the NSF proposal was funded and the ACCESS Program for Women in Science and Mathematics was born.
Even though NSF funding ended in 1993, an outpouring of support from the University, our community, and private donors allowed the ACCESS Program to survive and thrive for more than two decades.
The inaugural ACCESS Class of 1991 consisted of 20 science students; due to the generosity of our supporters, more than 40 ACCESS students are now recruited each year. Our ACCESS alumnae (more than 500 strong!) can be found working at businesses and universities around the world. Clearly, the ACCESS Program is an unqualified success. We hope it will continue for many decades to come.