Texas Tech University

Women of Color Writing Group Shares Tips to Success

By: Karen Michael 

From left to right, Carla Lacerda, Debra Lavender-Bratcher, Sylvia Mendez-Morse, and Karina Alviña
From left to right: Carla Lacerda, Debra Lavender-Bratcher, Sylvia Mendez-Morse, and Karina Alviña

A small group of women faculty members at Texas Tech University are finding success in a writing group that stresses support, accountability and productivity.

Six faculty members presented a workshop, Women Owning Writing, at the Annual Women and Gender Studies Conference at Texas Tech in late April. Four of them also made a similar presentation at the Faculty Women of Color in the Academy National Conference at Virginia Tech University in early April.

Texas Tech has a Women Faculty Writing Program, from which several faculty women's writing groups have been forming since 2015. This group of seven consists entirely of women of color. Since it started in spring of 2018, its members have garnered 10 award nominations, two book chapter or proposals, 51 conference abstracts, $326,681 in grant funding, and 26 published manuscripts.

Group members spoke enthusiastically at the conference at Texas Tech about the support they have found in their group, which helps them balance teaching, service, research and family responsibilities.

Recently they have grown introspective about why their group works for them.

"It is a way to network across the university and not be isolated," said Nadia Flores, assistant professor of sociology. "We found a place to really share the things that mattered to us."

Carla Lacerda, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, said the group may work better than some because of its nurturing environment.

"It is important to have a nurturing environment that makes everyone more productive," Lacerda said.

Karina Alviña, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, said the group is working on exploring why their group is succeeding.

"Groups dissolve and leaders come and go, so why is it that we're enduring?" Alviña said, noting that the faculty members want to share their success with others by publishing a research article exploring and describing why this group is effective in increasing faculty productivity.

Other members of the group are Brandy Piña-Watson, an assistant professor of psychological sciences; Debra Lavender-Bratcher, an assistant professor of social work; Sungwon Shin, an assistant professor of education; and Sylvia Mendez-Morse, professor emeritus.