WVU Advance

Increasing the Participation and Advancement of Women in Academic Science and Engineering

Melissa Latimer

Director of WVU Advance Center, Professor of Sociology and Adjunct Professor of Women’s Studies


“You have to have faculty who reflect the students you are trying to recruit. It’s important for the faculty to have the diversity that you are trying to achieve. It’s important to have a mixture of males and females from different cultures and backgrounds. By seeing this diversity, students have the feeling that they can also achieve a career in science or academia. This is what the ADVANCE Grant is all about; recruiting women and underrepresented groups in the STEM sciences. Then once they get here, paying them, ensuring that they get promoted and don’t leave. If you can do this, the recruitment possibilities are endless.”

Melissa Latimer is an Professor of Sociology and Adjunct Professor of Women’s Studies at West Virginia University. She received an MA and Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Kentucky. Melissa Latimer’s research and publications have focused on the major ways in which gender, race, and class inequality are constructed and reconstructed through labor market processes and welfare policies. Much of her published work involves understanding individual experiences with social insurance and social assistance programs and how these experiences vary by gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, and place. More recently, her research has concentrated on welfare reform’s short-term and long-term effects on individuals in economically disadvantaged areas. She has been a member of the Interdisciplinary Research Task Force on Welfare Reform at West Virginia University since 1998. This research group has conducted to date four representative surveys of West Virginia welfare recipients. The research reports can be found online at the Institute for Public Affairs website: Another outcome of this research is the 2004 book Welfare Reform in West Virginia. The book was selected as one of the top twelve finalists for the Book of the Year Award in Political Science in ForeWord Magazine.


  • Ph.D. Sociology – University of Kentucky
  • MA Sociology – University of Kentucky

Research Areas

  • Gender, Race and Class Inequality
  • Labor Market Processes
  • Welfare Policies

Courses Taught

  • SocA 235 Race Relations
  • SocA 360 Women & Men in Society
  • SocA 389 Writing in SocA
  • SocA 405 Introduction to Social Inequality
  • SocA 488 Capstone Experience
  • SocA 493G Sex Lies and Statistics
  • SocA 494 Adv. Sociological Methods
  • SocA 510 Principles of Research Design

Active Grants

ADVANCE Grant, National Science Foundation, 3.2 Million: Purpose is to help increase the number of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematic disciplines, and to encourage these scientists with advanced degrees to consider academia as a viable and attractive career option.

Role in the ADVANCE Grant

Melissa Latimer, Co-PI on the ADVANCE grant, served as the Interim Director of the WVU ADVANCE Center for 2010-2011. She has completed a five year term as Chair of the Division of Sociology and Anthropology and will move into the Director position full-time in year two of the grant. She has primary responsibility for integrating the functions of the Equity Leadership Team, the STEM Implementation Team, as well as the Internal and External Advisory Boards, coordinating the various activities and communications of the office, working with WVU faculty development personnel on University initiatives and policies, ensuring timely collection and assessment of evaluation data as well as submission of grant reports, maintaining regular and substantive communication with the Provost and President, and overseeing the project budget.

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Partial support for this work was provided by the National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE IT Program under Award HRD-1007978. 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.

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