Women throughout the Oregon State community are blazing the trail to create better opportunities for their students, peers and fellow women. Their tireless work and undeniable drive to facilitate change were celebrated through the third-annual Breaking Barriers Awards, created by the President’s Commission on the Status of Women, the Office of Institutional Diversity, the Office of the Provost and OSU Athletics. The awards recognize efforts in research, mentoring and advocacy. The 2020 honorees are:

Breaking Barriers in Education

Maude David, assistant professor in the College of Science, created the David Laboratory, which uses computational tools to explore the connections between the human gut microbiome and the brain to better understand Autism Spectrum Disorder and anxiety. Within her lab, David has created opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students. 

Natasha Mallette, instructor in the College of Engineering, works to build competent, compassionate and capable engineers. As a rare female in her chosen field, Mallette is proof that women belong in engineering. She provides practical steps to build student confidence and improve engineering culture for one another — starting with understanding issues like imposter syndrome and gender bias.

Breaking Barriers in Research

Gender plays a large part in how society views our roles and behavior.
OSU-Cascades business professor Satoris Howes is dedicated to uncovering the differences between men and women in the work-family conflict, the ways society expects men and women to present themselves and how that impacts women in traditionally masculine roles like military service. Most recently, Howes has begun examining different options for supporting transgender and gender-nonconforming employees.

Harriet “Hattie” Redmond Award

The 3D Dam Diverse Dance group has played an instrumental role in building community for women of color at Oregon State. Established in 2018, it gives students an opportunity to connect with others while liberating themselves from western notions of gender, race and sexuality. The group has performed at India Night, drag shows, Take Back the Night and generated conversations about gender and racial injustice.

Allison Davis-White Eyes is described by colleagues as an agent of change. She continuously advocates for minoritized communities throughout Oregon to strengthen the university’s relationships and land grant mission. She has played a key role in advancing support for Native American students via Oregon State Ecampus, creating an institution-wide Native Indigenous strategic plan and advancing a project proposal for the Native Indigenous Research Institute.

PCOSW Community Builder Award

The field of geosciences has the lowest representation of women and people of color in academia. But there’s an opportunity to change that, thanks to Unpacking Diversity — a College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences professional learning community. It provides a safe space for discussions about equity, diversity and inclusion with expert OSU facilitators. Since its inception in 2017, Unpacking Diversity has brought in more than 700 faculty, staff, students and visitors.

Breaking Barriers in Athletics

Tanya Chaplin has coached the Oregon State gymnastics team for 23 years. She makes it a priority to be a mentor to her athletes during and long after their college careers. In 2019, she led the team to a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Championships — making it one of the best seasons in the program’s history. She remains committed to empowering her gymnasts to hone their skills — on the mat and in the classroom — and to define their own team culture.

While there was not an official award ceremony this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are plans to celebrate 2020 and 2021 award winners virtually.

“We believe the world changes when human beings dedicate themselves to the betterment of something wider than their immediate surroundings,” says Brittany Nefcy, co-chair of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women. “Celebrating those succeeding in this work sets a cultural standard for deconstructing systemic oppression, challenging bias and uplifting one another.”