Essay on how grad students and postdocs should prepare for career help


So you are a grad student or postdoc who hasn't visited the career center? Michael Matrone tells you how to get ready.

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Essay on what to ask when it's your turn for questions in an academic job interview

Melissa Dennihy reviews what to ask and what not to ask a search committee during an interview.

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Colleges award tenure

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The following individuals have recently been awarded tenure by their colleges and universities:

Alma College

  • Marcus Richter, library science

Cabrini College

  • Caroline Nielsen, biology
  • Melinda Harrison, chemistry


Florida State Rescinds Job Offer to Fired Professor

Florida State University has rescinded a visiting professor job offer to Travis Pratt, who was fired last year by Arizona State University for a romantic relationship with a graduate student, The Tallahassee Democrat reported. The action came the day after the newspaper asked the university if it was aware of why Pratt had left Arizona State. Florida State officials said that Pratt's job offer had been contingent on a background check. An e-mail sent to the newspaper by Florida State said: "Travis Pratt is not an employee of Florida State University and will not be. His employment offer was contingent upon the completion of a full background check. That review provided new information to the university that revealed a more complete account of his employment record and cause for termination at Arizona State University in 2014.” Pratt declined to comment.


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Unnamed Adjunct Behind National Walkout Day Isn't Hiding Her Identity Anymore

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Leah Griesmann, who came up with the idea for National Adjunct Walkout Day, isn't hiding her identity anymore. So what does she think about last week's protests, and about what's next for adjunct activism?

After Threats Against Faculty, Kalamazoo Adds Security

Kalamazoo College has heightened security after someone anonymously posted a comment in a Web discussion area that made threats against faculty members, MLive reported. The threat, which officials said was racist, anti-Semitic, sexist and homophobic, said that killing faculty members would demonstrate the value of allowing concealed weapons on campus. The threat said that on March 5, "I am going to start systematically executing faculty at Kalamazoo U, that will teach them the value of campus carry."


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Essay on staying healthy on a crowded campus


Eszter Hargittai shares tips, realizing that academics can't isolate themselves from people, some of whom will be sneezing and coughing.

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Why Academic Job Listings Data Matter

Academics on the job market pay a lot of attention to disciplinary societies’ job listings, but just how useful are those data? Are they really an accurate snapshot of the market? A new analysis posted on the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Data Forum and accompanying commentary from Ronald G. Ehrenberg, the Irving M. Ives Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations and Economics and director of the Higher Education Research Institute at Cornell University, suggest that they are. You can read the academy’s analysis -- which shows that job listings in most humanities fields are down at least 30 percent since their peak in 2007-08 -- along with Ehrenberg’s thoughts on why these numbers (while flawed) matter here.

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Controversial Climate Change Scientist Defends Work

Wei-Hock Soon, a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, issued a statement Monday defending his work, which has been under sharp attack, The New York Times reported. Soon has published articles and spoken out questioning the scientific consensus that climate change is real. A previous Times article noted that he has received extensive financial support from the fossil fuel industry, but has not reported that financial connection in his journal articles, even though many of the journals require such disclosure.

In his statement, Soon attacked his critics. “This effort should be seen for what it is: a shameless attempt to silence my scientific research and writings, and to make an example out of me as a warning to any other researcher who may dare question in the slightest their fervently held orthodoxy," he said.


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Essay calls for ending the 'leaky pipeline' metaphor when discussing women in science

For decades, debates about gender and science have often assumed that women are more likely than men to “leak” from the science and engineering pipeline after entering college.

However, new research of which I am the coauthor shows this pervasive leaky pipeline metaphor is wrong for nearly all postsecondary pathways in science and engineering. It also devalues students who want to use their technical training to make important societal contributions elsewhere.

How could the metaphor be so wrong? Wouldn’t factors such as cultural beliefs and gender bias cause women to leave science at higher rates?

My research, published last month in Frontiers in Psychology, shows this metaphor was at least partially accurate in the past. The bachelor’s-to-Ph.D. pipeline in science and engineering leaked more women than men among college graduates in the 1970's and 80's, but not recently.

Men still outnumber women among Ph.D. earners in fields like physical science and engineering. However, this representation gap stems from college major choices, not persistence after college. 

Other research finds remaining persistence gaps after the Ph.D. in life science, but surprisingly not in physical science or engineering -- fields in which women are more underrepresented. Persistence gaps in college are also exaggerated.

Consequently, this commonly used metaphor is now fatally flawed. As blogger Biochembelle discussed, it can also unfairly burden women with guilt about following paths they want. “It’s almost as if we want women to feel guilty about leaving the academic track,” she said.

Some depictions of the metaphor even show individuals funneling into a drain, never to make important contributions elsewhere.

In reality, many students who leave the traditional boundaries of science and engineering use their technical training creatively in other fields such as health, journalism and politics.

As one recent commentary noted, Margaret Thatcher and Angela Merkel were leaks in the science pipeline. I dare someone to claim that they funneled into a drain because they didn’t become tenured science professors. No takers? Didn’t think so.

Men also frequently leak from the traditional boundaries of science and engineering, as my research and other studies show. So why do we unfairly stigmatize women who make such transitions?

By some accounts, I’m a leak myself. I earned my bachelor’s degree in the “hard” science of physics before moving into psychology. Even though I’m male, I still encountered stigma when peers told me psychology was a “soft” science or not even science at all. I can only imagine the stigma that women might face when making similar transitions.

The U.S. needs more women and men who use their technical skills to improve social good. Last summer, I participated in a program to help students do just that -- it was the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Data Science for Social Good Summer Fellowship.

For this fellowship, I worked with two computer science graduate students and one bioengineering postdoc on a “big data” project for improving student success in high school. We partnered with Montgomery Public County Schools in Maryland to improve their early warning system. This system used warning signs such as declining grades to identify students who could benefit from additional supports.

This example shows why the leaky pipeline narrative is so absurd. Many leaks in the pipeline continue using their technical skills in important ways. For instance, my team’s data science skills helped improve our partner’s warning system, doubling performance in some cases.

Let’s abandon this inaccurate and pejorative metaphor. It unfairly stigmatizes women and perpetuates outdated assumptions.

Some have argued that my research indicates bad news because the gender gaps in persistence were closed by declines for men, not increases for women. However, others have noted how the findings could also be good news, given concerns about Ph.D. overproduction.

More importantly, this discussion of good news and bad news misses the point: the new data inform a new way forward.

By abandoning exclusive focus on the leaky pipeline metaphor, we can focus more effort on encouraging diverse students to join these fields in the first place. Helping lead the way forward, my alma mater -- Harvey Mudd College -- has had impressive success in encouraging women to pursue computer science.

Maria Klawe, Mudd’s first female president, led extensive efforts to make the introductory computer science courses more inviting to diverse students. For instance, course revisions emphasized how computational approaches can help solve pressing societal problems.

The results were impressive. Although women used to earn only 10 percent of Mudd’s computer science degrees, this number quadrupled over the years after Klawe became president. To help replicate these results more widely, we should abandon outdated assumptions and instead help students take diverse paths into science.

David Miller is an advanced doctoral student in psychology at Northwestern University. His current research aims to understand why some students move into and out of science and engineering fields.


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