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STEM workshop set to advance women, minorities

By

Margaret Coulombe

Winter graduation deadlines have spurred a flurry of doctoral thesis defenses in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). However, for many women and students from underrepresented minorities, the academic pathway from thesis defense to postdoctoral fellowship to faculty appointment in STEM is one of attrition, regardless of scientific aptitude.

Seeking to combat the loss of diversity in STEM fields, a team from Arizona State University led by Page Baluch, the manager of the W.M. Keck Bioimaging Facility in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has developed a “Forward to Professorship” workshop, to be held at ASU’s Memorial Union on the Tempe campus, January 21-22, 2011.

The two-day workshop is intended to provide a range of individuals, most especially women and minorities, access to training, resources and network support to bolster success in obtaining and reaching tenure in STEM academic faculty positions. The deadline for applications is Jan. 1.

“Even in fields such as biomedicine, where enrollment in graduate schools approaches 55 percent, you’ll find the number of women reaching full professorship is commonly less than 20 percent,” says Baluch. “This says nothing about those fields where enrollment of women and minorities in advanced degree programs starts out substantially lower. We want to help reverse this trend.”  

Baluch, who is also a board member of the Central Arizona Chapter of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS), says that those who could benefit most from this workshop are postdoctoral fellows searching for positions, individuals in academic contract positions, individuals in industry interested in entering academia and doctoral students nearing completion of their Ph.D. or searching for positions. Seats are limited, so she encourages applicants to apply soon.

The workshop’s speakers include an array of educational leaders and researchers, including ASU’s President Michael Crow, Duane Roen, assistant vice provost for University Academic Success Programs; Tamara Deuser, assistant vice president, Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development; Robert Page, dean of the School of Life Sciences; Bianca Bernstein, a professor with the School of Letters and Sciences and creator of the CareerWISE and ASU Regents’ Professor Jane Maienschein, director of the Center for Biology and Society and CASE and Carnegie Institute’s Arizona Professor of the Year for 2010.

Guest speakers featured are Elizabeth Gould, professor of psychology, Princeton University; Joan Herbers, president of the national AWIS and professor, University of Ohio; Stephen Lee, program director, U.S. Army Research Office; and Elizabeth Pennisi, reporter and editor with Science magazine. These experts, along with other accomplished ASU scientists and educators, will focus on topics such as funding, teaching, laboratory management, negotiation, writing and effective communication. (Download a PDF of the tentative program: http://sols.asu.edu/rti/pdf/...)

The Forward to Professorship program is sponsored by the Central Arizona Chapter of AWIS, Arizona State University and the Forward to Professorship team at George Washington, Gallaudet and Ottawa Universities, funded by a National Science Foundation ADVANCE grant. More information: page.baluch@asu.edu,480-727-0725