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Movin’ On Up -- Negotiating the Ideal Faculty Position

Module by: Rice ADVANCE. E-mail the author

Summary: The keynote talk given by Nancy W. Dickey, MD at the 2009 NSF ADVANCE Workshop: Negotiating the Ideal Faculty Position.

Late 19th Century

Hampered in large part by the theories of Harvard professor Edward H. Clarke (1874): “women seeking advanced education would develop "monstrous brains and puny bodies… [and] abnormally weak digestion.”

As Mary Putnam Jacobi wrote (1891), “It is perfectly evident from the records, that the opposition to women physicians has rarely been based upon any sincere conviction that women could not be instructed in medicine, but upon an intense dislike to the idea that they should be so capable.”

And is it gone now?

Current Status

  • Fewer women faculty and fewer women faculty at the highest ranks
  • Women scientists are less likely to attain distinguished positions
    • Memberships in distinguished societies
    • Highest administrative roles
  • Attrition begins after bachelor’s degree and continues throughout careers

Pink Collarization

A fist clutching money stands out from the collar of a pink shirt.

The Pearson Product Moment correlation

Medical Wage Equity for coefficient for these figures is -.757 (p < .05) indicating an extremely high correlation between high income and low female participation in medical specialties for physicians.

Occupational Segregation

Occupational segregation by gender within the medical subpopulation can be defined as the differences in the distribution across medical specialties by males and females.

Rank order of the top 3 specialties with respect to mean salary INVERSELY corresponds to the ranking by percent of females within the specialties.
[American Medical Association report (Randolph, Seidman, & Pasko, 1997)]

Change: The Province for All

A road sign that says 'Success'.
  • Things we should expect students/junior faculty to learn/do
  • Things the administration should do
  • Barriers that require structural or philosophic change

There are many routes...

A complicated highway junction
  • Traditional, non-traditional, purely serendipity
  • Virtually all will have acquired a skill set along the way

What we should expect junior faculty to do

Montage of pictures of faculty faces.
  • Practice expressing yourself – don’t defer when you have something to say
    • Master the art of public speaking
  • Learn from every venue and record lessons and how they might be applied
    • As more programs are looking to expand and enhance the role of women, your ability to sell that you have done it, you have seen it done and are ready to replicate it…

First Steps

  • Excellent skills & competencies
  • Remain open to serendipity & opportunity
    • Grab the opportunities that come along
    • Courage to step out on a limb
      • “Oh, no…I don’t have the qualifications”
  • Learn the social and political aspects of academics
    • Learn the mechanics of successful careers
  • Hard work is essential

Networking

  • Develop leadership skills & relationships with those who have those skills
    • Those who have powerful titles
    • Those who have personal power
  • Lack of social and professional connections available to most women
    • Ability to call and ask for advice – especially from those in power
    • Establish a personal network and use it
  • Creating women’s networking opportunities
    • Share stories, tactics, strategies for success

Leadership

  • Be passionate about an issue
  • Definition: ability to influence a situation
  • Learn your strengths and play to them
  • Have integrity – be faithful to your values
  • Attitude is important

It's THEIR/OUR Problem Too

  • Attrition of women means fewer senior level individuals from which to create a leadership team
    • We cannot leave 50% of the intellect & energy on the table
  • Recruiting and retaining women in science and engineering is a challenge of administrators
    • 16 NSF ADVANCE grant successes
    • Outlining the biggest “bang for the buck” examples of success
    • NSF Visiting Professorships for Women

Institutional Barriers: Changes Needed

  • Academic Practices
    • Token overload – a handful of women & we want diversity on every committee
  • Academic Attitudes
    • Presumed meritocratic and gender-free
    • Power imbalance - work twice as hard to be thought half as good
    • Deleterious effects on women sometimes hidden behind a neutral or even positive façade erected on achievements of a handful of exceptional women
      • Some successful women deny existence of obstacles in their path

Institutional Change

A bucket with crabs crawling out.
  • Departmental change
    • Family friendly
    • Appropriate networking & mentoring
  • Curricular change
    • Modify class offerings to become identification of promising individuals and mentoring toward success vs. historic “weed out” programs

What junior faculty can expect mentors and leaders to do...

  • Create/enhance networking opportunities
  • To answer questions and provide advice
  • Encourage/provide support for mentors
    • Be mentors
  • Use “advocates” such that a particular person is responsible for encouraging/assisting
    • Might be part of the recruitment process? You want her… how will you support her?

How to make change happen...

  • Virtually always takes commitment from the senior leadership
  • Can be implemented by a skillful committed department chair
  • Can be driven/initiated by faculty/student grassroots efforts
  • Often it is piecemeal and spotty but ultimately pieces come together
  • TOGETHER, WE CAN CREATE A NEW TOMORROW

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