June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Women in Engineering
26.88.1 - 26.88.10
A Program for Graduate Women in Engineering Pursuing Academic Careers (iFEAT: Illinois Female Engineers in Academia Training) Elizabeth M. Horstman, Danielle J. Mai, Yanfen Li, Rohit Bhargava According to data collected by the National Science Foundation, women were conferredroughly 40% of doctoral degrees in STEM fields from 2002-2012, yet in 2010, womenaccounted for only 27% of tenure-track assistant professorships in engineering.1 While thegender gap in STEM fields remains an ongoing discussion,2-4 programs that provide resourcesand support for female engineering doctoral students interested in pursuing academic careersmay help to address this gap. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign regularly hostsseminars and afternoon-long workshops for doctoral students to learn about the academic jobapplication process. Although these seminars and workshops are effective at disseminatinginformation, they do little to encourage students to seriously consider, prepare for, and apply tofaculty positions. To address the aforementioned issue, the Graduate Committee of the Society ofWomen Engineers (GradSWE) at Illinois developed the Illinois Female Engineers in AcademiaTraining (iFEAT) program. iFEAT is a multi-month program with seminars and paneldiscussions, which are geared toward informing participants about the academic job applicationprocess, and independent peer review groups, which provide feedback on prepared applicationmaterials. Specific aims of iFEAT are for participants to demonstrate increased knowledge of thefaculty position application process, to prepare tangible application materials, and to increaseconfidence in their application packages. To ensure program development, iFEAT will be evaluated primarily based on program (i)content, (ii) format, (iii) pace, and (iv) climate. The program structure was designed to encouragecommunication and camaraderie among participants and faculty. Approximately every 3 weeks,students will attend a seminar or faculty panel discussion. Between each of these major events,student peer review groups will share and review application materials. Seminars will provideinformation about applying for a faculty position, tailoring cover letters to specific job postings,understanding (or developing) a teaching philosophy, applying for funding (transforming aresearch statement into a funding proposal), and determining ideal recommenders (learning tocultivate relationships with potential recommenders). Panel discussions will widen students’perspectives toward developing a unique research statement, understanding the interviewprocess, and negotiating a start-up package. Independent peer review groups will provide theprimary form of feedback on application materials. Near the end of the program, students will‘submit’ their application packages to a different peer group that will act as a ‘search committee.’All members of the ‘search committee’ will read other applicants’ packages and provideanonymous feedback to the applicants. This process will help students better understand howsearch committees operate, as well as broaden the scope of their teaching and researchstatements. At the end of iFEAT, students will have a peer-reviewed draft of applicationmaterials, as well as access to professors who support the development and advancement offemale faculty in engineering. Through iFEAT, we hope to increase the representation of womenin academia, as well as improve the competitiveness of Illinois graduates seeking academiccareers.References1. National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. 2013. Women, Minorities,and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering: 2013. Special Report NSF 13-304. Arlington, VA.Available at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/wmpd/.2. Rethink your gender attitudes. Nature Materials, 2014.3. Shen, H. Inequality quantified: Mind the gender gap. Nature, 2013.4. Moss-Racusin, C.A., et al., Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students. Proceedings of theNational Academy of Sciences, 2012.
Horstman, E., & Mai, D. J., & Li, Y., & Bhargava, R. (2015, June), A Program for Graduate Women in Engineering Pursuing Academic Careers (iFEAT: Illinois Female Engineers in Academia Training) Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23429
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