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Demystifying The Faculty Search Process: Increasing Women's Pursuit Of Academic Careers Through Knowledge And Networking

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Mentoring Graduate Students

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.354.1 - 13.354.8



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Paper Authors


Jan Rinehart Rice University

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Jan Rinehart is Executive Director of the ADVANCE Program at Rice University. The goals of the ADVANCE program are to increase the number of women faculty in science, engineering, and mathematics at all levels of leadership, and change the institutional climate. Prior to assuming this position, she served as the Deputy Director of the Space Engineering Institute for two years and the Director of Engineering Student Programs at Texas A&M University. She initiated the Women in Engineering program in 1994 and served as WEPAN (Women in Engineering Programs and Advocates Network) President from 2002-2003. She received her M.S. in Higher Education Administration from Texas A&M University and a B.S. in secondary education from Abilene Christian University.

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Sherry Woods University of Texas at Austin

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Sherry E. Woods, Ed.D., is Director of Special Projects in the College of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. Her responsibilities include promoting the Collegs faculty development and continuous improvement efforts. Prior to assuming this position in 2001, she served as Director of the Women in Engineering Program at UT Austin for over six years.

Dr. Woods received her B.A. in Social Science/Women’s Studies from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, her M.Ed. in Educational Administration from Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts, and her Ed.D. in Instructional Leadership from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

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Rebecca Richards-Kortum Rice University

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Rebecca Richards-Kortum is the Stanley C. Moore Professor and Chair of Bioengineering at Rice University. Previously, she held the Cockrell Family Chair in Engineering #10 and was a Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, where she was also a Distinguished Teaching Professor. After receiving a B.S. in Physics and Mathematics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1985, she continued her graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she received an MS in Physics in 1987 and a PhD in Medical Physics in 1990. That same year, she began her academic career at The University of Texas in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department as an Assistant Professor, (1990), Associate Professor (1995) and Professor (1999). She joined the Department of Biomedical Engineering at UT Austin when it formed in 2001.

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Demystifying the Faculty Search Process: Increasing Women’s Pursuit of Academic Careers through Knowledge and Networking Abstract

The under-representation of women and U.S. ethnic minorities in science, technology, mathematics, and engineering (STEM) is a well established fact. There are numerous studies that disclose reasons for this under-representation at all steps along the academic process. In response to this research and in the interest of bridging the Ph.D. and postdoctoral scholar steps into an academic career, the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, the George R. Brown School of Engineering at Rice University, and the Wiess School of Natural Sciences at Rice University in Houston, Texas have designed and hosted workshops since October 2004 entitled, Negotiating the Ideal Faculty Position. The workshops at Rice University are funded through a National Science Foundation (NSF) ADVANCE institutional transformation grant. At each of these workshops, a national invitation was extended and 350- 730 women responded with applications. This level of response clearly demonstrates the interest in the topic and, at the same time, the lack of information available to women in their local institutions.

One to three follow-up surveys have been completed by the workshop participants. The longitudinal data show that these workshops have had a strong impact on the participants’ career paths, with a high percentage pursuing (and succeeding in) academic careers.

The workshops have three goals:

1. To provide critical information to female postdoctoral scholars and Ph.D. students about the academic career application process. 2. To provide information to women in STEM about academic careers and encourage them to pursue this career. 3. To give the departmental faculty an "early" look at women in their departmental fields so they have a chance to recruit highly qualified women to faculty positions.

The third goal provides one of the most interesting questions for universities interested in diversifying their faculty. What models of recruiting are most effective and how can we change our “search committees” from “envelope opening” to true “search” committees? Can workshops provide a model and not just be seen as another workshop to “fix” the women? Can a nationally accessible database of female postdoctoral scholars and Ph.D. students provide search committees with quality applicants? Will search committees use such a source to search for faculty candidates?

Negotiating the Ideal Faculty Position Workshop

The Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) developed a three-day, interactive workshop called, Negotiating the Ideal Faculty Position (NIFP), for female Ph.D. students (within two years of degree completion) and postdoctoral scholars interested in academic careers in engineering. This workshop was first offered in Fall 2004. The

Rinehart, J., & Woods, S., & Richards-Kortum, R. (2008, June), Demystifying The Faculty Search Process: Increasing Women's Pursuit Of Academic Careers Through Knowledge And Networking Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3958

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