June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
26.1247.1 - 26.1247.11
Preparing Female Engineering Doctoral Students for the Academic Job Market through a Training Program Inspired by Peer Review Yanfen Li, Danielle J. Mai, Elizabeth M. Horstman, 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 The ‘leakypipeline’ of women in STEM fields remains an ongoing discussion, with potential causesincluding student impressions of work-life balance in academia, a lack of role models inengineering, and decreased self-confidence following a doctoral degree. The GraduateCommittee of the Society of Women Engineers (GradSWE) at the University of Illinois atUrbana-Champaign has launched a program to specifically target the gender gap in engineeringby improving the strength of faculty position applications from female doctoral students. TheIllinois Female Engineers in Academic Training (iFEAT) is a multi-month program designed tostrengthen the applications of female faculty candidates. Specifically, iFEAT providesinformational resources for prospective faculty candidates through seminars and paneldiscussions, followed by peer review groups for students to share and review applicationmaterials. iFEAT aims to address several causes of the ‘leaky pipeline’ by increasing candidateconfidence, introducing students to role models, and changing student perceptions of academiclife. The program also aims to foster a supportive community through increased traineeinteractions with faculty and peers. The peer review groups also provide opportunities fortrainees to learn from each other, find mentors, and establish future relationships. Twelve female doctoral students were selected as iFEAT trainees based on theiracademic record, standing in their graduate program, and demonstrated commitment toacademia. Surveys administered at the beginning, mid-point, and end of the program requesttrainees to self-report their aspirations and intentions for the academic job search, the progress oftheir application materials, and their confidence level in the application process. We seek toquantify any changes in the trainees’ goals, perceived preparation levels, and confidence levelsthroughout the program. As trainees progress through iFEAT and gain information about theapplication process, we will note shifts in perception of the most challenging and most importantcomponents of the application process. We will also monitor any changes in trainee careeraspirations, including candidates’ preferred type(s) of institutions and academic positions, plansto conduct postdoctoral research, and anticipated application timeline. Trainees are also given theoption to participate in a post-program interview, which is intended to uncover the reasoningbehind any confirmations of or major changes in career plans and perceptions. Ultimately, weseek to track student outcomes from the program and uncover factors that may contribute to orprevent the ‘leaky pipeline’ of female engineers in academia.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/.
Li, Y., & Mai, D. J., & Horstman, E., & Bhargava, R. (2015, June), Preparing Female Engineering Doctoral Students for the Academic Job Market Through a Training Program Inspired by Peer Review Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24584
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