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The importance of the disciplinary society in leadership skill development and advancement

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Retaining and Developing Women Faculty in STEM

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1214.1 - 23.1214.10



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Paper Authors


Tamara Bush Michigan State University

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Dr. Tamara Reid Bush is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Michigan State University. Broadly, Dr. Bush’s area of research is whole-body biomechanics. She conducts in vivo experimentation, methods development, and modeling to better understand clinically motivated problems connected with human movement and force generation. The body regions of interest to Dr. Bush are the cervical spine, hands, and skin. Dr. Bush is also a Co-PI for MSU’s NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant. She was selected for the U.S. Bone and Joint Decade Young Investigator Program and is the recipient of the Michigan Campus Compact Award for her work on a rehabilitation tri-cycle for children.

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Laura J Genik Michigan State University

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Dr. Genik is part of the CoRe teaching faculty at Michigan State University and is widely recognized as a strong educator at the University. She teaches a broad range of courses in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Engineering Sciences at the undergraduate and graduate level as well as the CoRe Experience.

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The importance of the disciplinary society in leadership skill development and advancement Several opportunities arise in the disciplinary societies for both faculty and students tobegin to develop leadership skills. The importance of involvement in the disciplinary society notonly pertains to skill development, but also promotes an individual’s research expertise, canestablish national recognition, and provides opportunities for collaboration. The objectives of this work were to gather data, both in qualitative and quantitativeforms, regarding the importance of disciplinary society involvement. This work was supportedby an NSF ADVANCE grant; therefore, focus was given to women faculty in Science,Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) areas. Both survey data and focus group data were collected for this research. Survey data werecollected from female faculty at a research-based institution (R1) located in the Midwest.Survey questions addressed levels of involvement in societies, pros and cons of involvement,how involvement affected promotion, and differences (both positive and negative) betweenleadership in academia and the professional organization. Additional data were collectedthrough focus groups containing both male and female faculty in leadership positions. Theseparticipants were either in titled roles such as Dean, Assistant/Associate Dean, Chair, Director,or were faculty who held leadership positions in their disciplinary society or professionalorganization. Also, gender specific questions were asked regarding leadership opportunities,aspirations and mentoring for leadership. Results of the survey on disciplinary involvement indicated that there was no prescribedmethod for success and the time commitment/reward balance should always be evaluated.However, the female faculty indicated multiple benefits including networking with faculty atother institutions, establishing research collaborations, being aware of the latest standards in thefield and research topics, and providing the opportunity for leadership positions. It was noted thatthese opportunities for leadership were available for multiple individuals including graduatestudents and junior faculty. Leadership in the professional organization and disciplinary societies was deemed moredesirable, particularly by women. The disciplinary society was perceived as an opportunity totry leadership positions. In the society, flexibility was a positive, allowing movement in and outof positions as desired, whereas the titled roles on campus were not associated with thisflexibility. In the focus groups, the women agreed that having more women in administrativepositions might be a positive goal for the institution; everyone agreed that having only maleadministrators was undesirable. However, performing research (for individuals) and acquiringgrants (for units) were considered more positive and prestigious than doing administrative work.In other words, some participants challenged the assumption on which many of the focus groupquestions were predicated. Namely, that more women in leadership positions in STEMdisciplines is an unqualified good. Overall, the disciplinary society was viewed to have many positive associations, onebeing the ability to become involved in leadership positions and develop leadership skills.Disciplinary involvement has the potential to serve many roles throughout academicadvancement.

Bush, T., & Genik, L. J. (2013, June), The importance of the disciplinary society in leadership skill development and advancement Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22599

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