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What You Need To Know About Becoming An Academic In Engineering: A Woman's Point Of View

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

New Faculty Issues and Concerns

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1421.1 - 9.1421.9



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Mary Anderson-Rowland

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3675

What You Need to Know about Becoming an Academic in Engineering: A Woman’s Point of View

Mary R. Anderson-Rowland Arizona State University


An academic career offers many advantages: choice of research area, choice of teaching style, flexibility in scheduling, a new start each semester, options on how the summer is spent, working with really great people, and after tenure, job stability, to name a few. Academia is an opportunity to help people directly, to be able to see the “light bulb turn on,” to be a mentor, to be a role model.

The academic profession also has some disadvantages. There are areas of academia that are frightening, not the least of which is struggling to achieve “tenure.” There may also be a perception of boredom, repetition, and that academia is either a very easy profession or a very difficult one in terms of hours and effort required.

The author will give her perceptions of what she has learned over more than three decades of serving in academia, including being the first female faculty member on an engineering faculty. Factors such as a sense of humor, “getting it in writing,” and a sense of satisfaction in knowing that you made a difference will be discussed. The career/family balance will also be examined.

I. Introduction

My mother was a teacher (grades 1-8) before she married and had children. I had decided by age six to be a teacher (better than a nurse or a secretary, I reasoned), so then I only had to decide what I would teach and at what level. In first grade I wanted to be a first grade teacher. As a second grader I went back and corrected papers of the first graders. As I progressed to each grade, I wanted to teach at that level. I soon saw the pattern and concluded that I would want to teach in college. In high school I knew that I wanted to get a Ph.D. to give me the most options for a teaching career. By the end of high school I narrowed my major choices to English or mathematics. I considered mathematics because my high school teacher had urged me to take a third year of math. I did not take mathematics my sophomore year because the sophomore girls’ basketball team had gym together that hour and practiced. During my senior year, as I first took a trigonometry class by myself and then joined the six boys in that class in the spring, I realized that math had always been easy and I sort of liked it, so maybe that is what I should study. In college I chose the mathematics over English because I liked my mathematics instructors, and other freshmen in my residence house were majoring in mathematics. In graduate school, I chose statistics as my area of interest because, again, I liked the faculty. I did not use a very rational system to decide to major in statistics, but it is a decision I have never regretted.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Anderson-Rowland, M. (2004, June), What You Need To Know About Becoming An Academic In Engineering: A Woman's Point Of View Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13598

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