On the Need for Paid Maternity Leave in the U.S.
Maternity leave policies in the U.S. are among the worst in the world. The 12 weeks of un-paid family leave that the U.S. grants are only surpassed by South Korea's 8 un-paid weeks as the worst treatment to mothers and newborns in the developed world. California is the only state in the U.S. where two programs exist, the State Disability Insurance (SDI) and Paid Family Leave (PFL), which cover up to $840/week for up to 12 weeks (excluding a waiting period of 7 un-paid days combined for both SDI and PFL). Even with these State contributions, the average parent of a newborn in California receives less than the 100% paid 6 weeks of Portugal and the 100% paid 12 weeks of Mexico, with all other countries providing better treatment. For mothers and fathers, time at home during the first precious months after birth or adoption is critical to getting to know their babies. It can provide long-term benefits that improve a child's brain development, social development and overall well being. Parental leave results in better prenatal and postnatal care and more intense parental bonding over a child's life. It also improves the chance that a child will be immunized; as a result, it is associated with lower death rates for infants. But lawmakers and employers are denying those benefits to most families by refusing to provide paid parental leave. For some families, the economic burden of caring for a newborn alone results in financial hardship or ruin. Fortunately, about 12% of companies in the U.S. voluntarily choose to offer some sort of paid and/or longer maternity and family care leaves. Some companies offer on-site child care as a way to facilitate breastfeeding and bonding between new mothers and their babies. Other companies allow new parents to reduce their work schedule temporarily and to telecommute from their homes, both effective ways to guarantee work productivity without requiring the sacrifice of a newborn's right to better health through breastfeeding and bonding with its parents.
Rethinking the Meaning of Success in Academia: Strategies of a Female Scientist from a Far – Away Land
Earning and receiving tenure is essential for success in academia and there are obstacles, particularly for women in the sciences. Scholarly publications and formal reviews from peers and students make the road to tenure and promotion ambiguous and unpredictable. As a female scientist, I benefited from my upbringing in Turkey where women are raised to perceive themselves as both empowered and strong. Several recent studies on academicians in physics have shown that while in countries like Turkey, former Yugoslavia, Slovenia and Poland female scientists make up 20% or more of college faculty, they hold only 5% or less of faculty positions in universities in western Europe and the United States. Similar statistics prevail in earth science and geology departments world wide and will be discussed in my presentation. I also developed several strategies that helped me on the road to tenure, which I believe may have use to others—my part of this session will be to explain them more fully. They are:  Concentrate on your work, and do not be distracted by the multiple drains on time and energy such as competition with peers;  Wherever possible, develop a broader definition of "success," so that collaborations with other scientists, with students, and with the general public are valued;  Build your department by participating in searches and interviewing job candidates;  Seek colleagues who share your values about leadership and collegiality; and  Be confident about your own competence.
Lessons Learned About Recruiting and Retention of a Diverse Faculty During 5 Years of the University of Michigan ADVANCE Program
The University of Michigan obtained funding from the NSF ADVANCE Program for 2001-2006 to devise and implement strategies to improve representation and climate for its tenure-track women faculty in the natural sciences departments and the College of Engineering. This project was launched with a campus-wide survey to pinpoint problem areas, followed by the appointment of a committee of senior faculty now known as "Science and Technology Recruiting to Improve Diversity and Excellence" or STRIDE to provide information and advice about practices that will maximize the likelihood that well-qualified female and minority candidates for faculty positions will be identified, and, if selected for offers, recruited, retained, and promoted. This presentation will review the lessons learned and progress made during the 5-year period of NSF funding which ended in December 2006. It will also cover the steps taken to institutionalize the UM ADVANCE Program with financial support from the Provost's Office for the next 5 years, and the challenges and opportunities presented by Michigan's Proposition 2 to ban Affirmative Action programs. In its present form, the UM ADVANCE Program now has the mandate to address issues concerning both gender and underrepresented minorities, and also to engage all academic departments in the University, not only those in the STEM fields. As a result, the acronym STRIDE has been changed to mean Strategies and Tactics for Recruiting to Improve Diversity and Excellence. A case will be made that the institutional transformations underway at UM allow greater administrative success, particularly for women and underrepresented minorities.
Growing Your Career through Volunteering and Leadership
From giving your first paper at a scientific meeting to chairing committees that make multi-million dollar decisions, scientific organizations provide critical opportunities for growing your career. Many organizations support student activities by providing travel grants and fellowships - an important first step towards joining the larger scientific community. Beyond these standard opportunities, organizations also provide opportunities for students interested in gaining leadership experience, a skill not typically acquired in graduate science programs. For example, the Consortium for Leadership's Schlanger Ocean Drilling Fellowship provides research funds to graduate students, but also introduces the fellows to the communication skills needed to become successful members of their scientific community. Beyond student opportunities, volunteering provides mid-career and established scientists further experience in leadership. Opportunities exist in advising government science policy, guiding large-scale research programs, organizing large scientific meetings, and serving on non-profit boards. The variety of volunteer and leadership opportunities that are available give scientists at all stages of their career a chance to expand and diversify their experience, leading to new successes. http://www.joiscience.org/usssp/schlanger
The Benefits of Peer-to-Peer Mentoring: Lessons from The Earth Science Women's Network (ESWN)
The Earth Science Women's Network (ESWN) is a grassroots organization that began with the meeting of six women graduate students and recent Ph.D.s at the Spring 2002 AGU meeting in Washington, DC. Since then, the group has grown to over 400 members, completely by word of mouth. We provide an informal, peer-to-peer network developed to promote and support careers of women in the Earth sciences. Through the network, women have found jobs, established research collaborations, shared strategies on work/life balance, and built a community stretching around the world. We maintain an email list for members to develop an expanded peer network outside of their own institution, and we have recently launched a co-ed jobs list to benefit the wider geoscience community. We will present a summary of strategies that have been discussed by group members on how to transition to a new faculty position, build a research group, develop new research collaborations, and balance career and family.
Getting Started in Academic Careers: On the Cutting Edge Resources for Graduate Students, Postdoctoral Fellows, and Early Career Faculty
The professional development program,'On the Cutting Edge', offers on-line resources and annual multi-day workshops for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows interested in pursuing academic careers. Pre- workshop surveys reveal that early career faculty, post-docs, and graduate students have many questions about teaching (e.g., what are effective teaching strategies, how to design a course, how to prepare a syllabus, how to teach large courses), research (e.g., initiate and fund future research, set up and manage a lab, obtain equipment), and career management (e.g., understand tenure requirements, balance all it all). The graduate students and post-docs also have questions about jobs and the job search process. Their questions show a lack of familiarity with the nature of academic positions at different kinds of educational institutions (two-year colleges, primarily undergraduate institutions, and research universities). In particular, they are uncertain about what educational setting will best fit their values and career goals and how teaching loads and research expectations vary by institution. Common questions related to the job search process include where to find job listings (the most common question in recent years), when to start the job search process, how to stand out as an applicant, and how to prepare for interviews. Both groups have questions about how to develop new skills: how to develop, plan and prepare a new course (without it taking all of their time), how to expand beyond their PhD (or postdoc) research projects, how to develop a research plan, and where to apply for funding. These are important topics for advisors to discuss with all of their students and postdocs who are planning on careers in academia. On the Cutting Edge offers workshops and web resources to help current and future faculty navigate these critical stages of their careers. The four-day workshop for Early Career Geoscience Faculty: Teaching, Research, and Managing Your Career has been offered since 1999 and provides sessions on teaching strategies, course design, developing a strategic plan for research, supervising student researchers, navigating departmental and institutional politics, tenure, time and task management, and much more. The workshop, Preparing for an Academic Career in the Geosciences, has been offered since 2003 and provides a panel about academic careers in different institutional settings, session on research on learning, various teaching strategies, design of effective classroom activities, moving research forward to new settings, negotiation, and presenting oneself to others. Participants in both workshops have many opportunities to talk informally with leaders and other participants. Assessment results indicate that the workshops are helpful for both current and future faculty. Participants particularly appreciate the practical ideas and the opportunity to interact with, and learn from, a diverse leadership team and other participants. Two on-line resource collections provides information in these areas useful for students, post-docs, early career faculty and advisors. http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops
Suggestions on how to do Successful Science and Contribute to the Broader Aims of Science Policy
I would like make the following suggestions to early career scientists, especially if they want they want to contribute to science policy. First of all it is important that they first establish a reputation in their respective fields by the normal method of publishing papers and giving presentations at scientific meetings. They should become involved in the scientific societies by volunteering for committees and helping organize sessions at annual and specialized meetings. They should also develop a broader perspective of their field of research and be willing to serve on committees dealing with science priorities, science education, and science policy. I plan to cite my experience as well as others as examples of what can be done.