Jul 6, 2015 | Atlanta, GA
More than 40 Georgia Tech graduate students and postdoctoral fellows recently attended the 2015 Future Faculty Workshop. Organized by Institute Diversity and supported by the Henry Luce Foundation, the workshop focused on preparing women for faculty positions while still achieving work-life balance.
Several female Georgia Tech faculty and staff members served as presenters and mentors, as well as faculty members from Emory University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. In addition to work-life balance, the speakers addressed the varying expectations at different institutions, developing mentors, becoming a published author, teaching, and obtaining research funding.
“This workshop was important because there are not many events that focus on the topic of work-life balance,” said Nancy Healy, director of the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network Education and Outreach Office in the Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology. “Women at Georgia Tech need role models.”
The Future Faculty Workshop was the eighth event in a series started by Tim Swager of Massachusetts Institute of Technology seven years ago. Georgia Tech previously hosted one in the series in 2013, but this was the first Future Faculty Workshop that focused on women and work-life balance.
“I am hoping to pursue a faculty position, and this workshop was helpful in addressing how you can be successful while taking time for yourself and negotiating what you want,” said Denise Okafor, Ph.D. student in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
Some takeaways from the day included how to manage expectations, such as setting reasonable response times to communications; balancing a passion for your work with a priority for self-care; and considering why you have chosen academia — are you in it to get tenure, or for all that this long-term career entails?
In total, 28 female graduate students and 17 female postdoctoral fellows attended the 2015 workshop, representing the Colleges of Architecture, Computing, Engineering, and Sciences.
“It was rewarding to see so many women considering careers in academia,” said Rosario Gerhardt, executive director for Institute research and collaborations at Institute Diversity and organizer of the workshop. “The event’s focus on women came out of discussions from the previous Future Faculty Workshop held at Georgia Tech in 2013, when several participants asked if we would consider topics on work-life balance.”
Funding for the event came from the Henry Luce Foundation’s Clare Boothe Luce Program, which supports women in fields that continue to be underrepresented. In the past two academic years, two Ph.D. students from Georgia Tech — Sarah Cannon in the College of Computing and Alexandra Long in the College of Engineering — were also supported by the Clare Boothe Luce Program.