Encouraging Women in Industry to Apply for Faculty Jobs

1/31/11

Over the years, I noticed that we’d hired some terrific faculty at the University of Washington who came directly from industry. These faculty members have quickly gotten up to speed, and they’ve loved their new academic careers.

It occurred to me that this would be a great way to get more women faculty in science, technology, engineering and math. The result is a unique workshop, funded by the National Science Foundation, called On-Ramps into Academia. The goal is to help women researchers who hold PhDs in science, engineering or math apply for academic jobs.

If you’re a woman working in government or industry and you haven’t already considered an academic career, here are some reasons that you should:

You’re your own boss. You get to work on what you want, provided you can find funding.

You get to drive your own research agenda. If something seems interesting to you, you can go work on it. You don’t have to run it by a boss.

Tenure. The economy has proven that tenure is a value and unique asset.

Teaching. If you don’t think that you would love teaching, then a faculty position is probably not the right thing for you. Teaching is hard work, but rewarding and a lot of fun. If you want to have an impact on diversifying the workforce, it’s an opportunity to mentor students and change the climate of the university compared to when you were there. And if people helped you in your career, this is a chance to give back.

The opportunity to collaborate with students. You get to work with some of the brightest young people in the country. The bar keeps going up — the students just keep getting more amazing. You can really feel the impact of your work because you’re helping to shape these students’ futures.

The opportunity to collaborate with other faculty. A campus has some incredibly impressive people with whom you can collaborate, and work on things that you may never have dreamed of.

Flexible schedules. People joke that you can pick the 70 hours a week that you work. But because you’re your own boss you can pick and choose your hours, giving you the opportunity to manage your own time and schedule.

Pass on expertise. Your practical and real-world experience from industry will be really valuable when teaching, research and mentoring students.

The best candidate for making the transition to academia is someone who … Next Page »

Eve Riskin is a Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Washington, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in the UW’s College of Engineering, and Director of the UW’s ADVANCE Center for Institutional Change. Follow @

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  • tom horbett

    nice effort by our excellent associate dean