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Recruitment and Retention

March 15, 2008

Recruitment and retention of women was a hot topic at the 2008 LPSC Women’s Networking Breakfast.  The problem?  Not enough women are making it through the pipeline from graduate school to full professorship (or the equivalent).

Some facts brought up in the discussion: AGU membership is 23% female.  GSA membership is 23% female.  And yet, according to the AIP/APS, only 5-10% of all full professors nationwide are female.  (These statistics have not been verified; would someone please comment with a confirming source?)  Although these fields are somewhat mixed, the point remains.  Women are still not making it through the pipeline to full professor at equivalent percentages to their male colleagues.  There was a recent article in Nature discussing this very point, comparing data from 20 years ago and today.  There also have been studies done by the AIP and AGU (discussion of these studies, methodologies, and/or results would make excellent topics for future blog posts).

Ideas fell into three main categories:

1. More women on review panels, award panels, and organizing committees.  Both the service and the results may help increase women’s confidence in their own abilities.  The point was also made that these panels should consider the quality of work more strongly than the sheer number of publications.  This may help level the playing field, particularly in the case of women or early career men who may take time off to care for young families or aging parents.

2. NASA grant programs for (female) faculty at small colleges, adjuncts, early career scientists, and women returning to work after an absence.  It was pointed out that there is a vehicle for the last two: the NASA Early Career Fellowships are open to all planetary scientists who have worked less than seven years since their Ph.D.  The seven years do not have to be consecutive.  Therefore, they can be used as a type of re-entry grant for mothers or fathers returning to work after, say, five years as a postdoc and five years at home.  There is no program specifically for women at small colleges, serving as adjuncts, or in other non-R1 placements.

3.  Responsibility of departments to limit the number of entering graduate students because the number of positions is so few and senior faculty are not consistently retiring at age 65.

The committee table noted one very encouraging fact:  all six of the recipients of LPI’s new Career Development Award (travel grant to LPSC) this year were women.  Congratulations to them all!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. susanniebur permalink*
    March 16, 2008 2:55 pm

    It seems to me that it should be relatively easy to increase the number of women on NASA review panels … program scientists are always looking for new people to serve. Would there be interest in this group composing a list of women post-Ph.D. who would like to be called for one or more review panels each year?

    We would need to collect the following information: name, institution, email address, research area (for example: spectroscopy of comets, lunar mineralogy, asteroid ponding), and possible R&A programs that would be appropriate. Feel free to send this information to me if you’d like to serve on review panels or committees and have your information forwarded to Headquarters as part of such a list.


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