Career Culture and Diversity Subgroup Discussion


Challenges

  • Bias at both personal and institutional levels
    • (Pre grad to post grad) Implicit biases based on race, gender, sexuality, and socio-economic status keep people from becoming ecologists and excelling at it
    • A lack of emphasis on undergraduate teaching, particularly presenting material in accessible ways and fostering comfortable learning environments for underrepresented minorities 
  • Gaps in training and increasing expectations
    • Undergrad/Grad, not knowing the possibilities
      • A lack of emphasis on undergraduate teaching, particularly presenting material in accessible ways and fostering comfortable learning environments for underrepresented minorities 
      • Identifying and encouraging the pursuit of non-academic careers. For example, the individual development plan of AAAS doesn’t include a diverse selection on ecology specific career alternatives and advisors mostly encourage academic careers
    • Grad/Career, expectation to wear all the hats
      • Pre-career, Lack of training
        • Not enough training to handle the demands of a faculty position (social media, teaching skills, project management, writing grants, mentoring, interfacing with policy etc)
        • Lack of emphasis on interdisciplinary and collaborative training for graduate students. Already beginning to silo
        • Lack of support for work/life balance or broader discussion about how to negotiate for the job balance you want 
      • Within-career 
        • Being a good teacher and a good researcher while maintaining fruitful outreach programs. Having the skills to balance these different hats
      • All stages
        • Keeping up with constantly increasing expectations (e.g., outreach/broader impacts)-for which, graduate students often do not receive sufficient training and early career faculty are expected to carry out but receive little credit for in performance evaluations
  • Balancing career expectations with everything else in life
    • Pre-career, gaining experience 
      • Non-traditional students might not be able to take field jobs that expect to work long, erratic hours
      • Inability to gain experience while earning a living wage. Many of the entry level jobs are low paying (or not paying!) and short lived so it is hard to get the experience needed to begin a career if one must support themselves
    • Within-career 
      • Finding a job that supports a good quality of life (financially), allows some degree of autonomy in conducting research, and maintains a supportive (as in, not hostile) work environment
      • Lack of support for work/life balance and the publish/perish-funded/fired diad
  •  Hostile environment
    • Pre-career 
      • Competition and academic hazing can reduce student confidence and serve as a barrier to successfully completing graduate work
    • Career 
      • Instead of "publish or perish" it's now "fund or get fired". Funding to advance science will be one of the greatest issues next generation scientists face
      • Job market

Opportunities (organized within the themes of the challenges)    

  • Bias at both personal and institutional levels    
    • Recognizing particularly effective undergraduate educators that have stellar records of engaging undergraduates, especially under represented groups, in ecology research
    • The realization that students from underrepresented groups benefit from role models who are also from underrepresented groups
  • Gaps in training and increasing expectations
    • Pre-career
      • Increased emphasis on alternative careers in ecology from the undergraduate level to the post grad level 
      • Technology and social media as a tool for engaging and teaching the next generation of scientists
    • Within-career, wearing all hats
      • Collaborate with other individuals across disciplinary boundaries
      • Communication training at various levels
  • Balancing career expectations with everything else in life
    • Pre-career, gaining experience 
      • Expansion of REU type programs that offer promising students wellpaid opportunities to gain their first research experiences with quality scientists
    • Within-career, quality of life
  •  Hostile environment
    • Pre-career, hazing can keep people from finishing graduate work
      • Developing clear more effective mechanisms for reporting and addressing academic hazing within departments 
      • Development of ecology-mentoring best practices that provides a national standard for graduate student advisors This could provide specific examples of what is inappropriate behavior in different environments, such as during comprehensive exams and could also lay out clear steps that must be met in a productive mentoring environment
      • Academic Concerns through online therapy/support groups
    • Career