Group photo at the New England Future Faculty Workshop for Women in STEM Fields. Photo courtesy of Kathleen Kenney.

By Sage Wesenberg, Biochemistry and Journalism 2019  

“This was by far one of the best professional developing workshops I have ever attended. Brava! Cannot wait to suggest fellow postdocs and grad students apply for next year’s event.” 

“Thank you for the wealth of resources! This workshop day was so important and informative to my career growth and direction.”  

“Great workshop! So inspiring to see many great female role models in one room.” 

     ~FFW Participants  

During a full day in the Egan Research Center, the 80 participants of the New England Future Faculty Workshop for women in STEM fields gained vital insight, advice, and pro-tips from faculty panels, one-on-one CV reviewers, and interdisciplinary groups of faculty members. The event was coordinated by Northeastern Associate Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology Penny Beuning, in collaboration with Northeastern’s ADVANCE Office of Faculty Development and UMass Amherst graduate students Charisse Pickron and Racquel Bryant, and Northeastern postdoc Hillary Hadley.  

“The panels were fantastic, the speakers were so great – they all spoke very honestly about the challenges they’ve faced in their careers, but continued to show passion and enjoy what they’re doing,” Beuning said. Many students often see the stressful aspects of a faculty member’s job and the rewarding parts seem to be hidden. The faculty involvement in this workshop clarified that and excited many of the students, Beuning explained.

Quickstart Panel Presentation. Photo courtesy of Kathleen Kenney.

Faculty members from Northeastern and other New England institutions participated in the workshop as presenters, panel members, and CV reviewers. Jan Rinehart, the Executive Director of the ADVANCE office, noted the importance of this faculty involvement as it provided invaluable feedback from faculty members who serve on faculty search committees.  

Out of 221 applicants, 72 postdoctoral scholars and late stage PhD students were selected to attend the event representing a wide-spectrum of STEM fields. They came from many universities including Northeastern, University of New Hampshire, University of Connecticut, Dartmouth University, and more. In preparation for these women applying as faculty researchers at universities, the workshop covered many different topics to help uncover what lies in their near future. After opening remarks from College of Science Dean Kenneth Henderson on the importance of a diverse faculty and dedicating resources to this area, the morning kicked off with a talk on finding the proper institutional fit. The day continued with opportunities for individual CV revision time, a practice of interview skills and job offer negotiations, as well as panels on time-management skills and how to start out as a faculty member.  

“There are a few key aspects we hoped to get across with this workshop. One is really the nuts and bolts of how to present your case as a potential faculty member, and also to give participants more confidence in the complicated process, hopefully demystifying it a little bit,” Beuning said. “It makes it a lot less mysterious and people have a better idea of what types of things they should be thinking about as they prepare to have their own lab.” 

Beuning and the ADVANCE team are already in the process of planning next year’s workshop, aimed at providing these resources for underrepresented populations in science.  

The audience listening in to the day’s presentations in the Raytheon Amphitheater. Photo courtesy of Kathleen Kenney.