Three cheers for the Dean

I have been wanting to talk to the Dean of my college about my delight at the sudden increase in women faculty in my college, and about ways to help us/or keep us moving up the pipeline successfully. Why did I want to do this? Well, to a certain extent this is enlightened self interest (i.e. I’m a female junior faculty member). But- I want to do everything in my power to stop the drain of women from the pipeline, and that means keeping those currently in the pipeline right where they are and moving up. I think changes like this start at home, and I had already talked to my department chair about this and about my approaching the dean and I had my chair’s blessing.

Yesterday, I just happened to look through the glass into the Dean’s office and see him standing there …. I was sucked in as if by a tractor beam. Sometimes I can’t help myself. Anyway, I asked him for a few minutes of his time… and mentioned to him that with the increasing ## of women academics around it might be useful to set up a women’s faculty group- an informal group to meet on a regular (but not in overwhelming number of meetings) basis … and would that be ok. Get the senior women together with the junior women, so everyone knows everyone else’s faces, departments etc. We are not talking about a huge ## of women here- we are talking about maybe 10-15, so I think that this is realistic. I’ve been to the women’s faculty gatherings on the main part of our campus, and while I think this venue is also good- it is a VERY LARGE group and it is thus difficult to make personal connections to people and maintain those. I’m hoping a smaller size group of faculty within my college will have a different dynamic.

Happily- he was all for it. 1000% for it, offered administrative help and $$ to support it, pretty much gave me carte blanche to do this as I see fit. Most successful pitch with least effort that I ever made for anything. I’m thinking about an informal lunch once per month- hopefully this will be the basis for setting up a support structure for young female faculty, … and a more organized presence.

See, sometimes you just gotta ask for what you want.


8 thoughts on “Three cheers for the Dean

  1. Terrific idea. I was shocked the other day to receive an invitation to a women’s event in one of the engineering departments here at Brilliant U.- faculty, postdocs, and grad students included. I’m really looking forward to it. A focused group for profs esp. would benefit you and others like you!

  2. Candid Engineer and Anonymoustache-

    You people, my two daughters, my students…and PP, DM, FSP, Mad Hatter, Academic, BugDoc, and others in the blogosphere…too numerous to mention inspire me to do what little I can to make this place better, the culture of science a little more fair for everyone. 🙂

  3. Great idea, DrdrA! We do this with a small group at my institution and I’ve found it incredibly helpful and enjoyable.

  4. Oh you know, writing, traveling, writing, grading, writing….

    However, some fun news – my first graduate student finished up with his postdoc interviews, got many offers and accepted a position with a fantastic big-time lab. Of course, it will be sad to lose him, but I’m so proud of his work and excited to see him move on in his career (see today’s great post over at FSP about students leaving the lab)! These are the events that are nice to share in those peer group get togethers you were talking about in your post.

  5. BugDoc-

    Oh yes, I do know… all too well!

    But hey, Congratulations. That is totally awesome about your student… all grown up and leaving home for bright future!

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