In changes aimed at improving the quality of graduate student advising, Stanford University’s Faculty Senate last week voted to require departments to spell out advising expectations for both professors and students.
Featured on the Front Page
From across the STEM Diversity Network
I am surrounded by workaholics.
At every college where I have taught, the unspoken mantra is that you must always have a project to work on — a new book, a journal article, a series of poems, or a grant proposal. In the faculty mailroom, the most common question is “What are you working on?” An unheard-of response is “Nothing.”
My adjunct colleagues are trying to publish themselves into a tenure-track position, while the tenure-track faculty members know that if they do not publish their way to tenure, they are done. Then there is the tenured faculty. They set the pace for everyone else by keeping their foot on the gas. Some of these people are in their 70s, with bags under their eyes, and CVs as long as Jack Kerouac’s scroll of On the Road. Yet, they never stop. As one of my colleagues once told me, “Academia is like a pie-eating contest where the reward is more pie.”
Female scientists are under-represented in global research. Nature has long argued the need for initiatives to increase their opportunities and participation — so we are delighted to announce an awards programme that aims to do both.
The two annual awards will recognize inspirational early-career female researchers and those who have worked to champion young women’s and girls’ participation in science. By rewarding and celebrating these achievements, we hope the programmes will contribute to a positive shift towards the equity sorely needed in the research community.
Because my body is failing, I have enlisted the aid of a colleague, the education journalist Peg Tyre, who has long shared my views. Together, we will lay out some fundamental steps that people of good conscience might take to make sure higher education is aligned with the democratic values we share.
Let’s start with alumni. It is common to harbor fond feelings toward your alma mater. But to be a responsible, forward-looking member of your college’s extended community, look a little deeper. Make it your business to figure out exactly whom your college serves. What is the economic breakdown of the current student body? Some colleges trumpet data about underrepresented minorities and first-generation students. But many don’t. And either way, there are follow-up questions to ask. How has that mix changed over the past 10 years? What policies are in place to increase those numbers? You may not get a direct answer. No matter. When they call you as part of the annual fund-raising drive, press the issue.
There is a growing cry for help from graduate students across the globe who struggle with significant mental health concerns1. Despite increased discussion of the topic, there remains a dire need to resolve our understanding of the mental health issues in the trainee population.
Recent research on mental health in the trainee population has focused on within-institution cohorts, such as the 2014 UC Berkeley report2, which found that 43–46% of graduate students in the biosciences were depressed, and the 2015 University of Arizona report3, which found that a majority of doctoral students reported “more than average” current stress or “tremendous” stress and endorsed school and education-related issues as the most significant contributors to their stress. Although these studies demonstrate the mental health concerns in this population, more research is needed to better define the prevalence of mental health issues and the role of key variables such as gender, mentorship relationships and perceived work–life balance on susceptibility to mental health struggles in the trainee population.