Closing the gender gap in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics seems to be a common theme in the U.S. as well as cross-nationally. For example, toys gendered for young girls are now being geared towards building, computing math, and exploring the natural sciences. Additionally, multiple programs exist at a national level encouraging middle and high school women to participate in camps to build confidence and break down barriers that hold them back from pursuing innovation and leadership.
However, what support is out there for Postdoctoral students nearing the end of their role as a part of a university research team? Most of the time these students have been sequestered away in lab, spending all of their time focused on their research tasks, gaining a plethora of knowledge in their specific content area. In regards to the next step, there’s a large learning curve that must be addressed to aid in the shift from “lab rat” to full-time faculty.
If the end goal is to become a faculty member, Postdocs must receive additional support that extends beyond content-specific knowledge. In the competitive world of academia and shrinking tenure track positions, students must possess skills needed to effectively communicate their competence and be competitive. Therefore, time and resources must be dedicated to aiding postdocs in the process of articulating their talents and passions, presenting their research and qualifications, and brushing up on their (potential) rusty or inadequate teaching skills.
Furthermore, adequate efforts need to be extended to help post-docs begin to explore creative possibilities of using their education outside of the world of academics. Numerous opportunities are out there! To receive continuous resources to support graduate and postdoc students in their vocational endeavors, please consider enrolling in StemCareer’s email alias for counselors.