Dr. Mom, My Adventures as a Mommy-Scientist

Discussion of my journey from grad school to postdoc to tenure with two kids, a husband, (and a bit of breast cancer) in tow.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Postdoc to Academic Transition Awards

I'd like to address a couple comments swirling around one of my last posts.

First Alexis posted:
In 2004, the company also established a US national fellowship program which each year awards five post-doctoral female researchers with fellowship grants of $40,000. To date, this program has awarded research grants of $500,000.

Learn more about the international or national fellowships or laureate awards.

Then Janus Prof Answered:
I was interested in doing the LOreal fellowhsip and was very angry that I did not qualify. For starters, you had to already be in your post-doc to qualify! Faculty often won't accept you as a post-doc unless you already come pre-funded, which starts a chicken and egg problem for the LOreal fellowship. Dear anonymous, please change these guidelines so that real women can actually apply!!

This actually brings up a deeper questions about these awards. Some of them are so restrictive in who can apply, I wonder if they really help.

For example:

L'oreal Award- Have to already be a postdoc. Many students in engineering majors only postdoc for 1-2 years making it difficult to apply. Also, some majors (EE, BME) tend not to postdoc at all (and EE could sorely use some awards to encourage diversity).

Burroughs Wellcome Fund- This award provides two years of funding for a postdoc and three years of funding for a faculty grant. To apply you must be a postdoc for at least 12 months, and you cannot already have a faculty position. Again this prohibits a lot of people from applying for this award. In my field, it is not uncommon to get a faculty position before starting a postdoc and therefore not qualify for this award. Also, a 1-2 year postdoc person would have difficulty applying for this award.

NIH Pathways to Independence Award- This award is almost identical to the Burroughs Wellcome. Same problems.

So do these awards really help? I think they may in natural sciences where longer postdocs are much more traditional, but I don't think they are doing much at all for engineering, which arguably has fewer women than most natural science majors. Maybe we need some engineering specific awards to address these issues.


At 7:54 PM , Blogger Schlupp said...

Hm, how much do postdocs in EE normally pay? Because in physics, the usual postdoc pay is noticeably higher than the l'Oreal fellowship, and if engineering pays more than physics, it would effectively lead to extra-lousy jobs for women. Great.

At 12:29 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a side remark, you can't apply for the fellowship if you're a mathematician. Because you know, mathematics isn't really a science.

Or maybe because I stopped wearing make up after I submitted my first paper, twenty years ago?

At 7:35 PM , Anonymous drdrA said...

There is also an HHMI early career scientist award- avoids the apply during your postdoc problem. The deadline is coming up- I think...


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