First step on the ladder

15 March 2021

A program of workshops for women ECRs (levels A and B academic staff and final year PhDs). The ‘nuts and bolts’ or, everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask about becoming an academic.

As a member of the Australian Athena SWAN programme, the ANU is committed to the promotion of gender equity and to removing the obstacles that women face in career development including the transition from a PhD into a sustainable academic career. The CAP Strategic Plan commits to improving the retention and advancement of women through active career planning, opportunities for leadership and career development, and mentoring for women staff, particularly at early- and mid-career levels. This workshop programme contributes to those strategic objectives.

The first step on the academic ladder – usually a postdoc or an entry level lecturing position – can often be a daunting one for early career women scholars as they take the step from PhD student to fully-fledged academic. In many situations, little attention is paid to the ‘nuts and bolts’ of this transition on the assumption that these skills don’t have to be learned or can somehow be picked up by osmosis. This includes things such as preparing course guides and managing ‘teaching and learning’ spaces; developing a dissemination strategy, including the practical aspects of publishing proposals; the mechanics of writing and submitting a grant application (and managing successful grants); writing a job or promotion application and then, dealing with the interview process. Pressure on transition and entry-level scholars to undertake these tasks successfully from the very beginning of their careers are increasing.

This programme consists of six 3-hour workshop sessions that will cover a range of these ‘nuts and bolts’ skills and strategies. It is open to (i) women PhD students within the Bell School who are close to submission and soon to be on the academic job market, and (ii) women who hold entry level academic positions (A and B) within the School – including those on casual contracts – who want to develop these skills further.

The programme offers a mix of institutional support, career coaching and profile raising and will draw on the experience of senior women within the Bell School with additional contributors as appropriate. Workshop sessions will deliver a highly interactive, evidence-based approach to skills development. Where appropriate, participants will have the opportunity, for example, to learn (or to enhance their early-career experience) from drafting and receiving feedback on statements of learning objectives and outcomes of the kind that are required in course guides; to talk through the development of their book proposals, having had before them examples of successful book proposals submitted to publishers; to participate in mock job interviews having had advice from senior colleagues who have selection committee experience.

The intended outcomes for close-to-completion women PhD students anticipating a move into an academic career and for women colleagues in entry level posts will include:

• Enhanced awareness, knowledge of and confidence in the execution of academic skills that are crucial for academic appointment and career advancement from entry-level positions.
• Opportunities for continuing, practical support.
• An opportunity to provide feedback to the School, College and the University on job-related challenges for transition and entry-level scholars, particularly women.

Supported by the Gender Institute, The Australian National University.

Convened by
Lorraine Elliott, Prof Emerita, Department of International Relations
Toni Erskine, Prof and Director, Coral Bell School

Each session will start at 12noon with lunch, with workshops scheduled for 12:30 to 3:30pm with a break for afternoon tea.

17 March: Challenges and concerns in a Covid-constrained world
24 March: Job and promotion applications and the mysteries and magic of selection and promotion committees
31 March: Managing the ‘teaching-and-learning space’
14 April: Grant applications and research management
21 April: Publication strategies; book proposals, journal articles
28 April: Managing networking, engagement and impact

Updated:  30 March 2023/Responsible Officer:  Bell School Marketing Team/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team