Wondering how to get an academic job?

Show interest in the local area, no matter how barren

Here’s a four-page comic book guide to the process. It’s very useful and very accurate, although it does leave out the essential tip I discovered when I was going through a long chain of interviews: write down a reminder in your hotel room that says where you are and what university you are at. It’s really awful when you forget exactly where you are and confuse your interview site with their bitter academic rivals.

Step four, though, also made me wonder if this guide was written for all the candidates we’ll be interviewing in Morris.

(Speaking of which, I’m on the search committee for a new position in statistics/computer science, in which we hope to also snare someone with an interest in bioinformatics. Watch for it if you think you fit that description. Remember to say nice things about your long, long drive through the snow-covered cornfields to reach the interview, and make flattering compliments about our delightful grain elevators.)

Missing an opportunity

Given that computer science is one of the majors with the best job prospects, that it’s still a growth industry, how do you account for these proportions?

Computer science is an incredibly promising major, especially for a young woman. That and engineering are among the college degrees that can offer the highest incomes and the most flexibility — attributes widely cited for drawing many women into formerly male-dominated fields like medicine. Writing code and designing networks are also a lot more portable than nursing, teaching and other traditional pink-collar occupations. Yet just 0.4 percent of all female college freshmen say they intend to major in computer science. In fact, the share of women in computer science has actually fallen over the years. In 1990-91, about 29 percent of bachelor’s degrees awarded in computer and information sciences went to women; 20 years later, it has plunged to 18 percent. Today, just a quarter of all Americans in computer-related occupations are women.

Something is dissuading women from pursuing careers in computer science. I wonder what it is? Maybe it has something to do with bro culture.

You mean this stuff helps?

Sue Black recounts her experiences as a woman in computer science.

Carrying out research for a PhD in computer science and going to academic conferences I was very much in a minority as a woman. The ratio was around 2:8 female to male, or lower, and sometimes this made things a bit uncomfortable. I remember going to one conference where, after being told by my supervisor that I needed to network at conferences, I approached a couple of guys during a break to discuss the previous session. I plucked up courage and said something friendly about the last speaker to start a conversation with them. They looked me up and down, and then started talking to each other as if I hadn’t said anything. I stood there feeling really silly, realized after about thirty seconds that they were going to continue to ignore me, and then walked away feeling absolutely mortified.

I had a few other encounters similar to this, and of course some good ones too, but I never felt completely at ease in that type of situation. That was until I went to a conference in Brussels for women in science. This time there were about one hundred women and two men. As I walked into the conference room and stood looking around wondering where to go and sit, a woman came over and started talking to me. We had a great chat and joined a conversation with some other women, probably about why we were at the conference and what we hoped to get out of it. What an amazing difference. I met some truly amazing, inspiring and supportive women. That conference changed my life.

I had thought that it was me, and my lack of social skills, that was preventing me from enjoying academic life to the full. Now I realized that wasn’t the case.

Read the whole thing. You know that stuff about women doing it in high heels and backwards? Try getting a Ph.D. as a single parent with 3, later 4, kids.

Are you an English major looking for work?

I know, you all are. But here’s a job opportunity for a godless, well organized editor.

Atheist Alliance International (AAI, atheistalliance.org) will be launching a new magazine in 2013 and we are looking for an Editor to plan and implement a fresh layout and format! AAI has gone through many changes in the last year or so – including its re-launch as a genuinely global organisation in 2011 and the adoption of new branding earlier this year. Now we are contemplating another major change and we want to find the right person to work with us to restructure and re-launch AAI’s flagship magazine.

This is a contract, self-managed position that involves securing content for each issue, cover design and management of advertising and production.

Secular World magazine is currently published quarterly and available to AAI Members only, but AAI would like to consider broadening publication options to a range of electronic media. Based on quarterly publication the Editor will be paid US$1,250 per issue plus a share of any advertising revenue secured by the Editor and a share of external sales revenue. AAI is willing to discuss the elements of the payment package with applicants.