Defining Your Research Identity

The ESWN hosted the 2011 professional development workshop “Defining Your Research Identity” June 6-8 at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and organized by Christine Wiedinmyer (NCAR), Rose Kontak (ESWN Coordinator, Brown University) and the ESWN Leadership Board, with logistical assistance from Joanne Martin (NCAR).

Fifty-one women from 21 different universities and 5 national laboratories participated in the event, in various stages of their careers, from graduate students (15) and post-doctoral researchers (13), to tenure track faculty (5) and research positions (10). The goals of the workshop included the identification of personal strengths, defining a personal and professional mission statement, networking with other ESWN members, and putting our mission into action.

The first day, participants used Strengthsfinder 2.0 to identify and better understand personal strengths and to help develop their mission statement. Everyone participated in activities allowing informal networking, creating a supportive community environment that allowed for deeper sharing of values among the group. The second day workshop participants learned mechanisms for successfully carrying out their values and missions professionally. Participants learned strategies for planning, writing, and creating accountability. The slides and some of the resources were made available to all ESWN members.

The second night of the workshop, a panel of senior women scientists provided some extremely interesting insight about careers, research, and work-life balance. Maura Hagan (Senior Scientist and Deputy Director of NCAR), Meghan Miller (President, UNAVCO), and Jana Milford (Professor, Mechanical Engineering, University of Colorado at Boulder) told their personal and professional stories to the ESWN participants and invited SOARS protégés. With additional support from the NCAR Diversity Program, the event was followed by a more formal dinner that provided an opportunity for more intimate Q&A and networking with the established scientists and among the workshop participants.

The final day of the workshop provided time to put the tools and knowledge learned over the previous two days into action.  At an optional poster session, some participants presented their research with new tools to credit themselves and effectively sharing their accomplishments, while the audience implemented new styles of questioning and listening.  To finish the workshop, participants worked with one another to develop research statements, web site summaries, job applications, etc. As a follow up to the workshop accountability groups and partnerships were organized for the participants to take part in, and many professional and less formal connections continued.

The success of the workshop was assessed by Marina Kogan and Sandra Laursen (University of Colorado at Boulder).  An initial survey was given to the participants before the workshop and follow-up assessments will be given in the future to determine the impact of the workshop on the participants as they move forward in their careers. Some of their data and lessons learned in the planning of the workshop was presented in a poster (ED43A-0539) Lessons from the Earth Science Women’s Network (ESWN) Workshop “Defining Your Research Identity” at the 2011 AGU Fall Meeting.