Best Practices for Female Postdoctoral Researchers and Research Scientists

Postdoctoral researchers form the pool for the next generation of female faculty. To increase the likelihood that they are adequately mentored and continue in science, we recommend the following -
  1. Departments should provide opportunities for postdocs and research scientists to teach courses, publish independently, be involved in REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) programs, and serve as PIs on grant applications. These opportunities will be a significant advantage for them as they interview for permanent positions in academe or in industry. This is particularly important in a third year of a postdoctoral position.

  2. A policy on maternity leave for this group should be developed and made available so that individuals do not have to ask for it, and so that faculty are aware of it.

  3. An annual evaluation should be performed for all postdocs and research scientists, with honest feedback, and with an opportunity for discussion of career goals. Faculty should receive training on how to give performance reviews, if they have not already received it.

  4. Postdoctoral and research scientist staff should be welcomed within a department, and made to feel that they are performing a valued role within it. It is very important that they be provided with networking opportunities within and outside of the department, since women will naturally be more isolated in a male-dominated discipline. In fact, all lecturers, instructors and postdoctoral researchers should be made to feel part of the professional physics staff of a department.

  5. Whenever possible, departments should make an explicit effort to include research scientists in department social activities, and in department committee activities including student theses committees. Otherwise, this group can be “invisible” within a department.

  6. Departments should ensure that research scientists have a well-established career path within a department (e.g. Postdoc, Research Scientist, Senior Research Scientist, Faculty Adjunct, etc.) These individuals should get advice on the steps they would have to take to advance within the research scientist structure, or alternatively to secure an independent permanent position should they so desire. There is a need to ensure career development occurs, even for long-term staff. It would also be undesirable if research staff positions had a disproportionate number of women.

  7. Communicate to everyone in the department why climate issues are important and how a welcoming and mutually supportive environment will help the department recruit and support the best students and faculty.