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December 2016 Broadcaster

Thursday, December 15, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Allison Shultz
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December 2016
In This Issue
  • GWIS Fellowships
  • Special Feature: The Plight of Contingent and Adjunct Faculty, Part 2
  • Seeking Fellowship and Media Committee Members
  • GWIS Book Club and TED Discussion Group
  • Jobs and Fellowship Opportunities
GWIS Fellowship Application Submissions End January 13

There is still time to apply for a 2017 GWIS Fellowship! Since 1941, the GWIS National Fellowships Program has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to empower women in the early stage of a STEM career. Please check our website for guidelines and application instructions, and make sure to read the FAQ section for further information. The deadline for all GWIS Fellowships will be 11:59 pm, Eastern Standard Time, January 13, 2017.
The Plight of Contingent and Adjunct Faculty

Agitating for Improvement

Contributed by Catherine Steffel, Medical Physics Graduate Student, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Adjuncts are largely responsible for encouraging critical thought and the way courses are taught at their universities.  Yet, they often have minimal participation in shared governance and are unable to advocate for themselves.  
As reviewed in the first part of this series, an American Association of University Professors report released in 2012 shows that adjuncts in engineering and the sciences receive $2,800-$4,000 per course for a typical teaching course load.  Pay is small compared to a median salary of $70,000 per annum for entry-level tenure-track faculty.  
Some administrators argue that the position of an adjunct was not meant to support an individual or family in the first place, and therefore compensation and benefits are suitable.  
This is because historically, adjuncts consisted of those individuals who only wanted to work part-time or who were retired but still wanted to teach.  In contrast, many contingent faculty today choose their position because it is only better than the alternative – joblessness or homelessness.  
Further, despite dissatisfaction in their employment situation, a report by the American Federation of Teachers (2010) found that 41 percent of all adjuncts have worked at the same institution for 11 years or more.  Far from encouraging, this study may suggest that contingent faculty are stuck in a rut of multiple different jobs out of which they cannot climb.  A far better understanding of the motivation behind the decision to become and remain an adjunct is needed.  
Some have proposed an increase in compensation for contingent faculty. Perhaps paradoxically, many universities have cut instructional spending while investing heavily in administration, facilities, and technology.  Even while keeping funding for instruction flat, universities increased the number of administrative positions by 60 percent between 1993 and 2009, 10 times the rate at which they added tenured positions.  
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Universities seemingly have backed a business model that relies on a large, steady supply of underemployed - albeit not unqualified - instructors.  This has angered adjuncts and shortchanged students, who are likely to find fewer full-time faculty with adequate time, support, and resources available for instruction.  
Past efforts by contingent faculty to achieve better pay and working conditions were met with mixed success.  While efforts at individual institutions occasionally won better pay or improved benefits, the United States Supreme Court decision in NLRB v Yeshiva University (1980) made it difficult for adjuncts at private institutions to agitate for improved wages and working conditions, as these adjuncts were considered managerial staff.  Lately, it has been easier for all contingent faculty to unionize.  In a case brought forward by Pacific Lutheran University faculty (2014), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that adjuncts cannot be considered managers and therefore are eligible for union membership.  
In a culmination of these factors, the first national adjunct walkout day was held last year.  This walkout follows a growing movement by adjuncts to win access to health care and improved wages and working conditions through unionization.  
Between the 2013-2014 and 2015-2016 academic year, adjunct faculty unionized at 35 private colleges and universities, and unions won 88 percent of elections to represent adjunct faculty members.  Advocates for unionization have expanded their campaign beyond adjuncts to nontenured, salaried full-time instructors in an attempt to have their complaints legitimized.
To arbitrate and suppress the unionization movement, some schools have provided moderate job stability and double-digit percentage pay increases for contingent faculty.  In contrast, others have declined to acknowledge unions in the first place.  At Duquesne’s McAnulty College in Pittsburgh, officials refused to allow adjunct professors to unionize, despite the professors’ vote to do so.  In 2012, adjuncts made up 60 percent of faculty at McAnulty College.
Some officials, such as McAnulty’s Provost Tim Austin, claim decisions about adjuncts are not “dictated by cost savings”.  On the other hand, New Faculty Majority head Maria Maisto claims that adjuncts can be paid out of the salaries of college presidents and coaches.
Brennan and Magness’ article (2015) in the Journal of Business Ethics suggests the solution as simple as reallocating funds to instructional purposes.  Brennan and Magness calculated that meeting union demands could cost tens of billions of dollars nationwide and would result in less tuition relief and fewer scholarships for students.  Such a change would also increase class sizes and limit the number of adjunct positions available.  One solution might be for universities to hire fewer adjuncts, shifting toward a smaller, better paid corps of teachers.  This would benefit both students and teachers; however, it would frustrate those scholars eager to remain in academia but unable to find paid work as instructors.
Whatever an institution’s decision about unions, it is difficult to dispute their social advantages.  Naomi Winterfalcon of Champlain College told The Atlantic in 2015 that she knew few people in her department until adjunct instructors unionized.  With unionization came the ability “…to improve ourselves academically as well as our working environment”, Winterfalcon said of herself and other adjuncts.  It “facilitates better teaching to have others who are in the same circumstances to talk through problems, share experiences, and strategize how to solve them.”  
There are few data that separate STEM courses from those in the humanities and social sciences.  Thus, to understand the apparent exploitation of contingent faculty as an issue that affects women in STEM, we need new, comprehensive data that show who adjunct instructors are and how they are distributed across institutions.  We also need accurate, current data on tenured and tenure-track faculty, racial and ethnic minorities, and those with disabilities.  
If we cannot demonstrate how contingent faculty are critical to students’ and institutional successes yet are poorly remunerated for their efforts, reforms will remain uneven and ineffective.  
This article is part 2 of a series examining the hurdles that adjunct faculty face and how they are trying to surmount them.  Part 1 gave an overview of how adjunct faculty have quietly come to dominate the college learning scene.  Here, the impact of the unionization movement among adjuncts is presented. Future publications will discuss the broader impacts of adjunct teaching on student outcomes and higher education in STEM through interviews with GWIS members.
We would like to hear from you! Please tell us about your experiences as an adjunct or contingent faculty advocate by emailing us at with the subject "adjunct".
Seeking Volunteers

The Fellowships Committee is looking for enthusiastic GWIS members who want to serve on the committee this year. It is a great opportunity to become involved in GWIS and to help hundreds of women in their academic and professional careers. Fellowships Committee members contact experts and solicit reviews for a portion of approximately 200 applications following the application deadline on January 13th. If you are interested in serving on the committee, or have questions, please contact the Fellowships Committee Coordinator, Vicky Cattani at If you are interested in reviewing submitted applications, please also contact Dr. Cattani. Fellowship Committee members and fellowship reviewers may not be 2017 fellowship applicants.

The GWIS Media Committee is seeking a volunteer to create videos for our female scientist profile communication. No experience required. Activities include any or all of the following: contacting mentors with questions about their work, writing scripts for the animations, drawing illustrations for the animations, editing audio for animations, creating the animations (using Adobe After Effects). All activities have previously been developed by members of our Lead team who will train you in the area(s) you wish to participate. This is a great way to gain experience in documenting and championing another scientist's research, and skills learned can be applied to your own! To participate in creating animated video, it is helpful to be affiliated with an institution that provides the software, After Effects. To participate in this team, contact Media Committe video initiative leader, Kayleen Schreiber at
Job and Fellowship Opportunities

Several job opportunities are available at NIH and NCI. Check out this link for full details on NIH positions. NCI announcements are featured on our LinkedIn site.

L’Oréal USA Fellowships for Women in Science program is now accepting applications for its 2017 awards. The national awards program recognizes and rewards five U.S.-based women researchers at the beginning of their scientific careers. Recipients each receive up to $60,000 that must be put towards their postdoctoral research. Application period closes February 3, 2017. Details can be found here
GWIS Connect

Miss the last Book Club? Catch up on what you missed and connect with other members in our GWIS forum! Contact Gina Moreno to get involved in the next discussion. 

Mark your calendars! Our first GWIS Talks TED discussion series will be held Tuesday, January 17 at 1 pm EST. The discussion will be held via UberConference and our discussion forums. To sign up for the UberConference, contact Gina Moreno.

How can the US recover after the negative, partisan presidential election of 2016? In his TED Talk "Can a Divided America Heal?" social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, in conversation with TED Curator Chris Anderson, describes the patterns of thinking and historical causes that have led to such sharp divisions in America — and provides a vision for how the country might move forward.

Nominations are open for GWIS national offices. GWIS national officers gain valuable leadership experience working with dozens of other women to manage and promote an organization of over 800 women in science. Do not overlook nominating yourself. Nomination form deadline is 5:00 pm on January 15, 2017.  Nomination Form

Collision Conference Limited number of free tickets available! Join thousands of attendees at America's fastest growing tech conference in New Orleans, May 2-4, 2017. Contact GWIS president, Stacey Kigar, for more details. More Info on Collision
State College Chapter had a number of November activities including "Friendsgiving", collecting donations to feed the hungry, Eventapalooza, Exploration U, "A Day in the Life of a Scientist" outreach for the Girl Scouts, and a Maximizing your Personal Finances on a Student Budget seminar. 

Members of the Twin Cities Chapter gathered in November to honor Dee McManus with the presentation of a National Meritorious Service Award for her longstanding service and commitment to GWIS. Dee served both the Twin Cities Chapter and national organization in many capacities over the years including GWIS National President and Executive Director. Dee gave attending members and guests a presentation on the history of GWIS.
This fall, Chicago Chapter held their second Chicago SCIENCE Talks which provide a space for members to practice and share their scientific work. This year's speakers featured graduate students Tanja Florin (UIC Center for Biomolecular Sciences; Apidaecin - an antimicrobial peptide with a unique mode of action.), Victoria Helan (UIC Department of Chemistry; Design of a Green Methodology: Efficient Synthesis of Indolizines.) and Gabriella Szewczyk (UIC DMD/PhD student; Peptide signaling in Streptococcus mutants). November brought a career panel series titled Industry Women of Science with invited panelists Jen Anderson, PhD, Director of Software Engineering at ECRA Group, Merle Ward, Kelly Scientific Business Development Manager, and recruiters Leslie Canna and Kinnari Saraiya. A holiday party in December will feature treats from around the globe. Chicago chapter wishes everyone the best of times this holiday season and a merry 2017!
Chicago SCIENCE speakers Gabriella Szewczyk, Tanja Florin, and Victoria Helan.
Industry panel speaker Jen Anderson answers audience questions.
Profile of an Astrophysicist: Sara Seager. From The New York Times, a compelling profile of MIT professor and MacArthur Fellowship recipient Sara Seager, one of the leading astrophysicists of the exoplanet world.
Failing Families, Failing Science. New book about balancing work and home life as an academic scientist warns that failure to address the challenge will cost institutions and science as a whole. Inside Higher Ed
Peggy Whitson: Oldest Woman in Space Blasts Off to ISS. US astronaut Peggy Whitson traveled to the International Space Station for the third time, blasting off last month with veteran Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and first-timer Thomas Pesquet of France. Whitson, who will turn 57 during this tour, making her the oldest woman in space, is expected to break other records, including passing fellow astronaut Jeff Williams for the most time spent in space. BBC News
Johnson & Johnson Establishes Susan Lindquist Chair for Women in Science. Dr. Lindquist, who passed away on October 27, was a globally renowned scientist who significantly advanced science and medicine in the field of protein folding.She left behind a storied career and reputation in biomedical innovation that spanned basic research, entrepreneurship, and mentorship for women in science. SAT Press Releases
Science 50: The Women Ushering the World into a New Scientific Era. The list includes high achievers in astronomy and other research, entrepreneurs, and science communication. Silicon Republic
Dallas Designer Encourages Women In STEM Fields With Science Based Clothing Line. Epidemia Designs encourages women who make their careers in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields with a line of workout clothes printed with digitally magnified images of heart, brain and nerve cells. The three collections are called She’s Got Heart, She’s Got Brains, and She’s Got Nerve. CBS DFW
"Never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams."
Hillary Clinton

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Founded in 1921, Graduate Women in Science is an inter-disciplinary society of scientists who collectively seek to advance the participation and recognition of women in science and to foster research through grants, awards and fellowships. We comprise over 20 active chapters of more than 800 women who are "United in Friendship through Science" to support and inspire member professional goals and mutual appreciation of science. Learn more at

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