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Author to discuss what it takes to be a professor

Many junior faculty and graduate students probably have wished for a primer on getting a job in academe and what's needed to succeed once there, perhaps with tips on expectations and on obstacles for women and people of color. On Friday, Feb. 20, faculty and students will have an opportunity to discuss these topics in three sessions sponsored by the Provost's Office.

Professor Virginia Valian, author of Why So Slow? The Advancement of Women, and Professor Richard Reis, author of Tomorrow's Professor: Preparing for Academic Careers in Science and Engineering, will lead a series of discussions on what it takes to become a professor in science and engineering, and on what makes it so difficult for white women and people of color to gain faculty rank and tenure.

These issues are especially relevant when, despite the current debate on the merits of tenure and renewed attacks on affirmative action, many education institutions and associations are renewing their commitment to greater diversity among the faculty as well as the student body.

The discussions are open to the MIT community. The schedule and primary focus of each is as follows.

  • 10:30am-noon, Twenty Chimneys in the Student Center -- Professor Reis will lead a session for postdocs, PhD students and undergraduates on preparing for graduate study in science, engineering and business.
  • 1-3pm, Rm 6-120 -- Professors Valian and Reis will lead a discussion for junior faculty, PhDs and postdocs aspiring to faculty positions or other academic careers.
  • 3:30-5:30pm, Rm 6-120 -- Professors Valian and Reis will lead a discussion for deans, department heads/associate heads, faculty recruiters and coordinators of faculty diversity.

On Thursday, Feb. 19, Professor Valian also will speak at 5:30pm in Rm 200 of the Humanities Library (Building 14S) as part of the MIT Press Book Store series.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 11, 1998.

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