By Katie LanginJun. 13, 2019 , 3:55 PM

Taken from https://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2019/06/now-i-know-i-m-not-alone-study-highlights-challenges-lgbtq-workers-stem-face

“I’m living a double life.”

That’s what Sandra (a pseudonym), a transgender woman and professor of chemistry, told researchers when she was asked to describe how she navigates her personal and professional identity. “Many of my colleagues have never even seen me presenting as a woman,” she added.

Sandra is one of 55 STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) workers—including faculty members, students, and staff—who were interviewed for a study about what it’s like to identify as LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) in STEM. Since the study was published last month in the Journal of Homosexuality, the authors have received a slew of responses along the lines of, “Thank you for doing the work, because now I know I’m not alone,” says Allison Mattheis, an associate professor of education at California State University (CSU) in Los Angeles and the lead author of the study.

This Pride Month, Science Careers spoke with Mattheis and her co-authors—Daniel Cruz-Ramírez de Arellano, a senior instructor of chemistry at the University of South Florida in Tampa, and Jeremy Yoder, an assistant professor of biology at CSU in Northridge—about their study and what can be done to better support LGBTQ workers in STEM. This interview was edited for clarity and brevity.

a hand painted with a rainbow flag

Q: What challenges do LGBTQ people in STEM face?

Daniel Cruz-Ramírez de Arellano: In the STEM workplace, there has been this expectation that you should not bring in aspects of your personal life—that it has to be exclusively about the work and about the project you’re working on and nothing else. It’s exhausting for some people to have to separate their work and personal identities in such a way. What we found with our interviews is that if people could bring their whole selves to the workplace, without any sort of reservation, not only were they happier, but they did better work.

Jeremy Yoder: To highlight one example, one gay male astrophysicist said that the reason he was not particularly open about his gay identity at work was because everybody was trying to give the impression that they didn’t have a life outside of work; they thought that talking about their personal life would make them seem less competitive for postdocs and faculty positions. So that sort of work culture effectively put him in the closet, even if he wasn’t explicitly concealing anything.

Cruz-Ramírez de Arellano: We also had participants saying, “If I’m the best in my field, it won’t matter that I’m also gay.” It feels like you have to be the absolute best to counteract the fact that you’re gay. That resonated with me because I went through a stage like that.

Allison Mattheis: Support from departments and advisers is also a major factor. For example, I interviewed two trans students in math who had completely opposite experiences. When one student started to transition, they emailed their adviser and the next week, when they showed up on campus, everyone was using the correct pronouns; there were gender inclusive bathrooms on the same floor. So, the burden wasn’t on the trans person to figure everything out themselves.

But, for the other person it was a struggle. They had to go around and explain their identity to every single person as they started to transition. They didn’t have any senior faculty stand up for them. They once told an adviser that, when teaching in a lecture hall with 500 students, they were laughed at after someone misgendered them. Their adviser gave them a response along the lines of, “I’m here to talk about math. And maybe you’re just not cut out for this because you’re not able to focus on math”—just really cruel things.

That to me was a real example of how someone can be encouraged if they’re provided with some basic support and advocacy—and how hopeless people can feel if they don’t get that because it’s so exhausting trying to get a Ph.D. while also defending your identity for years.

Q: You’re all faculty members who identify as LGBTQ. Is it important for you to be “out” at work and with your students?

Cruz-Ramírez de Arellano: Yes. I’ve decided that being visible is really important to me, particularly after analyzing all of the interview data. So many people said that they’d never seen an out person in their field who was in a more senior position than them. 

When I teach, I come out in the first 15 minutes of my first class. I have this slide where I speak about things that I like, for example video games or TV shows. And then I also have a picture of my boyfriend and me, and I say, “This is my boyfriend. His name’s Aaron. We’ve been together for 2 years. And now let’s talk about the syllabus.” I don’t linger on it; I don’t spend 20 minutes talking about how gay I am and how many drag queens I know. But I make it a point to come out explicitly because I might very well be the first gay scientist a lot of my students get to know.

Yoder: I don’t explicitly come out in class. But I have tried to be really deliberate about making sure I introduce myself with my pronouns, which is something that I should be doing regardless of my sexual orientation and gender identity. It signals that I’m someone who is thinking about diversity in the classroom.

I also sometimes wear things that signal my identity. Today, for example, I’m wearing a shirt I got at yesterday’s Pride run. And for years, I wore one of those little silicone rainbow wristbands everywhere, which is not the same as coming out exactly, but it is a signal that registers to people who are looking for it, which is almost as good.

Mattheis: I generally do come out to all my students at the beginning of class, but I have a really different context than Daniel and Jeremy. I teach graduate students who are already working in education or who want to work in education, so they generally are already aware of diversity issues. But because I work at a campus that’s 90% students of color, I always feel like my racial identity is one that I need to address first. If I don’t make it clear that I’m aware of the fact that I’m a white woman and that that really impacts my experience, I’m not going to be able to be a mentor to my queer students—who are mostly people of color—because their race is such a salient part of their identity and something that impacts them every day walking down the street.

Q: How can faculty members become effective allies, even if they’re not LGBTQ themselves? 

Yoder: A really straightforward option that’s available on many, many campuses is “Safe Zone” training. That’s something that faculty can take themselves. If they want to go the extra mile, they might also consider making sure that it’s available and encouraged for all members of the lab. For instance, they could tell postdocs and graduate students that they can do the training on the clock—that it’s important for the work in the lab.

Cruz-Ramírez de Arellano: Afterward, you get a little Safe Zone sticker that you can put on your office door, which communicates to the campus community that you have gone through the training and that you are an ally. You can also put diversity statements on your website and in your syllabi, and list your pronouns in your email signature. That makes people feel like they are being included and addressed.

Mattheis: I think it’s also important for professors to model that they are humans. There’s this extreme perfectionism that’s prevalent in STEM, and it’s really hard for young folks. Sharing things that you’ve struggled with or messed up with—those are the things that make students think professors are accessible. And once you’re accessible about some aspect of your identity, students will come with questions about a lot of other things.

The other thing I would say is, don’t just say, “Oh, I found a queer student; let me point them to the one queer person I know across campus.” That’s really awkward. The student needs to have an advocate who also is aligned with their other interests. It’s important to demonstrate that you can be an ally to students who don’t share the same identities as you and that you’re willing to learn from them.

Mental health disorders and depression are far more likely for grad students than they are for the average American

By Prateek Puri on January 31, 2019

From https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/the-emotional-toll-of-graduate-school/

A recent Harvard study concluded that graduate students are over three times more likely than the average American to experience mental health disorders and depression. The study, which surveyed over 500 economics students from eight elite universities, also concluded that one in 10 students experienced suicidal thoughts over a two-week period, a result consistent with other recent reports. While these findings are alarming to some, as a current graduate student myself, I regard them as hardly surprising. But to understand the struggles graduate students face, you have to understand the structure of graduate school itself.

Most people probably lump doctoral students into the same category as undergrads or students in professional schools such as law or medicine. The reality is their lifestyle and the nature of their work are fundamentally different. In the STEM fields where I have personal experience, as well as many other fields, graduate students are really hardly students at all. For most of their programs, which last over six years on average, they aren’t preparing for written exams, taking courses or doing any of the tasks usually associated with student life. Instead they are dedicating often over 60 hours a week towards performing cutting edge research and writing journal articles that will be used to garner millions of dollars in university research funding.

While graduate students are compensated for their work by a supervising professor, their salaries substantially lag what the open job market would offer to people with their qualifications, which often include both master’s and bachelor’s degrees. For example, graduate student salaries are typically around $30,000 a year for those in STEM—and can besubstantially lower for those in other fields.

Further, unlike many professional school students, doctoral students do not leave their program with job security or even optimistic financial prospects. In fact, according to a study in 2016, nearly 40 percent of doctoral students do not have a job lined up at the time of graduation. Even for those who do snag a job, mid-career salaries can be significantly less than those for individuals who graduated from other professional programs.

So if doctoral students are underpaid and overworked, why do over100,000 students—more than the number for dentistry, medical and law schools combined—complete these programs every year?

There are many answers to this question, and they vary from department to department, individual to individual. For some, graduate school is a convenient next step, a way to inch towards adulthood while keeping your career options open and remaining in a familiar university environment. For others, graduate school offers something they simply cannot get elsewhere. These students enter graduate school because they are extremely passionate about their field—passionate enough that they are willing to dedicate over six years to studying off-the-wall research ideas in excruciating detail.

Universities, with a commitment to intellectual freedom, are one of the few environments capable of providing the funding and resources necessary for this type of work. So, we put up with the hours, put up with the pay, and put up with the dwindling career prospects in the hope that we can pursue research we are passionate about—and then we cross our fingers and hope the rest will work out.

Unfortunately, as the study pointed out, it often does not work out. Mistaking casual interest for passion, many students realize halfway through their degree that they aren’t as enthusiastic as they thought about their research. Still several years away from graduating, they have to deliberate between grinding through the remainder of their program or exiting early and entering the job market in an awkward position: underqualified compared to other doctoral graduates and inexperienced compared to others who joined the workforce directly after college.

Even those who are interested in their work have to grapple with seemingly infinitely postponed graduation dates. Unlike other programs, there is no “units threshold” you have to meet in order to graduate—instead your graduation date is overwhelmingly determined by the amount of novel research you perform. No matter how hard you may work, no results will likely mean no degree. Even the best researchers can see years slip by without any significant results as a result of factors completely out of their hands such as faulty equipment, dwindling research budgets or pursuing research ideas that simply just don’t work.

Even for students who are lucky enough to produce results, frustratingly, individual professors have their own standards for what constitutes “enough research” to graduate. Is it four first-author research articles? What about one review paper and a few conference presentations? The answers you hear will vary widely, and ultimately, a student’s supervising professor usually has sole power in determining when a student graduates. At best, this creates a confusing system where students perform substantially different amounts of work for the same degree. At worst, it fosters a perverse power dynamic where students feel powerless to speak out against professors who create toxic working conditions, even resulting in cases of sexual exploitation.

Then there’s always the existential, “what even is my purpose?” mental black hole that many graduate students fall into. Yes, research has historically produced innovations that have revolutionized society. But for every breakthrough there are many other results without any clear social application, and given the slow, painstaking process of research, you may not be able to tell which is which for decades. As a student, it’s can be easy to doubt whether you’re pursuing work that will ever be useful, producing a sense of meaninglessness for some that can facilitate depression.

Clearly, if nearly 10 percent of the graduate population is experiencing suicidal thoughts, something is not working right in the system. Still, progress on these issues has been slow, largely because the people who are most affected—graduate students– are often the ones with the least agency to spur change. As a student, by the time you’ve seen the cracks in the academic infrastructure, you’ll likely only have a few more years until graduation. Do you really want to dedicate time towards fixing a system you’re leaving soon when you could be performing career-vaulting research instead? Are you willing to risk upsetting professors whose recommendation letters will dictate your employment prospects? For many, the answer is no.

Granted, the issues surrounding graduate student mental health are much easier to describe than to solve. But if academia is good at anything, it’s tackling complex, multifaceted problems exactly like these, and there are number of starting points for both students and administrators to push forward. For example, universities could require multiple advisors within a student’s field to evaluate degree timelines, preventing labor exploitation by a single professor with vested interests in prolonging graduation dates.

Departments could also streamline their graduation criteria to reduce disparities in student workload amongst different research groups and to increase transparency of degree requirements. Further, administrators could increase funding for popular student mental health services and subsidized housing that help graduate students offset cost-of-living expenses. Some universities have already adopted these policies in earnest and others only in name, but the point is academic institutions need to be making a concerted effort to improve the graduate student experience. For all the research they have done, graduate students deserve to start seeing some results.

Written by Alison Doyle

curriculum vitae (CV) written for academia should highlight research and teaching experience, publications, grants and fellowships, professional associations and licenses, awards, and any other details in your experience that show you’re the best candidate for a faculty or research position advertised by a college or university.

When writing an academic CV, make sure you know what sections to include and how to structure your document. Check out CV templates and sample CVs to help you write your own.

Tips for Writing an Academic CV

Think about length. Unlike resumes (and even some other CVs), academic CVs can be any length. This is because you need to include all of your relevant publications, conferences, fellowships, etc. Of course, if you are applying to a particular job, check to see if the job listing includes any information on a page limit for your CV.

Think about structure. More important than length is structure. When writing your CV, place the most important information at the top. Often, this will include your education, employment history, and publications. Within each section, list your experiences in reverse chronological order.

Consider your audience. Like a resume, be sure to tailor your CV to your audience. For example, think carefully about the university or department you are applying to work at. Has this department traditionally valued publication over teaching when it makes tenure and promotion decisions? If so, you should describe your publications before listing your teaching experience.

If, however, you are applying to, say, a community college that prides itself on the quality of its instruction, your teaching accomplishments should have pride of place. In this case, the teaching section (in reverse chronological order) should proceed your publications section.

Talk to someone in your field. Ask someone in your field for feedback on how to structure your CV. Every academic department expects slightly different things from a CV. Talk to successful people in your field or department, and ask if anyone is willing to share a sample CV with you. This will help you craft a CV that will impress people in your field.

Make it easy to read. Keep your CV uncluttered by including ample margins (about 1 inch on all sides) and space between each section. You might also include bullet points in some sections (such as when listing the courses you taught at each university) to make your CV easy to read. Also be sure to use an easy-to-read font, such as Times New Roman, in a font size of about 12-pt.

By making your CV clear and easy to follow, you increase the chances that an employer will look at it carefully.

Be consistent. Be consistent with whatever format you choose. For example, if you bold one section title, bold all section titles. Consistency will make it easy for people to read and follow along with your CV.

Carefully edit. You want your CV to show that you are professional and polished. Therefore, your document should be error free. Read through your CV and proofread it for any spelling or grammar errors. Ask a friend or family member to look it over as well.

Academic Curriculum Vitae Format

This CV format will give you a sense of what you might include in your academic CV. When writing your own curriculum vitae, tailor your sections (and the order of those sections) to your field, and to the job that you want. Some of these sections might not be applicable to your field, so remove any that don’t make sense for you.

CONTACT INFORMATION
Name
Address
City,
State Zip Code
Telephone
Cell
Phone
Email

SUMMARY STATEMENT
This is an optional section. In it, include a brief list of the highlights of your candidacy.

EDUCATION
List your academic background, including undergraduate and graduate institutions attended. For each degree, list the institution, location, degree, and date of graduation. If applicable, include your dissertation or thesis title, and your advisors.

EMPLOYMENT HISTORY
List your employment history in reverse chronological order, including position details and dates. You might break this into multiple sections based on your field. For example, you might have a section called “Teaching Experience” and another section called “Administrative Experience.”

POSTDOCTORAL TRAINING 
List your postdoctoral, research, and/or clinical experiences, if applicable.

FELLOWSHIPS / GRANTS
List internships and fellowships, including organization, title, and dates. Also include any grants you have been given. Depending on your field, you might include the amount of money awarded for each grant.

HONORS / AWARDS
Include any awards you have received that are related to your work.

CONFERENCES / TALKS
List any presentations (including poster presentations) or invited talks that you have given. Also list any conferences or panels that you have organized.

SERVICE
Include any service you have done for your department, such as serving as an advisor to students, acting as chair of a department, or providing any other administrative assistance.

LICENSES / CERTIFICATION
List type of license, certification, or accreditation, and date received.

PUBLICATIONS / BOOKS
Include any publications, including books, book chapters, articles, book reviews, and more. Include all of the information about each publication, including the title, journal title, date of publication, and (if applicable) page numbers.

PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS
List any professional organizations that you belong to. Mention if you hold a position on the board of any organization.

SKILLS / INTERESTS 
This is an optional section that you can use to show a bit more about who you are. Only include relevant skills and interests. For example, you might mention if you speak a foreign language, or have experience with web design.

REFERENCES
Depending on your field, you might include a list of your references at the end of your CV.

Taken From: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/academic-curriculum-vitae-example-2060817