Among the activities sponsored by the ASCB Women in Cell Biology Committee during the Thirty-fifth Annual Meeting of the ASCB was a luncheon focused on “Career Issues in Cell Biology.” The luncheon was organized by WICB Committee members Sally Amero, Beth Burnside, and B.J. Taparowsky and was held on Monday, December 11. Nearly 400 meeting registrants attended this inaugural event.WICB was prompted to organize this luncheon by the concerns of many ASCB members regarding the uncertainty of establishing or maintaining a scientific career in the face of shrinking research dollars and a highly competitive job market. This luncheon provided an opportunity for cell biologists to meet and to discuss issues of particular importance to them in small roundtable groups of 10 per table. The discussion at each table was moderated by an individual whose life experience provided participants with a source of information and advice on a particular topic. The discussion topics for the luncheon were selected to appeal to cell biologists in training (e.g., “how to get a good post-doctoral position” or “job application strategies”), to scientists establishing their careers (e.g., “getting tenure” or “developing collaborations”), and to seasoned professionals (e.g., “balancing service with productivity” or “dual career families”). Topics addressing nontraditional career options for cell biologists included “part-time positions,” “careers in scientific writing and publishing,” and “how to change careers.” The popularity of these topics underscores the burgeoning trend to apply a degree in basic science to a broader career path. Perhaps the most important topic discussed at the luncheon was “career planning.” All men and women of science must give serious thought to career planning so that they are able to seize exciting career opportunities when presented. This ability will be based, in part, on the knowledge and experience one has accumulated through formal training, carefully selected voluntary service, and professional contacts.Society leadership embraced the “Career Issues in Cell Biology” luncheon—WICB was honored by the presence of five past ASCB presidents at the event: Betty Hay, Marilyn Farquhar, Mary Lou Pardue, Susan Gerbi and Ursula Goodenough and the president-elect for 1996-1997, Mina Bissell—all of whom graciously served as discussion leaders for various topics.
The positive response to the luncheon format from the ASCB membership spurred WICB Committee Chair Sue Shafer to put plans in motion for a second annual luncheon to be held during the 6th International Congress on Cell Biology/36th ASCB Annual Meeting in San Francisco, December 7-11, 1996. The 1996 luncheon, entitled “What to Do with Your Graduate Degree,” will include several of the more popular topics from the 1995 program. Additional topics such as “marketing yourself in a global economy” and “international communication” may especially appeal to cell biologists from abroad who attend the meeting. WICB invites all ASCB members and meeting attendees to participate in the 1996 luncheon. All those interested in attending the luncheon must preregister on the Congress & Meeting pre-registration form. On-site registration will not be available due to scheduling constraints and the need for advanced planning. The official program announcement and advance registration details for the luncheon are in the Call for Abstracts for the 1996 Congress & Meeting.
“…, I want to let you know that I have also heard nothing but praise for the WICB lunch. The organization was extraordinary. Toward the end of the period, the folks at my table continued to explore other more personal issues relating to women working in science, exchanging stories and recommendations with one another. This discussion was particularly enjoyable and instructive due to the presence of two older women who were quite interested to tell of their own experiences and to inquire about situations today that either encourage or pose problems for women in science. Finally, we reluctantly tore ourselves away from the table around 2:30, all feeling very satisfied with and inspired by the gathering.”
-Kaaren Janssen, Ph.D., Series Editor, Current Protocols in Molecular Biology
“Thanks for your heroic efforts in organizing this event. From my point of view it was a huge success!”
-Mary Lee S. Ledbetter, Ph.D., College of the Holy Cross
“I think these discussions were simply a GREAT IDEA, and I believe they would be useful on a regular basis. In addition to vehicles like luncheon discussions, maybe the ASCB (not only the WICB) could run Newsletter articles, and invite members to send in questions. Times are very tough these days, and mentorship towards career development is increasingly important. It seems a perfect issue for a professional society to tackle.”
-Ellen Henderson, Ph.D., Georgetown University
“Our discussion was very lively and interesting — everyone participated, and we all enjoyed it and gained new insights from it.”
-Susan Strome, Ph.D., Indiana University