There are so many relevant topics in higher education and opportunities for change. The one that feels closest to me is the need to further empower women in academia. When you look at the statistics, more than half of PhDs are awarded to women, yet women make up less than 30% of tenured faculty. This highlights the challenge women face when entering a career in academia.
Women face issues with equal pay, getting hired, bias, being represented in their field, work life balance, and getting tenured. I am particularly interested in the work life balance of women in academic and how institutions support their academic and personal goals. The desire to have a partner, children, and family can be at odds with the expectations of assistant faculty. This is where higher education can continue to change and adapt to support women.
So far though in my graduate education, I have been quite fortune. I have had the opportunity to thrive professionally while also pursuing personal priorities. I am married and recently had a baby, all while being a full time student. My advisor, committee, and the graduate school have supported me. 20 years ago, this would not have been norm. It takes institutional level change in the form of programs and policies along with a cultural shift to embrace a true work life balance.
While I am still just in graduate school and challenges are still to come, I am not deterred. I feel confident that in 10 years even more progress will be made to empower women in academia.