CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State University is hosting a workshop April 9-11 to provide the skills, strategies and knowledge necessary to successfully advance in a tenure-track position, especially in biology, ecology and Earth system sciences.

A keynote address and networking activity, which is free and open to the public, will be held Tuesday, April 10, from 7-9 p.m. in the auditorium of OSU's Linus Pauling Science Center.

That presentation, titled "Degrees of Freedom: The Seemingly Random Walk of an Academic Ecologist's Career path," will be made by Laura Huenneke, vice president for research at Northern Arizona University. Huenneke is an accomplished ecologist, researcher, teacher and administrator.

"Thoughtful, intentional choices - in matters of relationships, research directions, employment - can be made while consciously assessing and balancing one's priorities," Huenneke said. "But anticipating that all will unfold as planned is not realistic, and being too narrow in defining acceptable opportunities may lead to us missing some chances for professional success and impact."

A number of OSU faculty will join participants from 15 universities from across the country for the three-day workshop, which will address a continuing problem - female attrition at every career transition. For example, in biological sciences 45 percent of the doctorates awarded are to females, but only 26 percent of the applicants for tenure-track positions are female.

Women are selectively removing themselves from the academic trajectory. And the primary cause of the problem, experts say, is usually not overt discrimination. Women who apply for tenure-track faculty positions in the biological sciences are more likely to receive job offers than men, and women who seek tenure are also more likely to get it than men.

"It's fairly common for women to absorb more of the personal tasks such as the care of aging parents and children," said Barb Lachenbruch, an OSU professor of forest ecosystems and society. "Field work and travel can make the academic workload even heavier and the work-life balance more difficult.

"Many of the field sciences have been historically male-dominated," she said. "It takes purposeful thought to build a good career and life with these challenges. With this workshop and other supportive efforts like it, we want to empower assistant professors to feel less isolated, to not get overwhelmed, and to keep their expectations realistic."

The workshop will explore communication skills, interviewing, collaboration with colleagues, networking, mentorship, field work challenges, parenting, managing expectations, maintaining personal relationships, and getting tenure. More details about the program are available online at

The workshop is being funded by the National Science Foundation. It is a collaboration of educators from OSU, George Washington University and Gallaudet University.

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Barbara Lachenbruch, 541-737-4213