Big 10 Women's Mentoring and Networking Workshop

All women assistant professors in their first three years of an academic appointment in engineering at Big 10 universities are invited to the workshop. In addition, senior women faculty from both the Big 10 and Big 10 Plus schools will attend to lead workshops, panel discussions and break-out group sessions.

The workshop will consist of plenary talks and panels, breakout sessions, critical friends workshops, and a research networking/poster session.

Why the Big 10?

The Big 10 engineering schools are all located within the upper Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin). All but one are state-funded public universities, and all are large schools. Many of them are located in small "college towns." Thus, their cultures are similar, and they can easily share best practices among them.

These eleven universities produce more than 10% of the bachelor’s degrees in engineering and almost 17% of the PhDs in engineering in the US. Four of the top 10 schools in terms of numbers of degrees produced (BS and PhD) are in the Big 10. Thus, the Big 10 engineering schools are big, and affecting change at these universities can have a large impact on the careers of the women faculty who participate as well as on the thousands of engineering students with whom they interact annually.

Research suggests that peer mentoring and collaborative efforts are successful when senior women and administrators both support them. The engineering deans of the Big 10 have a culture of collaboration and sharing best practices. This endeavor involving the Big Ten engineering schools will be seen by junior faculty, senior women faculty and deans alike as a natural extension of such ongoing efforts and activities.

Keynote Address

Martha Pollack, University of Michigan

Martha Pollack is currently Vice Provost for Academic and Budgetary Affairs at the University of Michigan, and in May will become Provost. She is also Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, and Professor of Information. She previously served as Dean of the School of Information at UM. Before coming to Michigan, Pollack was on the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh, and before that was a researcher at SRI International in Menlo Park, California. She holds a bachelor's degree is from Dartmouth College, and M.S.E. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.

Pollack's research is in Artificial Intelligence, specifically automated planning, natural-language processing, and constraint satisfaction; she has also studied the design of intelligent technology to assist people with cognitive impairment. She is an elected fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

Faculty Toolbox

Participants will be broken into three groups (A,B,C) and rotate through all three components of the "Faculty Toolbox."

Breakout sessions

Participants will be able to choose one of the three breakout sessions.


Women faculty members from ADVANCE schools will share best practices. Links to presentations (PDF) are given where available.

Industry Panel

Panelists from the sponsoring companies will talk about opportunities for the junior faculty to interact with their companies.

Research Networking/Poster Session

Each participant will submit an electronic copy of her poster (template provided by the organizing committee), and the printed posters will be displayed in the reception room. Food and drinks will be available to facilitate an informal atmosphere for networking. The intended outcome of this session is for the participants to get a broad view of research in engineering, and possibly make some connections for future research collaborations.

After the workshop, participants will be able to apply for small travel grants to visit other schools in the Big 10 to give invited seminars, meet with potential collaborators, or work on joint research proposals or projects.

Critical Friends

Participants will be broken into groups of 6 junior women, each led by a senior faculty member. Each junior woman will have an opportunity to present a situation in which she would like advice from an "anonymous" cohort, such as an issue with a colleague or technical staff, negotiating for a "fair share" of resources (space, funds, etc.), dealing with students (in the lab or in class), etc.

The critical friends workshops work as follows (Critical Friends instructions). For each scenario, the facilitator first sets the stage (2 minutes). The presenter then has 5 minutes to describe the situation, and the group gets 5 minutes to ask clarifying or probing questions. The presenter then turns her back to group and listens while the others discusses potential solutions to her problem (12 minutes). Finally, the presenter has 5 minutes to respond to the discussion. During the critical friends workshops, the participants develop problem-solving skills through peer mentoring. In addition, the participants will understand that their problems are not unique, and that they can help each other.

Return to the Workshop Schedule
dmt 05/09/13