On Wednesday, February 15, the English Department hosted the Women in Academia panel, an informal question-and-answer session between female professors in the English department and the attendees—primarily students who aspire to pursue graduate school themselves. The panelists were Jamie Horrocks, Debbie Dean, Mary Eyring, and Kristin Matthews, who are all at varying stages of their careers and who took different pathways to becoming professors at BYU.
Students asked questions regarding how they should prepare during undergraduate years, how they can reconcile faith with their studies, and how they can navigate the challenges of being a woman in the competitive field of academia. Each professor gave candid answers about her own experiences before, during, and after graduate school. Some of the stand-out tips for undergraduate students included the following:
Build genuine relationships with your professors so you can have solid letters of recommendation and perhaps have opportunities to conduct research for them.
If you are interested in academia, take Matt Wickman’s Future Scholars Program class, which takes students through the process of graduate school applications.
Improve your time management skills now because your time will be divided among many responsibilities as a professor.
Learn to wake up every morning and choose faith. Be willing to be different in your beliefs, but be open-minded and receptive rather than defensive.
The event was an hour of support and openness, allowing a space for candid conversation about the challenges that women face as academics and how to overcome those challenges.
Photo by Sylvia Cutler