Women Earning More College Degrees – Still Underrepresented in Career Levels

A new study about women in the work place has just been released. The study has a lot of interesting statistics and tips or suggestions. We will be presenting some of the information in a series of blog posts.

The first sentence of the report is striking, “Women remain underrepresented at every level in corporate America, despite earning more college degrees than men for thirty years and counting.”

Why is this still an issue, with record number of company’s committed to gender diversity?

An interesting direct quote from the report may have one answer, “Men think women are doing better than they really are.”  As leaders in our field, we need to educate others around us about the issues that we may be facing.

How do you educate others?
  • First educate yourself by reading the recent articles and data.
  • Have a clear objective for these conversations:
    • For example, I want to improve the career training for young professionals. I suggest to management that we could have monthly brown bag lunches about career topics.
  • Be prepared for tough questions on how this will help the company.
    • Empowering and developing your employees can pay off in the long run.
    • Studies have shown more diverse group come up with more efficient and effective solutions.
  • Keep doing it. Get out there and educate others about the opportunities that can be improved.

How to Interview

You are interviewing for your dream job, how do you prepare? Every email, phone call or interview conversation you have with the recruiter or company is important.

The basic list of topics are found below:

  • Review your resume
  • Review the job description
  • Research the company
  • Practice the STAR interviewing method

Everyone prepares for interview differently.  I spend a lot of time researching the people and the company. Personally, I have found the following to be critical:

  • Research the interviewers through Linkedin
  • Prepare specific questions for each interviewer
  • Try to determine the following through the interview:
    • The leadership style of your manager.
    • The work environment.
    • The overall atmosphere of the company.

If possible finish all your prep for the interview in the afternoon before. This will allow you to relax the night before the interview. Day of the interview

  • Leave an extra half an hour early
  • Find a local coffee place where you can go if you are early
  • Stay positive and focused the entire interview – turn off or completely silence your phone
  • Take notes while each person is talking
  • Give business cards to each person
  • Follow-up within 24 hours with a thank you email to all interviewers whose contact information you have. Your notes will help to make each email individualized.

The most overlooked step is making sure to interview the employees of the company. Do not be afraid to ask the tough questions. When you are talking to other employees, try to determine the work environment. What is my ideal manager? How will I grow under the leadership?

Overall, if you want to have a good interview, you must prepare.

Transitioning to the workplace – part 2

As I continue to adapt to the “real world” after having been in school my whole life, I have been keeping track of things that seem to be helping me be successful in my post-PhD life. Check out this earlier post for more tips.

Disclaimer: These are things I’ve done or noticed and have greatly helped me be successful and effective so quickly. These tips may not work for everyone. 


Tips on Networking

  • Go to as many meetings/workshops/conferences as your job allows — this allows you to meet the maximum number of new people. Try not to call in to meetings, if teleconference is an option. By attending in person, you gain valuable face-to-face time.
  • Talk to the speakers after their talk/meeting– have a few questions to ask so it’s not awkward.
  • Find people in positions you aspire to and ask them how they got there and any recommendations as you embark on this path.
  • Have an elevator pitch ready and tailored to whoever you’re talking to — who you are, what you do, what you want to ask them.
  • Have a mentor/supervisor introduce you to people doing what you aspire to do.
  • Keep a spreadsheet/document of all your contacts and relevant information — contact information, how you know them, when you last contacted them.
  • Send regular updates/check-ins to stay in contact. Meet them for coffee, lunch, etc.


Other general tips:

  • Decide on one or two things that you absolutely want to get done on a particular day. Often with all the meetings and last minute things, you won’t be able to get through a long list of items. By keeping a shorter list, you help focus your time on the important thing of the day. This goes for at home too! Especially those heavily involved with SWE or other organizations, this helps to focus your limited personal time!
  • Schedule time on your work calendar to work on these priority items. You’ll be surprised how quickly your day will get filled up with other things and having dedicated time to accomplish these tasks will make you more productive.
  • Keep a longer to-do list in case you happen to finish the priority items mentioned above. Keep adding things to this longer list as you think of them. This helps keep you from going down too many rabbit holes!
  • Be prepared to spend a few extra hours each week reading or catching up on what your office does.
  • People remember faces. Whenever possible, introduce yourself in person and then follow up via email afterwards. E.g. people remember my face from an internship 5 years ago. My name has changed, but they still remember me.
  • It’s a small world — be careful to not burn any bridges. Be kind to everyone, you never know who may end up being your boss, or being on your team in general. 
  • Know what you’re being graded on for promotions. If you care about career progression, make sure to accomplish the necessary items to be considered for promotion.
  • Pay attention in meetings and contribute when possible. It sounds like a no-brainer, but in the workplace, people expect you to be engaged and much of the work gets done in these meetings and conversations. Plus, this allows you to gain face time and credibility to bolster your reputation.
  • Say “Yes!” to as many things as you can handle – additional office duties, extra-curricular work projects, work-related volunteer/outreach opportunities, etc. This shows your passion and seriousness for your job. 
  • Make sure to find several mentors – people in various positions to help you in various ways. Don’t just rely on one person!


Do you have other tips or tricks for transitioning from grad school to the work place quickly and effectively? Write them in the comment section below!