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September 28, 2015   Columns Articles | Inside UGA | Workshop provides advice, inspiration for black female…

Workshop provides advice, inspiration for black female professors, students

Camie Williams

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By Camie Williams | September 28, 2015

The UGA Office of Institutional Diversity hosted its first workshop to offer female African-American faculty members, postdoctoral scholars and graduate students a mix of career advice, networking opportunities and inspiration.

About 60 women participated in the Sept. 12 event, which included sessions about grant writing, the tenure process, leadership paths and microaggressions in academia. The workshop was funded by the President's Venture Fund, the College of Education and the Center for Research and Engagement in Diversity in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. It was organized and coordinated by Natoya Haskins, an assistant professor in the College of Education, and a group of faculty and students.

"The goal was to provide an opportunity for black female faculty and graduate students to connect, network and learn so that they can be successful in the job search, grant writing, promotion and tenure," said Michelle Garfield Cook, associate provost for institutional diversity. "I think the workshop was incredibly successful."

Melissa Davis, an assistant professor in the genetics department of Franklin College, said she was excited to find resources to help her meet her career goals as well as a network of colleagues to help each other.

"It was a really positive experience in terms of professional development and inspirational guidance," Davis said. "Now I am aware that I have peers literally right across the street dealing with the same issues of time management, work-life balance and promotion. I can see that, with a lot of resilience and hard work, I also will reach success."

Graduate School Dean Suzanne Barbour, who gave the keynote address, said she was pleased to see many graduate students in attendance. She added that she was encouraged that they received "frank and open" insights into the life of an academic before they choose their career paths.

"For these young women to see that there are people who look like them and have their interests is important; that can be huge," Barbour said. "My hope would be that they walked away with a sense of empowerment."

Juanita Johnson-Bailey, Meigs Professor of Lifelong Education, Administration and Policy and director of the Institute for Women's Studies, helped organize the workshop and co-led one of the sessions.

She said this and other mentoring opportunities can help underrepresented individuals achieve success while helping the university reach its goals in recruiting and retaining diverse faculty members.

"I wish when I was a graduate student or a brand new faculty that I had a workshop like this," Johnson-Bailey said.

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