Results from the Early Career member survey
Post written by Sarah Supp
In October, we took a brief survey of our members to try to identify what topics are of key concern for the Early Career Ecologist (ECE) Section and to address a few questions that ESA leadership specifically had regarding early career perspectives on ESA membership. I attended the ESA Governing Board meeting November 5-6, 2015 and had several great conversations with ESA scientists and staff on the topics identified in the survey responses, and by members who contributed to our ESA 2016 planning google doc.* I’d like to note that ESA Leadership is very receptive to addressing early career concerns and interested in staying up-to-date with the perspective of its early career members.
From the survey, I was able to identify 4 main areas of feedback and potential priorities for our Section to tackle and discuss within the Ecological Society of America: Membership, Career Resources, Family and Work-Life Challenges, and Costs. Some of these are relatively low-hanging fruit, some require more time, human, or financial investment to make happen, and some are potentially out of our control. If you have further ideas or would like to make suggestions or volunteer help, please get in touch with us in the comments, via twitter, or by sending us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Roughly 55% of early career members plan to automatically renew their ESA membership yearly, regardless of their attendance at the annual meeting. Approximately 30% do not plan to renew each year, and 15% aren’t sure (many of these were new members or cited recent moves or changes in career). Renewing members most often cited professional allegiance to their society as a reason for renewing, followed by access to year-round benefits, and reasonable cost as their main motivations for maintaining membership. Non-renewing members cited unstable job status, don’t always attend annual meeting, unsure of the value of year-round benefits to membership, and non-reimbursed cost as main obstacles to re-joining yearly.
2. Career Resources and Opportunities
3. Family and Work-Life Challenges
- There are plans for private lactation rooms, equipped with outlets and comfortable chairs, to be at the 2016 Ft. Lauderdale ESA annual meeting.
- Infant caregivers who attend the meeting with a parent requiring a baby hand-off during the meeting will be allowed free access, but they need to request a special (FREE) guest badge. Caregiver access can be requested during meeting registration, under the tab for ADA or Special Accommodations. Caregivers with free access to the conference center will not be allowed in the exhibit hall (poster room) or into any special meetings, socials, or receptions – this would require registration for the meeting.
- The ECE Section will work to help advertise these accommodations as the meeting gets closer, and to hopefully make the available accommodations more clear on our website and on the ESA annual meeting website so attendees can plan more easily.
4. Hierarchical Fee Structure
Full-Week Registration Fees (from ESA100 registration link)
|ESA Regular Member||$335||$390||$415|
|ESA Student Member||$165||$175||$195|
|Developing Country Member*||$155||$175||$195|
Additional member comments and suggestions
We also asked members to tell us what benefits the liked most about being an ESA member, and what areas they felt ESA could most improve on that Early Career Ecologist Section could potentially help tackle in upcoming years. I’ve highlighted a few of the responses below, in no particular order:
ESA membership benefits
- discounted registration cost for ESA annual meeting
- year-round access to ESA journals (e.g. Ecology, Ecosphere, Frontiers, etc.)
- reduced publication costs in ESA journals
- access to networking and positive, collaborative environment and colleagues
- opportunities available through joining a Section
- a sense of community
Potential areas for improvement within ESA, and that ECE Section to focus on
- enhanced mentoring for postdocs and early career folks in general**
- promote more networking and mentoring interactions for early career members***
- continued commitment and improvment to family friendly accommodations****
- Lowered early career meeting fee
- increased funding opportunities for non-US citizens, or more advertisement for these opportunities if they already exist
- more year-round activities to stay engaged and have a sense of community (e.g. regional meetings, webinars)*****
- better designed online and at-the-meeting job board
- more linkages outside the academic community, for careers, collaboration, and outreach opportunities
- workshops/guidance on publishing in ESA journals
- more formal early career representation in ESA governing board and committees
- default open twitter policy******
- increased diversity of ESA members
* I just want to state that using a google doc to collect ideas, discuss options, mobilize and delegate members to take leadership roles with planning proposed events, and to keep track of progress towards our Section’s goals worked AMAZING. I highly recommend it. Thanks everyone for stepping up and working together!
* this was brought up by many respondents
** This ECE Section has submitted a long-range grant proposal for mentoring activities, that builds on last year’s Centennial Mentoring Program
*** Members would like to see enhanced family accommodations and flexibility both at the ESA annual meeting and in their workplaces
**** The ECE Section’s proposed long-range grant includes funding for a webinar series, as this is also feedback we got during our annual Business Meeting at the ESA meeting this year.
***** The confusion surrounding the twitter policy at the Baltimore ESA meeting has already been addressed, and the official guidelines for the Ft. Lauderdale meeting can be viewed here. The default assumption will be that it is OK to tweet talks, but that presenters’ wishes to “opt-out” should be made clear and respected by attendees.