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From the newsletter: Brief insights from the Fall 2020 APS FECS survey

By Adam A Iaizzi posted 11-28-2021 18:03

The following is an article from the Spring 2021 FECS newsletter available here.

Brief insights from the Fall 2020 APS FECS survey

by @Wennie Wang, FECS Member-at-Large 

In the Fall of 2020, members of the APS FECS were invited to participate in a survey with the aim to gather recommendations on what FECS should focus on for future meetings and resources and to gauge the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on members’ work experiences.  Of the over four thousand members in FECS, we received 170 responses. As an incentive, we gave away $50 Amazon gift cards to five randomly selected, anonymized participants.  Below are brief highlights from the survey.

As of 2020, FECS as a whole is composed predominantly of student members (62%), followed by early-career scientists (25%), regular members (11%), and a handful of senior/all-life members. Approximately 65% of members in FECS identify as male, 21% as female, and 0.2% as non-binary, with 5% not specifying. These demographics are somewhat reflected in the demographics of survey respondents. Figure 1 shows a breakdown of the years since earning a PhD of the survey respondents. Of those those who participated in our survey, approximately 55% identified as male, 30% identified as female, and 0.5% identified as non-binary; 12% did not respond.

Figure 1: Pie chart showing the breakdown of respondents in 2020 FECS survey for years since earned PhD.  Those in the N/A category are either undergraduate or masters students.

When asked what kinds of career resources and training FECS should focus on providing, career development and job search resources were ranked highest, followed by mentoring resources and resources for international researchers. Conference travel stood out as the type of financial support FECS should focus on providing, followed by grants for professional development and travel for short- and medium-term research collaborations. As most respondents indicated interest in an academic career track, academic career sessions were ranked highest as the sorts of sessions recommended for FECS to sponsor. A breakdown of respondents’ reported intended career goals is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: A bar plot showing the breakdown of respondents in 2020 FECS survey for intended career goals or best guess. In the category “Other”, we summarize the respondent’s inputted answer.

Finally, we asked about the impact of COVID on our members. More than 65% of respondents have resided in the U.S. during COVID and most reported a high to extreme impact in the local area. Over half agree or strongly agree that they receive adequate information from their institute and that their institution is prioritizing safety in the response planning. Interestingly, when asked whether COVID would significantly affect the ability to continue in the intended career trajectory, the responses were spread relatively evenly between disagree and strongly agree. Nevertheless, over 60% of respondents responded to experiencing a diminished ability to perform work and to communicate with colleagues and/or supervisors/advisers.

As members of the Executive Committee with FECS, we would like to thank all the respondents for their input and time. This survey provided valuable feedback to the FECS Executive Committee on efforts and resources to focus on in the future, particularly in the context of the recent pandemic, and we will keep these and other findings in mind for future efforts.

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