SOCI/MKCL Alumni Networking

Event Date: October 26, 2016
Location: Hughes Trigg, Suite 200
Time: 5 to 6:30 pm

Please join us for a casual get together to gain exposure to different career paths and learn how to leverage your academic experience into the world of work. For more information contact: Chelsi McLain or visit

Research: Women hit harder by the pressures of elite academic science

SMU News

Originally Posted: October 12, 2016

We find that the fixed view of the ideal scientist has a significant impact on the ability of both women and men to stay in and succeed in academic science.” — Lincoln, Ecklund

Work life in academia might sound like a dream: summers off, year-long sabbaticals, the opportunity to switch between classroom teaching and research. Yet, when it comes to the sciences, life at the top U.S. research universities is hardly idyllic.

Based on surveys of over 2,000 junior and senior scientists, both male and female, as well as in-depth interviews, “Failing Families, Failing Science” examines how the rigors of a career in academic science makes it especially difficult to balance family and work.

SMU sociologist Anne Lincoln and Rice University sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund paint a nuanced picture that illuminates how gender, individual choices, and university and science infrastructures all play a role in shaping science careers, and how science careers, in turn, shape family life. They argue that both men and women face difficulties, though differently, in managing career and family.

“We spoke with graduate students and postdoctoral fellows about their professional and personal aspirations — their thoughts about entering academic science, as well as the struggles they face in trying to obtain an academic science position while starting a family,” write the authors. “We spoke with those who have ‘made it’ in science by obtaining positions as professors, asking them about the hardships they face as they try to balance devotion to work and family, and what kinds of strategies they use to overcome the difficulties. We also examined their potential to change the institutional infrastructure of science. Through our interviews, we were able to dig into some deeper issues.”

Numerous women the authors interviewed indicated they had to hide the fact they had children until they were confirmed for tenure, said the authors.

But they also found that family issues had an impact on career, and were a cause of concern, for men also.

” … many of those who are parents noted that their family commitments often negatively affect their opportunities for career advancement,” write the authors. “They say senior male scientists subtly and overtly sanction them for devoting themselves too much to their families — for example, criticizing them for not being fully devoted to their work when they take time off after the birth of a child.”

While women are hit harder by the pressures of elite academic science, the institution of science—and academic science, in particular—is not accommodating, possibly not even compatible, for either women or men who want to raise families.

Perhaps most importantly, their research reveals that early career academic scientists struggle considerably with balancing their work and family lives. This struggle may prevent these young scientists from pursuing positions at top research universities—or further pursuing academic science at all — a circumstance that comes at great cost to our national science infrastructure. — NYU Press. READ MORE

How work and family life conflict in the modern university Academic science still operates on assumptions that have failed to catch up with the realities of today’s family lives, argue scholars

Times Higher Education

Originally Posted: September 29, 2016

A new book explores how to “expand the family-friendliness of academic science”.

Failing Families, Failing Science: Work-Family Conflict in Academic Science is based on a survey of close to 3,500 biologists and physicists in top American universities, followed up by 184 in-depth interviews.

Although she points out that “there is much more of a ‘motherhood penalty’ than a ‘fatherhood penalty’” for those forging academic careers, today’s “young men are a lot more like women than older men in the importance they place on family life and the tensions they felt in combining it with a research career”.

Unfortunately, the book suggests, academic science (and particularly male-dominated disciplines such as physics) is still in thrall to the image of “the ideal scientist” – in essence an utterly single-minded “man with a supportive wife who takes care of all his personal matters” – and the notion that, as a source of “ultimate objective truth”, science is “the sort of activity that is worth putting everything else on hold to pursue”.

Failing Families, Failing Science includes many striking testimonies of what this means for individuals.

One woman recalls her boss saying to her: “Oh, yes, you’re giving birth next week, and…you know, just don’t do anything, we’ll do everything. But can you write this grant and we’ll submit it in a month?” Another reports “hid[ing] the fact that she had chil­dren [during evaluations for promotion] in order to guard against ‘motherhood discrimination’”. A man describes having to choose between picking up a sick daughter and completing a proposal likely to bring in “hundreds of thousands of dollars”. READ MORE

Meet the Scientist: Eveline Kuchmak, an SMU alumna and current Manager of Temporary Exhibitions at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science

The Rock Report

Originally Posted: July 18, 2016

Meet: Eveline Kuchmak

Another Southern Methodist University alumna (Pony Up!), Eveline graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Economic Sociology. Growing up she “lived for trips to art and science museums, space camp, Pony Club veterinary workshops, and the latest issue of National Geographic.” She was homeschooled for much of her childhood and her parents always made sure she had a healthy dose of curiosity. After graduation, she attended archaeological field school in New Mexico which only reinforced her desire to discover new things and share these experiences. This path has led her to a career inspiring others through science museums.

She began working at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in education and public programs; however, at the beginning of this year she transitioned into her new role as Manager of Temporary Exhibits. READ MORE


Sheri Kunovich, Sociology, shares insight on SMU-in-Taos campus life

Taos News

Originally Posted: May 31, 2016

Fort Burgwin wasn’t much to look at in 1973 when Southern Methodist University (SMU) took over the independent research facility that was solely focused on archaeology. But four decades later, SMU-in-Taos is a full-fledged campus. With a slew of renovations in the past two years, the campus is starting to cultivate the community feel it has long desired.

SMU-in-Taos is a multipurpose educational facility that sees a rush of energy during the summer as Dallas-bound SMU students come to Taos for one of three summer terms.

But for years, the campus didn’t have the physical layout befitting a community of learners. The old cafeteria was built in the 1970s and always served as a de facto student center for SMU students who make the summer trek from Dallas to Taos. It had the open space. It had the TV.

That all changed with the opening of a new student center — the Miller Campus Center — last summer.

Though only a wall separates the new building from the old cafeteria, they’re worlds apart in terms of contemporary amenities and construction. In addition to a classroom and gym, the new center is also the campus living room, replete with couches and a wraparound porch that bring students that much closer to the outdoors that brought them to Taos in the first place.

“So much of being here is being outside,” said Max Gunther, a health psychology professor. It’s the little things — watching the dramatic change of color and clouds at sunset, the forest abuzz with life, while finishing a midterm essay — that make the SMU-in-Taos experience what it is,” he said. “You can’t get that in Dallas.”

Steps lead down to what is essentially the new campus plaza — a hallmark of the Hispanic and Pueblo communities the students study — which also serves as an outdoor amphitheater. A newly constructed chapel anchors one side of the plaza, while a handful of casitas and classrooms round out the other.

“This moves the center of gravity of the campus up here to the casitas, to where they live and study,” said SMU-in-Taos Director Mike Adler, who has been a professor with the university for 25 years.

Adler stressed the importance of informal spaces — those places where students can be absorbed in their surroundings or even just sit with the unsettled feeling of “quiet,” so foreign from Dallas noise. “It’s the osmosis between the indoors and outdoors that’s very important,” he said.

And that’s something professors are beginning to take advantage of, too, by “teaching naked,” abandoning the classroom altogether and taking the class – and learning – outside.

“Out here, you can learn stuff you just can’t learn in the classroom,” said Gunther. “They remember stuff in a different way.”

A trip to Williams Lake — “or as close as we can get,” he said — is supplemented the day before with a lesson about the cardiovascular system (“why they can’t breathe”) and the day after with a lesson on the body’s pain systems (“which they’re all feeling”).

Beyond all the elements of learning and development that aren’t in the curriculum — like self-confidence from climbing a mountain or the ability to sit still in the calm of nature — the campus directly supports the academics of the school, said sociology professor Sheri Kunovich.

“The Taos campus is inherently interdisciplinary,” she said. It’s commonplace for an environmental history professor to take a walk with a botanist and students, striking up conversations that would have never happened without two steams of thought having the time and space to simply meander together, she said. READ MORE

Congratulations to John Kalkanli, graduating in May with dual degrees in International Studies and Markets and Culture with a minor in human rights

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 8.26.05 PM

This week we are sharing some powerful SMU stories from the class of 2016… John Kalkanli has never seen the campus of SMU, but he says he loves it none-the-less. John Kalkanli is blind. Born in Turkey with a disorder that robbed him of his sight from day one, his family brought him to Dallas six times in his first five years of life to attempt surgeries they hoped would make him see. None of the surgeries worked, but eventually he found something else in Dallas – a future home at SMU. After Kalkanli graduates in May with dual degrees in International Studies and Markets and Culture with a minor in human rights, he will enroll in SMU’s Masters of Liberal Studies program with a focus on human rights. After that, he hopes to work for an international human rights organization like Amnesty International or the International Rescue Committee. Congratulations John, we look forward to watching as you change the world. Read more of John’s story at the link in profile. #smugrad

A photo posted by SMU (@smudallas) on May 10, 2016 at 3:21pm PDT

Professor Kunovich, Sociology, Recognized at Hilltop Excellence Awards Ceremony

Professor Sheri Kunovich received the Extra Mile Award from the Students for New Learning. Students for New Learning is an SMU-chartered student organization for students with ADHD or learning differences. The group meets monthly to provide support, learn tips and strategies, plan fun events, and works to increase campus understanding on the topic of learning differences.

Gender Gap in Political Knowledge Persists in Poland, New Research by Sheri L. Kunovich


After controlling for political interest, previous voting behavior, and socio-economic controls, women in Poland are found to be less knowledgeable than men about political leaders. However, religious attendance is found to increase women’s political knowledge but not men’s.

READ MORE about Sheri Kunovich

Congratulations to Markets and Culture Alumna Kelly Sayres

MKCL Alumni Update: Kelly Sayres

Kelly Sayres will be pursuing a Master’s degree from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education in Technology, Innovation, and Education starting Fall 2016. Kelly graduated in 2012 and has been teaching at an impoverished elementary school in rural Central Texas.