By Sarah Gaither and Jim A.C. Everett

In the most exciting innovation since sliced bread, we have some big news…This year marks SPSP’s first ever Early Career Committee! We, as your new committee co-chairs, would like to take this opportunity to introduce this new committee by giving you some information about who we are, why we’re here (the committee specifically, not existentially), and what we’re doing.

Who are we? Your new EC committee will serve you for three years, with two co-chairs running in each year. Your inaugural committee members are: Sarah Gaither (Duke University), Jim A.C. Everett (University of Kent, UK), Kat Duggan (North Dakota State), Brian Eiler (Davidson College), Sarah Huff (University of Denver), and Franki Kung (Purdue University). We are all early career researchers ourselves, dedicated to supporting you, an SPSP early career researcher. All of your committee co-chairs will be supported by Jan Kang from the SPSP team, and the Member at Large for Community and Diversity.  Learn more about the committee members.

Why are we here? We’re here to support the needs of our EC community, which for the purposes of SPSP means anyone that is less than 7 years post-PhD. All EC members are encouraged to join SPSP Connect’s EC connect group (Go join here!). ECs face a somewhat unique set of challenges with their transitions into and between jobs, and it was decided that a dedicated committee should be formed to support the needs of this group specifically. We reached out to our current Board Member at Large Ozlem Ayduk for her thoughts on why an EC committee is needed: 

“Similar to our student members, Early Career Researchers  are at the top of the list of those whose careers are significantly impacted by the policies and activities of SPSP.  Arguably, opportunities for networking and show-casing one's research publicly are arguably the most consequential for this particular constituency. In turn, ECs are the future of our discipline so as SPSP, we need to try even harder to nurture the next generation of personality and social psychologists.”

We know that EC members of SPSP are the future, but what do they look like? Most are aged 30+ and in academic jobs, with more than two-thirds of EC members working in a college or university. Check out SPSP EC demographics for age, occupation, gender, race, and sexual orientation here.

What do we want to do? As your new committee, we’re actively looking into how we can best support our EC members. One way we’ve done this is by combing through the survey posted after SPSP in Portland. Looking through open-ended responses from EC SPSP members, there were three main areas of growth summarized below:

  1. Money: more affordable conference costs including registration and dues, more financial support for large sample sizes now needed for ECs 
  2. Identity Recognition: creating awards for truly junior scholars within their first few years of a position, recognizing teaching stream ECs, supporting family resources and nursing stations, more acknowledgement on underrepresented samples and methods that ECs do
  3. Programming: named sessions that feature ECs explicitly, increasing networking for ECs, discussions on how to be faculty and how to start a lab

Our first areas of focus as a committee are identity recognition and programming. With identity recognition, one action among many that we working on now is the possibility of introducing a new award for truly junior EC members, to complement the current “Early Career” Award that typically goes to more advanced junior faculty often near them obtaining tenure. We’re also focusing on programming. Although data from SPSP shows ECs are equally represented in symposiums, creating explicit EC programming opportunities could be a good pathway toward building community and branding results from ECs. For example, a named session that features all ECs in speaking roles could be a nice invited speaking opportunity.  

As we get to work on some of these improvements, we encourage you to email us if you have any comments, questions, or concerns relating to being a SPSP EC. We are all early career researchers and we are here for you. We’re looking forward to working with you! And again, all EC members are encouraged to join SPSP Connect’s EC connect group (Go join here!).