Presentation Title: Building Community and Increasing Access: One @latinaras Tweet at a Time

Abstract: Historically disadvantaged populations are grossly underrepresented in advanced research and academic careers (National Institute of Health, 2012; Snyder, Dillow & Hoffman, 2009). Women and most racial/ethnic minorities are underrepresented in securing advanced doctoral degrees. Ethnic minority populations also represent less than 16% of the country’s full-time faculty (Snyder, Dillow & Hoffman, 2009); among PhDs, women of Color are less likely to reach the rank of full professor with tenure compared to their male and White counterparts (Ginther, Schaffer, Schnell, Masimore, Liu, et al. 2011). Addressing these disparities requires increasing awareness on the needs, challenges and opportunities for diverse scholars. It also requires targeted and deliberate dissemination of information to build community and access to senior scholars and mentors. This presentation will present on social media platforms to expand professional communities and address the underrepresentation of racial/ethnic minority populations in research and academic careers. Specifically, we will present initiatives undertaken by the Latina Researchers Network, a multi-disciplinary community of more than 700 scholars, researchers and students nationwide. The network, founded only in 2012, has a 12-month growth rate of approximately 200%, and is expected to reach over 1,400 by spring 2014. The presentation will discuss how the Network leverages social media, particularly Twitter, to engage in conversations relevant to the needs of underrepresented scholars, to disseminate information (e.g., faculty/research appointment opportunities, fellowships and trainings offered by major institutes, etc.), to provide access to information at a time and place convenient to the consumer, and to support scholars and aspiring researchers throughout the country. Findings from social media analytic tools (e.g., Google Analytics) will be reviewed to explore the impact of Twitter as a mechanism to disseminate knowledge and increase awareness. The presenters will also discuss challenges and lessons learned for using Twitter to further the mission of professional organizations. Recommendations will be provided.

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