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Advancing women in the workplace

Professor endows professional development lecture series

Mohindar Seehra has made it his life’s work to ensure his graduate students have the tools they need to succeed in academia, industry and life.  

Mohindar Seehra

The Eberly Family Distinguished Professor of physics has guided the research and careers of 65 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, including more than two dozen women. Seehra retired in August 2016 after 47 years of teaching and research at West Virginia University.

Seehra’s philanthropy echoes that dedication, and it has never been more evident with the establishment of the Mohindar Singh Seehra Lecture Fund, an endowment to support the professional development of women graduate students and researchers.

The endowment will fund the Seehra Lecture, a series of lectures coordinated by the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies in partnership with the Council for Women’s Concerns.

“My wife and I established the endowed lecture series to give women the opportunity to learn about balancing a family and professional life,” said Seehra, recipient of the 2015 Mary Catherine Buswell Award for the advancement of WVU women. “I’ve worked with many ladies, raised two daughters. It is a major issue for women these days to have a family and balance one’s personal life and professional life. I hope the lecture series will bring these issues to light.”

The lectures will cover topics like work-life balance, including both historical and contemporary issues and the influence of today’s economy.  

“Work-life balance is a challenge in various ways for women across academia. I think there are both economic and social reasons for both partners (in two-partner families) to have a job, which offers both opportunities and challenges as women, in particular, might be expected—or expect themselves—to maintain parenting and household roles,” said Cari Carpenter, interim director of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies. “With the tight academic market, many women feel extraordinary challenges to publish, do quality teaching and meet service requirements. For them, at any stage of their career, they very well may face the challenge of juggling multiple responsibilities.”  

The Center for Women’s and Gender Studies is in the process of selecting speakers for the spring semester. The schedule will be released in early 2017.

“There are more and more women in the workplace these days. What can employers, the government, laws and policies do to ease the challenges women face? How can families be better informed?” Seehra said. “It’s very difficult to understand the demand to raise children while having a professional life. It’s becoming a very personal and societal problem.”