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  1. Purpose This study aims to explore the perceptions of a diverse set of 16 engineering postdoctoral scholars regarding their fit for the professoriate. The professoriate speaks to the body of tenured/tenure-track faculty within higher education institutions. Design/methodology/approach An intrinsic case study design was conducted to provide an in-depth understanding of the factors influencing engineering postdoctoral scholars’ perceived professorial fit using person–job fit theory. Findings As a result of inductive and deductive data analyses techniques, four themes emerged: the professoriate is perceived as a calling for those who desire to teach and mentor the upcoming generation of engineers; research autonomy in the professoriate is highly attractive; the work demands of the professoriate are contrary to the work–life balance sought; and the professoriate appears daunting due to the competitive nature of the job market and the academic environment. Originality/value This study is critical for those invested in possessing a deeper understanding of the postdoctoral career stage, its relationship to the professoriate as a career choice and broadening participation in engineering academia. 
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  2. This study employs an instrumental case study design to explore the environmental context of Latinx postdoctoral scholars in relation to their STEM identity and intended STEM career pathway. Interviews were conducted using an interactionist approach to STEM identity development. Deductive data analysis techniques reveal the impact of supervisor relationships on the work environment, the importance of fostering a mentoring atmosphere for others, and the value of seeking and creating safe and supportive spaces. 
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  3. A descriptive phenomenological research design using a socialization theoretical framework is employed to describe the lived experience of socialization and its influence in the career pathways of 16 engineering postdoctoral scholars. Descriptive phenomenological data analysis strategies resulted in four constituents regarding effective postdoctoral socialization: (1) academic identity is nurtured, (2) disciplinary belonging is reinforced, (3) scholarly performance is strengthened, and (4) career development is essential for pursuing the professoriate. The essential structure was conceptualized as follows: Effective socialization of engineering postdoctoral scholars includes the enhancement of their academic identity, disciplinary belonging, and scholarly performance, as well as attention to the career development needs of those aspiring to be a professor. These findings shed light on the importance of the supervisor-supervisee relationship in the socialization process and the role of supervisors in shaping postdoctoral scholars’ career trajectories. 
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