Female Scientist Award May 20, 2013Posted by The Raise Project in Uncategorized.
Tags: award winners, female recognition, Science, STEM
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Carnegie Science Center established the Emerging Female Scientist Award to recognize the work of a female leader whose cutting-edge work inspires change in math, science, or technology. When asked about this award the institution indicated that female scientists are not self-nominating or being nominated for many of the other prestigious Carnegie science awards. Read about it here.
Engineering and Mini-Golf January 4, 2013Posted by The Raise Project in Award Winners.
Tags: Awards, Engineering, engineers, STEM, Women's Awards
What is better than a museum with a mini-golf course inside it? Answer: that museum recognizing an awesome society with a prestigious award. The National Building Museum has honored the Society of Women Engineers with its Henry C. Turner Prize for Innovation in Construction Technology. The vote was unanimous. Go, SWE!
The National Building Museum will award Henry C. Turner Prize for Innovation in Construction Technology to Society of Women Engineers (SWE), which was chosen by jury in recognition of 60+ years of giving women engineers unique place and voice within engineering industry. Prize will be presented on February 5, 2013 in Washington, D.C., where SWE’s Betty Shanahan will deliver “Diversity Fueling Innovation” lecture and discuss ways to promote under-represented populations in STEM professions.
Wom-aceda-medic-eosis! Translation: Burnout. December 5, 2012Posted by The Raise Project in Career, Women in Science.
Tags: academia, Gender gap, Medicine, Science, STEM
First: Ohmigosh, wordpress is snowing! Squee!!
Second: On to real business. Do you, like our subject, get tired of being a woman in academic medicine? Longer hours for less recognition, a dismal rate of awards and prizes.. or is that just the nature of the field?
By Pauline Chen, M.D.
I recently learned that a doctor friend had seriously considered quitting her job at her medical school to go into private practice. As long as I have known her, she has talked about her love for teaching new doctors and conducting research while still caring for patients. Nonetheless, I wasn’t surprised to hear the reason she wanted to leave.
“I got tired of being a woman in academic medicine,” she said.
She recounted how, much more than her male colleagues, she would be assigned to work during major holidays, cover for others’ absences and sit on administrative committees that took time away from the research required to advance her career. When she spoke to her chairman about the discrepancies, he listened — but never responded to her repeated requests for a raise or more support.
What surprised me, however, was what finally persuaded her to stay. When she described her situation to some male colleagues, they listened attentively, then began relaying their frustrations with how little support they got from superiors.
“It’s hard being a woman here, but I concluded it’s not that great for anyone else either,” she said.
Sadly, her assessment seems to be correct, according to a recent study on the experiences of women and men working in medical schools.
Academic medical centers — institutions that have as their primary mission the training of new doctors, medical research and comprehensive clinical care – have long played a crucial role in how medicine is practiced in the United States. While historically most doctors were men, medical schools began broadening their admissions policies a little over a generation ago, so that women soon made up anywhere from a third to half of all students and trainees and an increasing percentage of the professors.
But in 2000, a landmark national survey of those working in these institutions revealed that gender bias was widespread. More than half of the women professors surveyed reported being discriminated against or sexually harassed, even as most of their male colleagues believed that such disparities in their institutions did not exist. Other studies found that women faculty members continued to make less money than their male peers, were promoted more slowly and even fared worse in academia’s most revered expression of meritocracy, the peer-review process.
Some researchers attributed the persistent issue to a “pipeline problem,” insufficient numbers of senior level women in medicine, particularly in certain specialties like surgery. Other experts postulated that women were more sensitive to unfair treatment because they tended to be more relationship-oriented than their male colleagues. Still others offered up what amounted to a tautological zinger: by choosing not to leave academic medicine, women simply had more opportunities to experience harassment.
The latest study, conducted as part of the National Initiative on Gender, Culture and Leadership in Medicine and published in The Journal of General Internal Medicine, offers another reason for women’s discontent in academic medical centers: the organizational culture, or the norms of behavior and implicit values of these institutions. And it’s not just women who are feeling demoralized.
The researchers administered a 20-minute questionnaire to over 2,000 faculty members at more than 25 academic medical centers and asked if their work energized them, if they felt ignored or invisible, if they felt pressure to be more aggressive or compromise their values and if their institution promoted altruistic and public service values.
As in earlier studies, more women than men felt marginalized and discriminated against, despite being as ambitious and engaged in work as their male colleagues. Many of the women also described a lack of trust in their institutions or little confidence that the discrimination they were experiencing would ever be addressed.
But both women and men expressed similarly negative feelings about a lack of support from their institutions for their work. And the men were just as likely as the women to feel what experts have termed “moral distress,” a sense of being trapped and forced to compromise on what one believes is right or just.
“We have this dehumanizing organizational culture in academic medicine that doesn’t allow people to realize their potential or be as vital and productive as they can be,” said the lead author, Dr. Linda H. Pololi, a senior scientist at Brandeis University who is also the director of the initiative. “It’s hard to ignore the far-reaching consequences of a work environment that has trouble modeling compassion and care.”
Based on this study and their earlier work, Dr. Pololi and her initiative collaborators have begun offering mentoring programs for faculty members, both female and male, at a handful of medical schools around the country. The program involves reading, writing and regular group exercises and discussions aimed at developing leadership skills and promoting a more open environment. In the Department of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, a preliminary survey has shown that the mentoring program, which has just begun its third year at the school, has already helped to increase the degree of trust among faculty members.
While it remains to be seen whether these changes will endure, it has become clearer that men, as well as women, stand to benefit from any improvement. “It is shocking that the situation for women in academic medicine hasn’t changed that much in the last 10 years,” Dr. Pololi said. “But it’s not always easy to notice the quality of an organization’s culture.”
She added: “That culture is like the air we breathe or the water that fish swim in. It has the potential, for better or worse, to affect everybody in the same way.”
Need a STEM mentor? Free! September 21, 2012Posted by The Raise Project in Career, Women in Science.
Tags: community, Engineering, high school science, highschool, lesson plans, math, online, Science, STEM, students, technology, volunteer
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Do you have highschool or college-age girls who need a mentor in STEM? Women In Technology Sharing Online (WitsOn) is creating an online community of learners and mentors through the networking platform Piazza. No grades! No pressure! Just a chance to learn or, if you’re a STEM professional, give back to the community a few hours per month (while lounging in your PJs, no less).
Check it out!
Tags: Awards, cancer, career, New Zealand rocks, STEM, women, Women's Awards, Yes
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Shout out for cancer research. How do platelets help or hinder the process of treatment?
University of Otago researcher Dr Suetonia Palmer is one of three recipients of a $25,000 L’Oreal For Women in Science Fellowship, awarded in Melbourne on Tuesday.
The other two are a Melbourne researcher who battled leukemia as a teenager and a scientist recognized for her work in nanotechnology.
Dr Palmer received the award for her work in chronic kidney disease.
Working from temporary facilities as Christchurch rebuilds, she is guiding doctors and policy makers across the world as they attempt to make the best decisions for their patients.
The fellowship will take her work further and help her study what information people receive when their kidney disease worsens and they have to go on dialysis.
That usually requires four hours a day, four days a week in hospital. However, in Christchurch most people have dialysis machines at home.
Dr Palmer will determine what is best practice.
She is also a senior lecturer in the Department of Medicine.
Dr Kylie Mason from Melbourne’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute will investigate ways to reduce the side-effects of new cancer drugs and explore the role of platelets.
She has previously researched ways to extend the life of platelets, the cell fragments that manage blood clotting.
Cancer patients often need platelet transfusions but supply can be a challenge for blood banks because the cells only last five days.
Her work could pave the way to increase the blood bank life of platelets as well as helping cancer patients.
Her battle with leukemia sparked a lifelong interest and career in medicine and research.
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute director Dr Doug Hilton said Dr Mason’s personal battle with cancer had not only fueled her passion for medicine and research, but given her a unique perspective as a cancer patient, haematologist, scientist, and mother.
Melbourne scientist Dr Jia Baohua from Swinburne University of Technology was recognized for her role in developing low cost solar energy using nanotechnology to create thin-film solar cells.
RAISE in the news again August 9, 2012Posted by The Raise Project in Career.
Tags: career, feminist press, STEM, summer
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Thanks to Under The Microscope for the feature in their Summer Science Stories series! Supernaturally superb!
I am documenting my time running the RAISE project this summer. RAISE, whose acronym (Recognizing the Achievements of women In Science, technology, Engineering, math, and medicine) does great work in making sure the accomplishments of women in these fields does not go unnoticed.
The good news: more and more women and girls are entering STEM fields. But wait: why do they receive such a low percentage of awards, honors, and prizes? This is what I am studying–and trying to change!–this summer.
Part of the gap is that women are less likely to tell others about their accomplishments, so they get nominated less frequently for awards. RAISE has a program to encourage women to apply. Even nominate yourself! This is totally acceptable practice for most awards. Another aspect is that gendered language can be secretly embedded into male and female writing styles. Men often use more action-oriented words, while women are less direct. People giving awards can unconsciously react to these writing styles, favoring the bolder approach.
RAISE has fun in the office, too. We love reading up on the cool new things in the STEM world. Do you like oranges? Vijayakumari Narukulla, a scientist in India, just cultivated a new disease- and virus-resistant one, so we’ll have more around the world. How about solar cells? Gcineka Mbambisa of South Africa is working on a more efficient design. Both of these gals won awards for their work.
The bottom line is: always be proud of your work! If you have worked hard, apply for an award, prize, honor, or scholarship. You never know what could come of it! And even if you don’t win, other scientists will be interested to find out about what you’ve done.
And now, off to another awards dinner to cheer on my fellow STEM rockstars!
Caption Information: Recognition can be informal, too! Pic of me (right) and my roommate, acupuncturist Laura Wong, celebrating her great work in the field of immunology. Cupcakes help the immune system, right?
About me: I am 27, getting my M.A. in international affairs at American University in Washington, D.C. I run the RAISE Project under the umbrella of the Society for Women’s Health Research.
It’s the nerves… July 17, 2012Posted by The Raise Project in Women in Science.
Tags: Education, Gender gap, mathematics, STEM
It’s the nerves! In a British study, girls and boys performed equally in math; yet in test scenarios, girls with Math Anxiety scored lower. Read the full study and abstract here.
Behavioral and Brain Functions 2012, 8:33 doi:10.1186/1744-9081-8-33
Published: 9 July 2012
Mathematics anxiety (MA), a state of discomfort associated with performing mathematical tasks, is thought to affect a notable proportion of the school age population. Some research has indicated that MA negatively affects mathematics performance and that girls may report higher levels of MA than boys. On the other hand some research has indicated that boys’ mathematics performance is more negatively affected by MA than girls’ performance is. The aim of the current study was measure girls’ and boys’ mathematics performance as well as their levels of MA while controlling for test anxiety (TA) a construct related to MA but which is typically not controlled for in MA studies.
Four-hundred and thirty three British secondary school children in school years 7, 8 and 10 completed customised mental mathematics tests and MA and TA questionnaires.
No gender differences emerged for mathematics performance but levels of MA and TA were higher for girls than for boys. Girls and boys showed a positive correlation between MA and TA and a negative correlation between MA and mathematics performance. TA was also negatively correlated with mathematics performance, but this relationship was stronger for girls than for boys. When controlling for TA, the negative correlation between MA and performance remained for girls only. Regression analyses revealed that MA was a significant predictor of performance for girls but not for boys.
The results indicate that, in a British secondary school sample, girls report higher levels of MA than boys. Anxiety experienced by boys may simply reflect general test anxiety, whereas girls experience specific anxiety towards mathematics, which is above and beyond any general anxiety associated with testing situations. Speculatively, girls may have had the potential to outperform boys in maths, but their higher levels of MA may have attenuated their performance. As MA can lead to the development of negative attitudes towards mathematics and drop-out from mathematics classes, MA warrants attention in the classroom.
RAISE in the News July 11, 2012Posted by The Raise Project in Women in Science.
Tags: Awards, Gender gap, STEM, Women's Awards
There is something satisfying about being in a news write-up. Txchnologist covers the implicit biases and some of the figures (including those from RAISE’s own carefully cleaned dataset) regarding women in STEM and female STEM award-winners.
Despite the push in the last decade to close the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, women are still vastly underrepresented in these careers. But recent research shows the issue runs deeper than just jobs. Compared to men, women receive far fewer scientific awards and prizes than expected based on their representation in nomination pools.
This disparity, researchers found, is likely due to implicit or unconscious biases against women scientists that begin early in life. Numerous studies of school-aged children have found that when they’re asked to draw a scientist, they overwhelmingly depict an older white man working alone. Researchers have found that these biases can be curbed with education.
“I think counteracting these biases is going to be an ongoing process,” says Anne Lincoln, a sociologist at Southern Methodist University in Texas. “If little boys and girls are still drawing scientists that only look like men, I think that’s an indication this is still an issue.”
In 1968, the late sociologist Robert Merton coined the “Matthew effect,” which describes how famous scientists get more credit for collaborative research than their lesser-known colleagues, even if they took the backseat on a project. Twenty-five years later, science historian Margaret Rossiter noticed a similar thing happening to women scientists, whose work was often credited to men or glossed over completely. She called this sociological phenomenon the “Matilda effect.”
“The idea is that scientists strive to be unbiased and objective,” says Lincoln, who is the lead author of a study published in the April 2012 issue of the journal Social Studies of Science. “But if we’re overlooking scientific discoveries based on gender, that’s not a very scientific practice.”
And the implications matter: many female scientists aren’t getting their due recognition and, more important, girls and young women aspiring to enter science and engineering fields aren’t getting a chance to take them on as role models.
The Matilda effect in action
In the mid-2000s, study coauthor Stephanie Pincus noticed something peculiar: Though many female scientists were reaching the pinnacle of their careers, very few of them seemed to be receiving awards or fellowships for their work. Was this an example of the Matilda effect or was something else going on?
To find out, Pincus and her colleagues at the Society for Women’s Health Research developed an immense database of scientific awards and prizes, which noted the year and recipient of each prize. “And, indeed, they found that women tend to not be the winners of the awards,” Lincoln says.
Surely many female scientists were qualified to win the awards, so why were they being snubbed? And did the scientific societies that bestow the awards realize this was happening?
They decided to dig deeper.
The team collected publicly available data on awards given out by 13 STEM societies, such as the Society for Neuroscience and the American Statistical Association, between 1991 and 2010. While awards given to female scientists increased by nearly 79 percent over the two decades, the researchers realized women weren’t actually being recognized for their scientific achievements—between 2001 and 2010, women won only 10 percent of the prestigious scholarly awards. During the same period, they earned 32 percent of service awards and 37 percent of teaching awards.
Women-only prizes further masked the skewed recognition, Lincoln says. In one society, women won 22 of the 108 awards given out in 2001-2010. But 10 of those awards were for women only. So, on the surface it appears as though women won about 20 percent of the awards, but they really only won 12 percent of those that were also open to their male colleagues.
Overall, men were more than eight times more likely than women to win a scholarly award in 2001-2010, the researchers found.
Lincoln and her colleagues then looked at seven of the professional societies’ award nomination and selection process to discover which factors affected women’s chances of winning. “We asked the societies to collect more information for us — not just who’s in the award committees, but also who’s in the nomination and how they’re picking their winners,” Lincoln says. “We wanted them to paint a picture of the process for us.”
The researchers found that men chaired 94 percent of the committees, which typically had five or six members, and 42 percent of the committees had no female members whatsoever. Women comprised about 17 percent of all nominations for annual awards. They were nominated for more service and teaching awards than scholarly accolades.
Men were twice as likely to win a scholarly award as women, regardless of how many male nominees were considered for the prize. Furthermore, committees chaired by men gave women awards 5 percent of the time, even though women made up about 20 percent of the nomination pools for these particular prizes. Women won the award 23 percent of the time with committees chaired by women — their odds also increased with each woman on the committee.
Lincoln says the results suggest the committee members had implicit biases and were unconsciously subscribing to the culturally held belief that men’s scholarly efforts are more important than women’s.
Making a change
Lincoln and her team approached the presidents of the seven societies with their results. “[The presidents] were very interested and had no idea they were making these discriminatory assessments,” Lincoln says. “They just wanted the best scientific work recognized.”
In 2010, the researchers held a workshop for the societies’ leaders covering their findings. The members were floored. Soon after, the societies drafted workshop summaries for future award committee members to read.
While optimistic about the change, Lincoln would like to see another year of data to tell if the workshop is having an affect. And the next step, she notes, is to approach more STEM societies.
“Since the workshop took place, the percentage of women winning scholarly awards jumped substantially” in these professional societies, Lincoln says.
Go Pam Maynard! July 9, 2012Posted by The Raise Project in Award Winners, Featured Prize, Women in Science.
Tags: Awards, STEM, tech, technology, women, Women's Awards
If blueprints aren’t your thing, it doesn’t mean you should rule out a career in Tech. There are such a wide variety of jobs in the field. Thanks for your insight, Ms. Maynard. And congrats on winning your First Women Award!
By Pam Maynard
At the very end of last month Real Business announced the winners of the 2012 First Women Awards. Designed to recognize pioneering women whose achievements open opportunities for others, the awards showcase the wealth of career opportunities available for women in the science and technology sectors, aiming to inspire more women into the profession by highlighting the success of leading women in the field.
This year I was one of the lucky ones to be honored with a win in the First Women of Science & Technology category.
I have been in the technology industry for over 15 years and can truly say that I enjoy my work and always look to push myself beyond the boundaries – both real and perceived – of being a female in the sector. The sad fact however is that despite ongoing efforts, technology remains a less-thought of career path for female graduates.
The key misconception out there is that women simply can’t have a successful career in technology. This is absolutely not true and is something that we should all be working to change. We need to get more women into technology at an early age but to do so we need to be able to highlight powerful examples of women who are excelling in their careers. If you look at organizations in the UK like Capgemini, Accenture and Microsoft, and other FTSE 100 companies you can find very successful females with technology-focused careers – the challenge now is to make sure we are raising their profiles as high as they can go.
Another misconception about technology as a career is that it is very narrow in scope. In fact, a career in technology is so much broader – it is not just about developing technology solutions and technology companies do not have to be full of technologists. There is a huge set of different roles that sit around the delivery of a technology solution and require different skillsets. Whether it is project management or business analysis, these types of roles often come with an increased requirement for collaboration – one of the softer skills found more in women than men. If companies want to start bringing in more female talent, they need to get better at recognizing and defining the skillset they require from employees and reflecting this back in their recruitment efforts.
If I were going to use my recent win as a platform to speak to girls considering a career in technology my first piece of advice above all else would be for them to have confidence in their value. Today’s young women need to have more self-belief and recognize the value in the unique skills and experience that they can bring to the sector. Males and females bring different skillsets to any work place and a balanced gender mix is optimal for the success of any business.
Among Doctors, Too, Women Are Paid Less July 3, 2012Posted by The Raise Project in Career, Women in Science.
Tags: career, Gender gap, Medicine, STEM, women, WTF?
Chosen because of their similarity to one another in professional interests, aptitude and ambition, the doctors in the study each had received a highly prestigious research grant early in their careers and worked in academic medical centers.
The study controlled for specialty, publications, academic rank, hours worked and leadership positions…
Result: a man *still* made an average of $12,000 more annually than a woman.
Dr. Pauline Chen
Brilliant and hard-working, my younger colleague had just returned from delivering one of the main talks at a national medical meeting. All of us viewed the invitation to speak as an acknowledgment of her great potential, so when I asked her about the conference, I expected her to bubble over about the accolades she’d heard and the plum job offers she’d received from competing medical centers.
But she hardly smiled as she recounted her experiences.
“During the question-and-answer session I kept falling back on phrases like ‘maybe,’ ‘perhaps’ and ‘I guess so,’ ” she said. Though she had the experience and data to rebut even the most aggressive or erroneous challenges from doctors in the audience, her tentative manner seemed to leave her vulnerable to doubts and even more questioning.
What’s more, she added, she had noticed that many of the other female speakers responded to their audiences as she had, with wavering and hesitant replies, while most of the men answered “with such confidence and bravado that we women looked pretty amateur in comparison.”
The experience had shaken my colleague’s quiet confidence. “I always thought the strength of my work was all that mattered in medicine,” she said. “Now I can’t help but wonder if other factors are involved.”
This was not the first time I had heard a colleague speculate on how her sex might affect the way others treated her professionally, but we all thought medicine was one of the few careers in which men and women working the same hours and producing comparable results in similar specialties would be paid and promoted equally. While some studies found income disparities between male and female doctors, researchers chalked up their findings to the fact that fewer women worked in higher-paying specialties and more men worked longer hours.
But a study published recently in The Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that medicine may not be so meritocratic after all.
Researchers analyzed the professional trajectories of almost 2,000 midcareer physician-researchers. Chosen because of their similarity to one another in professional interests, aptitude and ambition, the doctors in the study each had received a highly prestigious research grant early in their careers and worked not in private practice but in academic medical centers. The researchers examined a wide range of career factors, including the number of hours worked, professional achievements, leadership positions, marital status, parental status and salary.
As in some earlier studies, the researchers found a difference in income, with a male doctor’s annual salary averaging just over $200,000 and a female’s averaging about $168,000. And like previous researchers, they found that the female doctors tended to be in lower-paying specialties, have fewer publications, work fewer hours and hold fewer administrative leadership positions.
But when these researchers ran the numbers again, this time adjusting for differences in specialty, publications, academic rank, hours worked and leadership positions, they found that the expected average salary for women still fell behind that of their male colleagues. The male doctors made over $12,000 per year more than the women. Calculated over the course of a 30-year career, the income gap based on sex alone amounted to over $350,000.
“We really didn’t expect to find such a substantial unexplained difference,” said Dr. Reshma Jagsi, lead author and an associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan. “In Michigan, that amount buys you a house, your kids’ education or a nice nest egg for retirement.”
There may be several reasons for this income difference. A previous study by a group of psychologists, for example, showed that when presented with identical résumés, one from a man and one from a woman, employers of both sexes were more likely to hire the man. A similar unconscious bias is likely to exist among doctors, influencing how much female physicians are paid and promoted. “It’s not like the medical centers or the department heads are evil,” Dr. Jagsi said. “The problem is that sometimes in medicine we think we are immune to these pervasive biases.”
Male and female doctors may also interact differently with their superiors when talking about payment and promotions. Women in other fields have been shown to negotiate less aggressively than their male peers. In medicine, that would mean women are less inclined to ask for more money and less likely to leverage offers from competing institutions or practices.
While the current study looks at only one small and homogeneous subset of physicians, the findings are probably applicable to many more doctors. “The men and women we studied were the go-getters,” Dr. Jagsi said. “You have to worry that if you see such disparities among this group, you will see at least the same, if not more, differences among other groups of physicians.”
Dr. Jagsi believes that greater transparency would decrease, and even eliminate, the income differences. Currently, it is difficult for most doctors to know if they are being paid fairly “since most institutions don’t have clear policies on how to determine salaries,” she noted. But standardizing the process of compensation and career advancement would make everyone involved more accountable for such decisions and “allow men and women to be paid as much as the work they are doing is worth,” she said.
“Society makes a huge investment in every medical trainee,” Dr. Jagsi said. “If we make that kind of investment, we need to ensure that compensation and advancement are fair.”
She added, “It comes down to a matter of basic fairness.”