Study Offers a Roadmap to Reduce Bias and Increase the Number of Women in STEM Research

Last December a group of 23 scientists met at the Banbury Center in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, to discuss ways to reduce bias and increase the number of women in STEM research positions. Their findings were recently released in a paper published in Science magazine. The lead author of the study is Carol Greider, Daniel Nathans Professor in the department of molecular biology and genetics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore. Professor Greider won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 2009.

The authors state that “women experience substantial, gender-specific barriers that can impede their advancement in research careers. These include unconscious biases that negatively influence the perception of women’s abilities, as well as social and cultural factors like those that lead to an unequal distribution of domestic labor. Additionally, sexual and gender-based harassment is a widespread and pernicious impediment to the retention and advancement of women in many STEM–related fields.”

The authors recommend several steps that need to be taken:

  • Treat sexual harassment in a manner parallel to scientific misconduct.
  • Require investigators to disclose harassment findings and settlements to funding agencies and potential employers.
  • Establish mechanisms to protect the careers of harassment victims.
  • Transparency in start-up packages, salaries, and internal grant funding.
  • Fostering work-life balance through family-friendly policies.
  • Promoting and ensuring effective mentorship.

The full report, “Increasing Gender Diversity in the STEM Research Workforce,” may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Gender GapResearch/StudySTEM Fields


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