Engineering Diversity

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Go beyond bias training

One morning in February 1934, the police showed up at J. Robert Oppenheimer’s home in Berkeley, California, to ask why he had left his date in a car by herself all night. Oppenheimer explained that he had gone for a stroll, got lost in his thoughts and walked home, forgetting his car and companion.

Newspapers reporting this story for Valentine’s Day revelled in tales of the absent-minded professor, an archetype that most of us recognize. Brilliant, but short on social graces, such thinkers are assumed to be too busy pondering the deepest questions of the Universe to be bothered with the quotidian.

Why it’s hard to prove gender discrimination in science

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, asked a judge on 11 May to dismiss portions of three gender-discrimination lawsuits filed by senior female scientists there in July 2017. To prove their cases, the plaintiffs are seeking to compel the Salk — a private research institution — to disclose information about how funds and laboratory space are allocated, as well as about complaints concerning sexual harassment and the unfair treatment of women.

Rethinking the Narrative of Diversity in Science
Scientific American

Esteban Burchard is Latino. He grew up in poverty, raised by a single mother, and has faced discrimination all of his life. He is now a world-renowned researcher and tenured professor at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). His “underdog story” reads like so many others told about scientists from underrepresented backgrounds. However, these narratives have become stale, overused and devoid of important context and depth.

How a Common Interview Question Fuels the Gender Pay Gap (and How to Stop It)
The New York Times

Aileen Rizo was training math teachers in the public schools in Fresno, Calif., when she discovered that her male colleagues with comparable jobs were being paid significantly more.

She was told there was a justifiable reason: Employees’ pay was based on their salaries at previous jobs, and she had been paid less than they had earlier in their careers.

6 Things Successful Women in STEM Have in Common
Harvard Business Review

For years, companies, universities and nonprofits have researched the reasons why women are less likely to enter STEM fields — and why, once they enter, they face challenges that frequently push them out. In prior research, we at the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) found that women leave STEM fields in droves: 52% of highly qualified women working for science, technology, or engineering companies leave their jobs. We, and others, have found that the cultures surrounding women in STEM have been shown, time and again, to be particularly challenging.

The Value of Collaborations for Diversity and Inclusion in Biomedicine
National Institutes of Health

“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” – Henry Ford

As has been articulated by many, team performance transcends individual strength. Certainly, this is the case for biomedical research, especially in the modern era. Team science draws together novel ideas and approaches, undergirding the value of workforce diversity for solving complex health challenges. Collaborations—across sectors and organizations—extend the concept even further. Such alliances are essential for achieving lasting health and economic impact from biomedical research, and for sustaining scientific workforce diversity, the engine that drives innovation from discovery to application.

Researchers to examine what attracts, discourages Black students in engineering education
Clemson University

A team of Clemson researchers is using a $398,263 award from the National Science Foundation’s Broadening Participation in Engineering program to examine factors that both encourage and discourage Black students from pursuing education in engineering fields. Researchers will also examine how different academic pathways in engineering vary by gender and institution type for Black students.

1+ 1 = 3 (or More): The Value of Collaborations for Diversity and Inclusion in Biomedicine
NIH Scientific Workforce Diversity Blog

“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” – Henry Ford

As has been articulated by many, team performance transcends individual strength. Certainly, this is the case for biomedical research, especially in the modern era. Team science draws together novel ideas and approaches, undergirding the value of workforce diversity for solving complex health challenges. Collaborations—across sectors and organizations—extend the concept even further. Such alliances are essential for achieving lasting health and economic impact from biomedical research, and for sustaining scientific workforce diversity, the engine that drives innovation from discovery to application.

CEO’s with Diverse Networks Create Higher Firm Value
Harvard Business Review

Leaders today hear a lot about the importance of having good networks. For example, firms with better-connected CEOs can obtain cheaper financing, and firms with well-connected board directors see better performance. We wanted to explore whether the diversity of CEOs’ networks might affect their firms.

Our study, published in the Journal of Corporate Finance, found that CEOs with strong connections to people of different demographic backgrounds and skill sets create higher firm value. We also found that this greater firm value comes from better corporate innovations and successful diversified M&As. Our work suggests that the diversity of leaders’ social networks is a key ingredient in how they grow their companies.

For women in science, busting barriers is just part of the job
The Christian Science Monitor

Once, when Alison Coil was on a grant review panel, an unusual situation arose: Applications had come in from two people at similar points in their career on similar topics. One was from a white male, the other from a woman of color.

Dr. Coil, an astrophysicist at the University of California in San Diego, remembers the reaction as being mixed. While the women on the panel generally liked the female applicant’s proposal, one white man called it “too ambitious.” The woman didn’t get the funding.

New NSF rules on sexual harassment leave many questions unanswered

The National Science Foundation (NSF) in Alexandria, Virginia, hopes that its new policy on sexual harassment will spur universities to deal more aggressively with the pervasive problem. But the additional reporting requirements, which will be officially published Monday in the Federal Register, are far from a definitive statement about how NSF plans to deal with this complex and sensitive subject.

The carefully worded notice, for example, doesn’t address whether a scientist found guilty of sexual harassment should automatically be removed from a grant. And it would not require universities to tell NSF when they launch investigations into allegations of harassment.

Why aren’t there more women in science and technology?
The Wall Street Journal

March 1, 2018

A key tenet of modern feminism is that women will have achieved equity only when they fill at least 50% of the positions once filled by men. In some fields, women have already surpassed that target—now comprising, for example, 50.7% of new American medical students, up from just 9% in 1965, and 80% of veterinary students. But the needle has hardly moved in many STEM fields—such as the physical sciences, technology, engineering and math, in which barely 20% of the students are female.

Gender Matters
Physics Today

Evidence shows that patterns of inequity in physics drive talented women out of the field. Here’s what physicists can do to overcome them. (perspective by Jennifer Blue, et al.)

In a seminar for teaching assistants, one male and one female TA stand up; the professor in charge tells the room that the male TA will get more respect from students. A woman talks to her undergraduate adviser about her desire for a PhD in physics; he replies, “You know physics is hard. Are you sure you want to try to do that?” A physics major asks a senior male professor for advice on getting into a good doctoral program; he suggests that she flirt more at conferences. In his letters of recommendation for students applying to graduate school, a professor consistently describes his male students as “brilliant” and “outstanding” while praising the women for being “conscientious” and “hardworking”; his male students are accepted to more competitive doctoral programs.

Investors Chasing Stable Returns Should Buy Firms Run by Women

When it comes to gender diversity, it’s hard to compete with the Nordics.

The region is home to the world’s three most gender-equal nations: Iceland, Norway and Finland, according to the World Economic Forum. (Sweden places 5th out of 144 while the U.S. ranks 49th.) So Nordic findings in how gender equality affects areas such as corporate life and investing may offer a glimpse of things to come for other corners of the globe.

With that in mind, the region’s biggest bank, Nordea, says a key contribution that women make to the companies they run is stable returns.

The continuing challenges for women in STEMM

Senior levels of science are male dominated, but work is underway to restore the balance. Fiona McMillan reports.

International Women’s Day, on March 8, is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It’s also an annual call to action on gender parity.

In light of this, what does the future look like for women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine, or STEMM for short?

After all, quite a lot is riding on the answer. Our ability to address a wide range of current and future challenges — in climate, resource sustainability, food security, and health to name a few — will require advances in STEMM fields, as well as the insight and strategies to effectively use that new knowledge.

Sexual harassment pervades science. This scientist is talking to Congress about how to change that (interview with Kathryn Clancy)
Stat News

Kathryn Clancy has spent years studying the many ways sexual harassment pervades science, from university research labs to field biology sites. This week, she’s taking those findings to Congress.

The University of Illinois anthropology professor has found that harassment against women — and in particular, women of color — runs rampant in the space sciences. She’s surveyed researchers about the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and assault during scientific field work. She’s called out universities — which she says haven’t done enough to create change in research labs — to her thousands of Twitter followers.

Gender Analysis Of Invention Disclosures And Companies Founded By Stanford University Faculty From 2000-2014

This study examined gender differences in entrepreneurship by faculty at a major U.S. research university using data from the Stanford Office of Technology Licensing from 2000-2014 and relevant public data. Differences in participation by men and women faculty in reporting inventions were observed based on the total number of invention disclosures and the number of faculty who disclosed during the study period. As demonstrated through invention disclosures, women faculty increasingly engaged in offering their discoveries for possible commercial development to benefit the public. However, they remain much less likely than their men counterparts to be involved with start-up companies and in leadership roles among companies licensing university-generated intellectual property. Universities can track these activities through their licensing offices to devise strategies that encourage and facilitate the engagement of women faculty with technology transfer and formation of new companies.

Keywords: gender analysis, invention disclosures, companies founded by stanford University, stanford university, technology licensing, 2000-2014

The Future Of Women Engineers

Women only make up 24% of the computing workforce – and that number is declining. In fact, four out of ten women are leaving STEM careers despite engineering and computer science jobs being some of the fastest growing and highest paying around the world.

With computer science and engineering fields having the highest return on investment compared to any other field of study, these jobs play an important role in the future of women and our world. Not only will bringing more women into these jobs stimulate innovation but it’s one of the best ways to help women and girls break the cycle of poverty in developing nations in regions like Southeast Asia.

Focus on Faculty: The time is now
NIH Scientific Workforce Diversity Blog

As NIH Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity, my main goal is to promote scientific workforce diversity as a means to institutional excellence as I have described in previous blogs. To accomplish this, I must maintain a pulse on what is happening at NIH, in our own labs, as well as at NIH-funded institutions around the country. For academia in particular, what do we see when we track the demographics across the career path from training to independent faculty positions?

What we see is promising, but only partial success. Indeed, we have enhanced the diversity among biomedical research trainees considerably (strengthened the STEM pipeline), but with little impact further up the career ladder. Diversifying academic faculty and leadership remains an unsolved challenge and a missed opportunity for bringing diverse thought and experience to biomedical research. Doing so will not only assure that our research priorities address the full range of biomedical research challenges facing our nation, but it will also catalyze excellence in research quality. It is essential that we establish a diverse population of faculty and leaders as role models for the next generation of scientists.

How Women Mentors Make a Difference in Engineering
The Atlantic

For some women, enrolling in an engineering course is like running a psychological gauntlet. If they dodge overt problems like sexual harassment, sexist jokes, or poor treatment from professors, they often still have to evade subtler obstacles like the implicit tendency to see engineering as a male discipline. It’s no wonder women in the U.S. hold just 13 to 22 percent of the doctorates in engineering, compared to an already-low 33 percent in the sciences as a whole.

Diversity for the Future: Accelerating Change and Sustainability
NIH Scientific Workforce Diversity Blog

As I’ve noted in previous blogs and elsewhere, I see enhancing workforce diversity as an opportunity and an imperative for maintaining our nation’s biomedical research preeminence in an increasingly competitive global environment. But to grasp this opportunity, we as a biomedical community face a set of cross-cutting challenges ripe for innovative, evidence-based solutions. In an article I co-authored with NIH Director Francis Collins, we proposed that sustainability of efforts to enhance diversity in the scientific workforce will unleash boundless opportunities to benefit the full ecosystem of biomedical research spanning discovery to application. In this blog, I expand on how we might address sustainability with the goal of accelerating diversity and inclusion in the scientific workforce. But let me first draw your attention to some relevant facts regarding NIH’s diversity efforts in the training phase of the biomedical research career path, and how the data allows us to set the stage for sustainable and rapid change.

Science remains male-dominated
The Economist

MARCH 8th was International Women’s Day. That seemed to Elsevier, an academic publisher, a good occasion to publish a report looking at the numbers and performance of female scientists around the world. The report, “Gender in the Global Research Landscape”, analysed the authorship of more than 62m peer-reviewed papers published in 27 subject areas over the past 20 years, in 11 mostly rich countries and in the European Union as a whole. The papers and their citations are indexed in Scopus, a database that is run by Elsevier.

Opinion: five ways to guarantee women can speak up and speak out
Financial Times

Over years of working in government and in academia, I have been able to study the practical ways in which the most effective male leaders value, praise, and advance women every day in their professional lives. Here are the five outstanding techniques I have seen deployed:

1. Always give a woman credit when she deserves it. In any meeting or discussion involving men and women, whenever a man makes a point ask yourself if he is repeating something a woman has already said. If so, simply say, “Yes, that’s the point that Jennifer made earlier; it’s an important contribution.” Or, “Thanks for bringing Jennifer’s point back to our attention.”

Black Students at Top Colleges: Exceptions, Not the Rule

A generation has been lost in the journey towards race equality in terms of income. The income gap between blacks and whites has been stuck since 1980. Why? Dozens of factors count, of course, but one in particular is worth further exploration: the underrepresentation of black students in elite colleges. As I noted in a previous blog, this could help to explain why blacks earn less than whites, even in the same occupation and with the same level of education.

Beyond “The Pipeline”: Reframing Science’s Diversity Challenge
Scientific American

One of the most commonly used metaphors for describing the solution for growing and diversifying America’s scientific talent pool is the “STEM pipeline.” Major policy reports have called on the U.S. to enlarge it so it does not fall behind other nations. Scholars and the popular press have highlighted the need to fix pipeline “leaks” that result in the disproportionate losses of women and minorities. While this metaphor has been helpful in focusing attention on careers in science, I am increasingly convinced that it fails us because it limits our view of the problems and their solutions. Further, these failures are actually hindering efforts to enhance scientific diversity–that is, cultivating talent, and promoting the full inclusion of excellence across the social spectrum.