Achieving gender equality in science, engineering and medicine

Posted: March 9, 2015 at 10:41 am

(March 5, 2015) - Gender equality has not yet been achieved in science, medicine, and engineering, but The New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF), through its Initiative on Women in Science and Engineering, is committed to making sure progress is made. NYSCF convened the Inaugural Meeting of its Initiative on Women in Science and Engineering (IWISE) Working Group in February 2014, where the group put forward seven actionable strategies for advancing women in science, medicine, and engineering, and reconvened in February 2015 to further develop the strategies.

NYSCF began this initiative after an analysis of its own programs. "We found that the ratio of men and women in our own programs was OK but it could certainly be improved," said Susan L. Solomon, CEO and Co-Founder, of NYSCF. "We wanted to take action and actually make tangible progress, so we brought together many of the leading men and women who have already committed time, energy, and resources towards this problem."

Today, the recommendations were published in Cell Stem Cell. They were divided into three categories: direct financial support strategies, psychological and cultural strategies, and major collaborative and international initiatives. The group chose to highlight the most high-impact and implementable strategies from a larger list developed during the meeting. They also sought to promote promising, long-term initiatives that will require significant collaboration among multiple stakeholders with the aim of connecting potential partners.

"Advancing women in science and medicine is of critical importance to the academic and research enterprise in our country," said Dr. Marc Tessier-Lavigne, President of Rockefeller University. "This paper is important as it not only brings attention to this key issue but also outlines creative strategies that can help break down barriers to gender equality in science."

Changing financing structures, embedded cultural norms, and tying funding to gender balance to enact real change are the pillars underlying the seven strategies recommended by the Working Group.

"The brain power provided by women in science is essential to sustaining a thriving US society and economy. It is time to move beyond just lamenting its loss and embrace the actions called for in this timely report," Dr. Claire Pomeroy, President, the Lasker Foundation and a member of the IWISE Working Group.

The seven strategies include:

1) Implement flexible family care spending 2) Provide "extra hands" awards 3) Recruit gender-balanced external review committees and speaker selection committees 4) Incorporate implicit bias statements 5) Focus on education as a tool 6) Create an institutional report card for gender equality 7) Partner to expand upon existing searchable databases of women in science, medicine, and engineering

The IWISE Working Group reconvened in February 2015 to continue to work on the Institutional Report Card for Gender Equality. The paper published today includes the proposed Phase 1 Institutional Report Card, and the group plans to release the Phase 2 report card once finalized.


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Achieving gender equality in science, engineering and medicine

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