The following are ways to help counter the effects of bias and unfair treatment that women scientists still face at times.
Adopt allies: Your colleagues, both male and female, can be enlisted to help counteract conscious and unconscious bias against women in life science. Ask them to. . .
- Refrain from being on a panel that is predominantly male when that does not reflect the organization’s membership.
- Sponsor a woman for a job.
- Be vocally supportive when a woman offers a good idea that is met with silence.
Talk with a participant who routinely talks over women more than men in meetings.
Ask funding agencies to set aside some funds for women-led businesses.
Stay in touch with your female colleagues when you move to a new position. Periodically meet with them to practice pitches, prepare for job interviews, and read each other’s papers and grant proposals.
How Can You Address Unfair Treatment of Women Scientists? Our 2019 Focus Group Results
Many women scientists we talked with have experienced unfair treatment. Two common themes were being taken advantage of in sharing the workload and not being given credit for their work.
Some women said they find themselves doing more of the foundational work that does not lead to recognition or advancement. They cautioned that a personal style of being too nice can work against you.
Other women found they were looked at unfavorably when they pointed out that they were not being given credit for their work. In these discussions, we heard the following ideas on how to communicate your contribution without looking petty:
- Being proactive and letting bosses know your accomplishments before someone can take credit was the most favored approach. To help ensure you are given appropriate credit in a publication, talk about authorship early during collaborations.
- When someone takes credit for your work in a meeting, try agreeing that you are also proud of the accomplishment and describe your role in terms of the impact or benefit for the company.
- For example, “I agree this was an accomplishment. I enjoyed [describe your contribution]. I’m glad (or proud) that we[describe the impact on the company].”
Picture a Scientist – A film that chronicles experiences of women scientists from harassment to subtle slights, with insights on how to make science “more diverse, equitable, and open to all.”
By Sharon Shattuck & Ian Cheney, Uprising Production with Wonder Collaborative