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Programs Help Women Advance in Academia February 22, 2007

Posted by Sacha in Science, Women.

Tonight I had the honour of attending my first Association of Women in Science (AWIS) meeting.  There was a panel discussion from Women in Academia, which focused on organizations that support female growth in academia.  The panelists were Dr. Claire Horner-Devine, Dr. Eve Riskin, Dr. Joyce W. Yen, and Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange.  I’m pretty sure all of the panelists worked in some way with ADVANCE, a NSF funded program that works to create institutional transformation that allows women to be successful in their education and careers at universities around the country.  Their idea is to change the institution to support faculty success for minorities instead of focusing on changing women and other minorities to fit preset roles.  Dr. Horner-Devine is also involved in Women Evolving Biological Sciences.  This is a symposium that specifically addresses women moving from early career stages to tenure track and leadership roles. 

The entire evening was very interesting and all of the panelists had a lot to contribute on the topic.  I learned a lot about ways in which the NSF tracks the success of the ADVANCE program.  One criteria they evaluate on is space allocation, in other words, lab size.  Why do women get allocated less space?  Well, you may guess that they aren’t pushy enough and while this is true, it is also true that they don’t realize they need to ask and negotiate for it.  Aspects of your job like lab space can greatly affect retention, so even if you hire 50% women, if they get shafted on the extras, they’ll leave for somewhere else eventually and you’ll still be left with less women.

Two other facts I learned is that the University of Washington is first in federal funding dollars for public institutions and second behind Hopkins out of public and private.  We also have the most post-doctoral researchers of any institution in the nation.  Incredible.     

Overall, it was a well-spent evening and I look forward to attending meetings in the future.   If you’re a scientifically minded woman in the Seattle area, feel free to stop in on a meeting.   Click here for more information.  There is also a Women in Science Happy Hour at the Allen Institute for Brain Science on March 7, 2007 at 6pm.  For more information or to RSVP, e-mail Theresa Zwingman at:
theresaz at alleninstitute dot org.   

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