Seven Actionable Strategies for Institutions to Improve Gender Equity in STEM
Focus on Direct Financial Support
This strategy would enable grantees to use award funds for family-related expenses, such as childcare and eldercare, that would allow individuals to travel to meetings, conferences, and workshops that may be important for early career advancement. These awards would be gender neutral and the Working Group has called for biomedical funders to implement this policy.
This recommendation suggests that grant making organizations and institutions set up gender-neutral award programs that would provide primary caregivers funding to hire technicians, administrative assistants, or postdoctoral fellows when they become primary caregivers.
Focus on Psychological & Cultural Change
Organizations that fund research and convene meetings should assemble gender-balanced review and speaker selection committees. Research has shown that the presence of one woman on a speaker selection committee correlates with much higher proportion of invited female speakers. The Working Group believes that women on review committees would see similar results with a higher proportion of female applicants being awarded grants.
To mitigate the subtle and unconscious gender biases that exist throughout society, and specifically in science, it is suggested that grant-making organizations include “implicit bias statements” into their external review processes.
Institutions, grant makers, and scientists must commit to education as a tool to make progress towards gender equality, for example, through hosting and providing training seminars, workshops, and discussions, and share these resources with the scientific and lay community as widely as possible.
Major Collaborative & International Initiatives
The IWISE Working Group recommended that a set of quantifiable criteria be analyzed to develop an Institutional Report Card for Gender Equality that would evaluate institutions on a specified set of practices resulting in a gender equality grade being assigned. Eventually, grant-making organizations should implement policies that would require potential grantee intuitions to maintain a certain grade to be eligible for funding.
The final recommendation suggests that funders, journals, and intuitions should partner with existing organizations to develop and expand existing, searchable databases of women in science, engineering, and medicine. These resources will make it easier for search committees, conference organizers, institutions, and others to easily identify women scientists for positions and activities such as speaking opportunities, participation in review committees, serving on advisory boards, and others.
Reference: “Seven Actionable Strategies for Advancing Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine“ by Smith K., Arlotta P., Watt F.M., The Initiative on Women in Science and Engineering Working Group, and Solomon S.L., Cell Stem Cell (2015)