Our most recent issue of RFS Briefings has some timely and encouraging updates on women in science. Of note in particular:
- The director of the National Science Foundation, France A. Córdova, is devising strategies to boost women in science. See recent interview here.
- Jennifer A. Doudna, Ph.D., a speaker at our RFS 2014 Board Meeting in Washington, DC, is the inventor of a new genome-editing technique and is the lead author of an article calling for a worldwide moratorium on the use of the new method, to give scientists, ethicists and the public time to fully understand the issues surrounding the breakthrough.
A Meeting of Nobel Minds
Is the best kind of science useful science? The discoveries of the 2014 Nobel Laureates help us with our everyday lives. In the round-table discussion program Nobel Minds, some of today's greatest minds converse about the discoveries for which they've been honored.
2014 Annual Update
The Rosalind Franklin Society has had another impressive year, evidenced by the further accomplishments of our esteemed Board, Advisory Board, and members − and women in science everywhere − that embody our commitment to ensure that women in science are visible, contributing, and feted. We continue our efforts to broaden the reach of the Society by partnering with leading organizations who share our mission to recognize the work of outstanding women scientists, foster greater opportunities for women in the sciences, and motivate and educate by example young generations of women in science.
Why It's Crucial to Get More Women Into Science
Amid growing signs that gender bias has affected research outcomes and damaged women's health, there’s a new push to make science more relevant to them.
James Gross, a psychology professor at Stanford University, has a 13-year-old daughter who loves math and science. It hasn't occurred to her yet that that's unusual, he says. "But I know in the next couple of years, it will."
She's already being pulled out of class to do advanced things "with a couple of other kids, who are guys," he says. And as someone who studies human emotion for a profession, Gross says, "I know as time goes on, she'll feel increasingly lonely as a girl who's interested in math and science"—and be at risk of narrowing her choices in life before finding out how far she could have gone. (See "In Her Words: Sylvia Earle on Women in Science.")
Gross's concern speaks volumes about what has been a touchy subject in the world of science for a long time: Why are there still so few women in science, and how might that affect what we learn from research?
Women now make up half the national workforce, earn more college and graduate degrees than men, and by some estimates represent the largest single economic force in the world. Yet the gender gap in science persists, to a greater degree than in other professions, particularly in high-end, math-intensive fields such as computer science and engineering.
According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, women in fields commonly referred to as STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) made up 7 percent of that workforce in 1970, a figure that had jumped to 23 percent by 1990. But the rise essentially stopped there. Two decades later, in 2011, women made up 26 percent of the science workforce.