Dear Colleagues, 

I am pleased to include another issue of RFS Briefings with some timely and encouraging updates on women in science.

Please continue to share important news and opportunities with us so that we may share it with you, and others who are committed to supporting the careers of exceptional women in science. 

Stay safe and sound

Karla Shepard Rubinger
Executive Director
Rosalind Franklin Society

House science committee chair leaves bipartisan legacy as she bids farewell. 

Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D–TX) recently announced she would not seek a 16th 2-year term next fall, making her the 16th House Democrat to announce their departure in this election cycle. “Johnson is the first Black woman to chair the committee. Over the past 3 years she has teamed with the panel’s top Republican, Representative Frank Lucas (OK), to stake out a centrist position on a host of challenges facing the U.S. scientific community, from China’s growing scientific prowess to research misconduct,” writes Jeffrey Mervis. Read more.

The gene-synthesis revolution.
Researchers can now design and mass-produce genetic material — a technique that helped build the mRNA vaccines. What could it give us next? These fabulous female founders at Twist Bioscience and Ginkgo Bioworks were speakers at the RFS meeting last winter! Read more. Watch Emily Leproust’s RFS presentation here and Reshma Shetty’s presentation here.

There’s a lot of financial aid available to women pursuing STEM careers.
“Having access to scholarships can help to alleviate some of the burden that women face today, and it is vital to them receiving an education that will get them the same seat at a table as their fellow male classmates,” said Sasha Ramani, associate director of corporate strategy at MPOWER Financing, which offers scholarships to women pursuing STEM careers. Read more.

If academia better supported women scientists like me, I may have opted to stay.
Avika Dixit, director of clinical development at Moderna Therapeutics, encourages institutions to look closely at the challenges early-career researchers, especially scientist mothers, face and develop policies that give them a reason to stay. “We cannot afford to give up on closing the gender gap. The next medical discovery may depend on it,” she says. Read more.

Stereotypes about girls dissuade many from careers in computer science.
In a peer-reviewed study, researchers found that stereotypes about girls’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math – or lack thereof – are fairly widespread among young people today. They also found that stereotypes actually have an effect on girls’ motivation and sense of belonging in computer science and engineering. Read more.

Zena Stein, 99, dies; researcher championed women’s health.
Dr. Zena Stein, a South African-born epidemiologist whose influential work encompassed the effects of famine on children, the health of entire communities afflicted by poverty and the impact of the AIDS crisis on women in Africa, died on Nov. 7 at her home in Coatesville, Pa. She was 99. Read more.

Outcry as men win outsize share of Australian medical-research funding.
According to an analysis, men secure a greater share of medical-research funding than women in Australia’s largest grant-award program, despite applying at similar rates. The issue was first flagged by researchers in 2019; however, this time, nearly 6,000 people have signed a petition calling for the introduction of gender quotas, Holly Else reports. Read more.

MIT Future Founders Initiative announces prize competition to promote female entrepreneurs in biotech.

Despite increasing representation at MIT, female science and engineering faculty found biotech startups at a disproportionately low rate compared with their male colleagues, according to research led by the initiative’s founders, MIT Professor Sangeeta Bhatia, MIT Professor and President Emerita Susan Hockfield, and MIT Amgen Professor of Biology Emerita Nancy Hopkins. Read more.

Inside one designer’s career championing STEM for girls.
Janese Swanson is an American innovator and software developer who has advocated for girls’ education in STEM throughout her decades-long career. She codeveloped the first of the Carmen Sandiego educational games and is the founder of Girl Tech, a first-of-its-kind company that created products to spark young girls’ interest in technology. She spoke to Doreen Lorenzo for Designing Women, a series of interviews with brilliant women in the design industry. Read more.

Why equal representation in science is essential.
“Change has happened, but the glass ceiling is incredibly resistant in research and innovation,” says Alexandra Palt, executive vice president of the Fondation L’Oréal and creator of the For Women in Science Festival with UNESCO, which will celebrate the world’s leading, and most inspiring, female scientists on December 7. Read more.

5 things you didn't know about Marie Curie.
Here are some fun facts about this radiant woman who paved the path for other female scientists to follow: she didn't have a fancy lab, she was a World War I hero, Albert Einstein was a huge Marie Curie fan, and more. Read more.

Deepsea scientist honoured for mentoring of women in science.

Di Tracey, a deep-sea fisheries and ecology scientist at NIWA, has been awarded the 2021 Miriam Dell Award by the Association for Women in the Sciences (AWIS) for her advocacy for and mentoring of women working in science. Photo by NIWA. Read more.

Women Invent and the power of media representation.
To celebrate 20 years of STEM with Silicon Republic, they highlight a very brief sample of just some of the amazing women they have profiled over the years across a range of disciplines from both Ireland and abroad. Read more. 

Marianna Limas, Social Media Manager
Nilda Rivera, Partnership and Events Manager