RFS Briefings - December 11, 2019

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

A few highlights to focus on here include submission information for upcoming awards and prizes:

  • The Vilcek Foundation, in partnership with The Arnold P. Gold Foundation, is seeking nominations for the 2020 Vilcek-Gold Award for Humanism in Healthcare, through January 22, 2020. Read more.

  • The Arnold P. Gold Foundation is seeking nominations for the 2020 Pearl Birnbaum Hurwitz Humanism in Healthcare Award, through January 31, 2020. Read more.

  • Applications for the NOSTER Science Microbiome Prize is now open to young research investigators, with a submission deadline of January 24, 2020.

  • Applications for the 2020 Women in STEM Entrepreneurial Challenge are now being accepted, with a deadline of January 31. Candidates in the Tri-State area ((New Jersey, New York or Pennsylvania) are eligible.

See below for more news about 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.

With best wishes for happy & healthy holidays,

Karla Signature

Karla Shepard Rubinger
Executive Director
Rosalind Franklin Society

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, Flint Whistleblower, Receives the Vilcek-Gold Award for Humanism in Healthcare

The Vilcek Foundation, in partnership with The Arnold P. Gold Foundation, presented the inaugural 2019 Vilcek-Gold Award for Humanism in Healthcare to Dr. Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician and associate professor at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. This immigrant-designated humanism honor was presented at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Learn Serve Lead meeting in Phoenix, AZ. Dr. Mona (as she is called) rose to national prominence as a whistleblower of the Flint water crisis having discovered dangerously high lead levels in her young patients in 2014. The nomination period for the 2020 Prize is December 2, 2019 – January 22, 2020. Read more.

Nominations Now Open for the 2020 Pearl Birnbaum Hurwitz Humanism in Healthcare Award

The Arnold P. Gold Foundation is seeking nominations for the 2020 Pearl Birnbaum Hurwitz Humanism in Healthcare Award, through January 31. This prestigious award, open to professionals in any field, is presented to a woman who has demonstrated “the values of humanism, empathy, and compassion in her work with underserved or marginalized populations in the healthcare arena.’” Read more.

The Big Business of Unconscious Bias

The diversity, equity, and inclusion industry (D.E.I or D & I) is “booming,” according to an article in The New York Times, as institutions and businesses attempt to correct power imbalances. A 2016 report from the Harvard Business Review argues that so-called sensitivity training, popular in the ‘80s and ‘90s, is deemed as no longer acceptable and in fact can be ineffectual and even cause resentment. Millennials, who will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025, are an impetus for this growth in D.E.I. which is on its way to becoming a new profession, with some major universities offering certificate programs and online courses, for example. Read more.

NIH Adds Five Lasker Clinical Research Scholars

To continue building a pipeline of exemplary clinical scientists, the National Institutes of Health, in partnership with the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, has selected five exceptional early stage scientists as Lasker Research Scholars. The new researchers join 23 Lasker Scholars hired since 2012. Three of the five recent awardees are women: Joanna Klubo-Gwiezdzinska, MD, PhD, whose work focuses on finding optimal options for the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer; Paule Joseph, PhD, RN, FNP-BC, who conducts studies to improve the diagnosis, prevention, and management of chemosensory disorders and symptoms; and, Nirali Shah, MD, who is developing therapies to treat high-risk hematologic malignancies in children, adolescents, and young adults. Read more.

Tri-State Women in STEM Entrepreneurship Challenge 2020

Applications for the 2020 Women in STEM Entrepreneurial Challenge are now being accepted, with a deadline of January 31. Sponsored by the Association for Women in Science (New Jersey) to encourage women to embrace entrepreneurial ventures, awards will be offered to three lucrative business plans submitted by Tri-State area women in STEM (New Jersey, New York or Pennsylvania).  Read more.

The NOSTER and Science Microbiome Prize

The NOSTER Science Microbiome Prize, an international prize, is open to research investigators under age 35 who are working on the functional attributes pf the microbiota. The submission, a research essay, is due by January 24, 2020. The winner and finalists will be chosen by a committee of independent scientists chaired by a senior editor at Science. The top prize includes $25,000 (USD), a complimentary membership to AAAS, and a subscription to Science. Read more.

Increasing Gender Diversity in the STEM Research Workforce

The significant, gender-specific barriers that can impede women’s advancement in research careers in STEM fields have been well-documented, including unconscious biases, social and cultural factors, and sexual harassment. Less is known, however, about how research institutions and funding agencies can best address these problems, according to a recent paper in Science, whose authors include RFS Board members Carol W. Grieder, Nancy Hopkins, and Joan A. Steitz. The authors identify “specific, potentially high-impact policy changes that build upon existing mechanisms for research funding and governance and that can be rapidly implemented to counteract barriers facing women in science.” The paper is an outcome a meeting of a diverse group of scientists held in December 2018 at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in NY to address increasing gender diversity in the STEM research workforce.  Read more.

Physicist Claims Men Are Inherently Better Suited for a Career in Physics than Women

The Quantitative Science Studies journal controversially published a paper that claims men are better suited for a career in physics than women and concludes that women don’t face any more career hurdles than their male counterparts. The author and physicist, Alessandro Strumia, examined 1.3 million physics papers, published from 1970 to this year. After identifying the authors by gender, he attempted to explain how quickly women with PhDs in physics are hired, how soon they publish papers, and how long they continue to do so. A commentary on this paper by Science News reveals that Qualitative Science Studies’ editorial team admitted to Science News that “’it’s aware of the paper’s flaws,’” raising questions as to why it decided to publish the paper at all. Read more.

Discrimination, Abuse, Harassment, and Burnout in Surgical Residency Training

Physicians, especially trainees and those in surgical subspecialties, are at risk for burnout and suicidal thoughts, with mistreatment such as discrimination, verbal or physical abuse, and sexual harassment contributing factors. A cross-sectional survey of 7409 general surgery residents from all 262 surgical residency programs found that rates of all mistreatment measures were higher among women. Just under two-thirds of women reported gender discrimination and one-fifth reported sexual harassment.  Read more.

A Gender Divide on Microaggressions in Medicine

A study published this October in Academic Medicine, and featured in The New York Times, examined the occurrence of microaggressions among medical faculty members from four medical schools across the country. Participants were asked to rate 34 real-life microaggression scenarios enacted in videotapes paired with comparable “nontoxic” versions of the same situations. Six types of workplace microaggressions were reported by women, and uniformly described as quite common: encountering sexism, sexually inappropriate comments, pregnancy and childcare bias, having their abilities underestimated; being relegated to mundane tasks, and feeling excluded and marginalized. The authors note that both men and women can be microagressors, and that men too can be recipients. Read more.

Building a New Generation of Female Leaders in Higher Ed

Research shows a common pattern called the “associate professor rut” whereby faculty linger at a mid-rank position for years and sometimes indefinitely. Women, particularly in STEM, are disproportionately affected. A case in point is Maria Gartstein, an associate professor  at WSU in 2008, who is now a full professor in the Department of Psychology. She attributes her success in part to the WSU External Mentor Program, which she is now building upon with the help of a new $1.2 million NSF grant supporting education leadership development for women in STEM. The program connects WSU faculty members with off-campus academic leaders. Read more.

Staying Power for Women in Stem Improved by Mentorship, Female Leadership, Independent Funding, and Flexible Family Policies

A study by L’Oréal and the Heising-Simons Foundation, “Staying Power: Women in Science on What It Takes to Succeed,” identified five factors that matter most for women staying in STEM: obtaining independent grant funding; family friendly policies and supports; formal structural mentoring programs; career development training; and structured networking programs and opportunities – each reported by over 9 out of 10 respondents. The study was launched to mark the 15th anniversary of L’Oréal’s For Women in Science (FWIS) program, with the study population made up of its alumni network of those who have received fellowship grants since the program’s inception. All study participants currently work in paid science-related positions, making them a unique group to share insights. This study is part of L’Oréal’s continued efforts to advance the leadership of women in STEM. Read more.

University of Oklahoma Announces College of Nursing Dean Appointment

Julie Hoff, PhD was hired as Dean of the Fran and Earl Zeigler College of Nursing of the University of Oklahoma’s Health Science Center in Oklahoma City, as of January 2020. She comes to OU from the Texas A&M Corpus Christi College of Nursing and Health Sciences. In her new role, she “’will advance the strategic vision for OU Nursing, building on the College’s 108-year history as the state’s flagship institution,’” according to the Health Sciences Center Senior Vice President and Provost. In addition, her experience as a Magnet® research consultant will aid the combined effort of OU Nursing and its partner OU Medicine to achieve Magnet® designation, “the highest distinction a hospital can earn for its nursing and patient care.” Read more.

Explaining Order Among Those Who Share Positions in the Author Byline

Current evidence shows gender-related inequities in the ordering of authors sharing the first position in biomedical research articles, with males being favored. Although the basis for such inequities is uncertain, there is concern that conscious and unconscious biases may contribute to this pattern. In response, mBio will now require an explanation for how order was determined among those who share author byline with the hope that explanations will help those in second and third positions get their full share of credit. Read more.

Lifetime Achievement Award for Scientific Pioneer

Florence Haseltine, PhD, received the PCOS Challenge Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Association on September 20. She is recognized as a “scientific pioneer” for her significant contributions to women’s health, particularly in the areas of health technology and contraception research. Haseltine, presidential distinguished professor in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at The University of Texas, also serves as the executive director of health research. She joined UTA in 2019, though she had been retired since 2015, intrigued by “’all the great things that were happening’” there. Fulfilling her childhood dream to earn a PhD from MIT, she continues to dedicate her career to championing women’s health. Read more.

“Gender Pay Gaps in U.S. Federal Science Agencies: An Organizational Approach”

A study published in the American Journal of Sociology examined organizational variation in gender pay gaps, an approach which the authors argue has been missing from the gender and science literature. Based on a data set of federal workers, comprised of men and women in the same jobs and workplaces, the findings showed that pay gaps differed by type of agency. In agencies categorized as traditionally masculine (engineering, physical sciences), men were frequently paid more than women within the same job. In gender-neutral agencies (biology, interdisciplinary sciences), human capital differences explained the pay differences. Read more.