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Random Collisions and Ordered Events on the Pathway to Academic Success

Module by: Rice ADVANCE. E-mail the author

Summary: Donna J. Dean's presentation.

Strategic Directions

  • Advocacy & Public Education
  • Promoting Institutional Change and Best Practices
  • Career Development
Table 1
The cover of the book 'Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering' from the National Academy of Science, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. We have “a system that claims to reward based on merit but instead rewards traits such as assertiveness that are socially less acceptable for women.” (BEYOND BIAS AND BARRIERS Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering. Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy National Academies of Sciences. 2006.)

A field full of sheep.

Criteria for Success

  • Number of collaborations
  • Number of grad students and postdocs
  • Number of invited talks
  • Amount of funding
  • Numbers of grants
  • Numbers of publications (most important)

A mouse with a helmet contemplates a piece of cheese on a trap.

Tools that Can Help Us

A female construction worker.

  • Self Analysis
  • Networking
  • Mentoring
  • Coaching

Self Analysis

06.jpg

Networking

07.jpg

Mentoring

08.jpg

Coaching

09.jpg

Of Pipelines and Glass Ceilings

Table 2
A cover of Science entitled 'The Pipeline Problem'. A cover of Science entitled 'Women in Science'.

Critical Elements

  1. Pipeline
    • Mentoring is NOT cloning!
    • Glass ceilings and sticky floors
  2. Climate
    • The general workplace
    • The scientific workplace
      • Administration
      • Scientists
      • Scientist-Administrators
  3. Unconscious bias
    • “We have an evolutionary predisposition to dwell on differences.”
    • Subtle gender bias and social expectations
    • “Different from”, not “better than”
    • “Move up, reach down”
    • (Source: Elizabeth Spielke, Harvard)
    • “Unconscious discrimination arises due to deep seated habits that will be very hard to change - our selection procedures tend to select not only for talents that are directly relevant to success in science but also for assertiveness and single mindedness . . . . qualities that are at best very indirectly related to being a good scientist and that clash with cultural pressures.”
    • (Source: Howard Georgi, Harvard)
  4. Balancing personal life and work
    • Seriously reconsider assumptions about what successful individuals’ careers are supposed to look like
    • Women follow less direct paths/different sequences of positions in a different spirit
    • Some evidence that productivity occurs later in women’s careers than male counterparts
  5. Community and culture
    • “Culture eats strategy for lunch”
    • (Source: Mark Bard, management guru)
Table 3
“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” (Thomas Jefferson) A man studies the plans of a labyrinth, which is being built before him.
Table 4
A woman hold up a magnet, which students reading books are flying to. Encourage women to become connected to a large community that encourages, sustains and supports them in their careers. Work with students to foster a more supportive and favorable climate for all.

Every Person’s Bill of Rights

  • The right to be treated with respect.
  • The right to have and express our own feelings.
  • The right to be listened to and taken seriously.
  • The right to set our priorities.
  • The right to say “no” without feeling guilty.

A scale balances a pot at the end of the rainbow against a half full glass.

It Isn't Just Science!

15.jpg
  • Of the 2000 plays performed in 2001-2002 season, only 17% were by women writers.
  • Fewer than 1% of orchestral performances in 2002-2003 represented works by women.
  • What is the Fund for Women Artists working to do?
    • Transform social stereotypes in the arts
    • Empower female artists
    • Increase opportunities

Construction crews stare confusedly at each other from across a gap in a bridge that's been built out over the water from both sides. Unfortunately, the two sides are misaligned by about one car length.

A diverse group of people surrounds an atom.

Bumper-to-bumper traffic jam.

A confused woman stands before a signpost pointed all four ways.

A traffic signal with dozens of lights pointing in all directions.

Concepts

  • Acquiring the requisite credentials
  • Recognizing opportunities
  • Learning from mistakes and missteps
  • Dealing with own biases and misconceptions
  • Developing a sense of one’s career directions and timing
  • Selecting appropriate role models
  • Meshing one’s values with the workplace
  • Balancing the pieces of one’s life
  • Creating opportunities for others
  • Knowing when to move on
  • Calculated risk-taking
Table 5
A chemist at her desk examining test tubes. I look back upon my youth and realize how so many people gave me help, understanding, courage. . . very important things to me and they never knew it. They entered into my life and became powers within me.   All of us live spiritually by what others have given us, often unwittingly, in the significant hours of our life. At the time these significant hours may not even be perceived. We may not recognize them until years later when we look back, as one remembers some long-ago music or a boyhood landscape.” (Albert Schweitzer)

Wrong way sign.

Life Balance and Career in Context

Three circles, entitled career, personal life, and community, overlapping.

Three circles, entitled career, personal life, and community, overlapping nearly completely.

Three circles, entitled career, personal life, and community, not overlapping.

Chinese proverb: 'Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are'.

A professor carefully marks a giant X through a colleague's work on a chalkboard.

  • Condescending chivalry
  • Supportive discouragement
  • Friendly harassment
  • Radiant devaluation
  • Benevolent exploitation
  • Considerate domination
  • Collegial exclusion
  • (Source: Gender, Work, and Medicine, NEJM 331:60 7/7/1994)

So, What's a Woman to Do?

Table 6
A close up of a woman's face as she examines a test tube. A woman sits at a table with her head in her hands.

In the midst of some sophisticated equations on a board stands 'Then a miracle occurs...'

'Survival Kit' for Life

277
  • Toothpick: to help you separate fact from untruths
  • Rubber band: to remind you to be flexible
  • Band-aid: so you don’t let your feelings get hurt
  • Pencil: to jot down why you have chosen your career
  • Eraser: so you learn that mistakes are okay
  • Earplugs: to help you screen out background and distractions
  • Gum: because you have to stick with it
  • Mint: to remind you of your self worth, you are worth a mint to your organization
  • Chocolate kiss: because you have to like yourself first – and because it’s chocolate!
Table 7
Life is too short not to do what you love. Be open to the possibilities that will come your way unexpectedly. (Jerome Hines) 32.jpg

What Does All This Mean?

33.jpg

Table 8
34.jpg The lens you peer through determines the view you see and what you describe to others.
Table 9
A rainbow spreads behind a beaker containing the Earth. Diverse faces peer out of a skyscraper.

“Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received – only what you have given; a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.” (St. Francis of Assisi)

A cat walks past a line of German Shepherd polic dogs.

One half of a building says 'Optimists' Club: Open Mornings'. The other half says 'Pessimists' Club: Closed Afternoons'.

A polar bear sliding on his back next to a 'watch for ice' sign.

Table 10
Four little words that can change the world:
You can do it!
Kids cheering.

41.jpg

Table 11: Career Trees (not ladders)
Many branches can lead to success 42.jpg

Two owls in a tree.

44.jpg

“Whom the gods wish to destroy, they give unlimited resources.” (Twyla Tharp, choreographer)

A picture taken with a scanning electron microscope.

Universities

  • Rutgers University
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • University of Cincinnati
  • Tulane University
  • Florida Atlantic University
  • University of Houston
  • New Mexico State University
  • University of Southern California
  • California Institute of Technology
  • University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

National Facilities

  • National Primate Research Centers
  • University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
  • Fermi Research Alliance (FRA)
  • Associated Universities, Inc. (NRAO)

Scientific Organizations

  • Association of Independent Research Institutes
  • Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
  • Sea Grant Association
  • National Association of Marine Laboratories
  • Council on Social Work Education
  • Public Broadcasting Service
  • South Dakota Science and Technology Authority

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