Seven Ways to Keep Women in STEM


It has become a sad truth that women who enter into fields in science, technology, engineering, or math often leave early and, if they stay, they have fewer opportunities for growth and advancement as their male counterparts. Another sad truth is that, while women make up half of the college graduates in America, they make up on 28% of science and engineering professionals. An academic panel, Initiative on Women in Science and Engineering Working Group, is working to find ways to change this.

The panel has proposed a seven-point initiative aimed at creating gender equity in STEM fields. These points include:

1) Implement a flexible family care spending system to allow a portion of grant funding to be used for family care and attending workshops and conferences.

2) Creation of an “extra hands” award to allow for the hiring of assistants, postdocs, or technicians.

3) Recruit gender-balance review committees to ensure more women female participants in symposia.

4) Incorporate implicit bias statements to recognize the bias at work in the field and help mitigate the effect among grantmakers.

5) Focus on education by convening seminars and roundtable discussions concerning gender issues in the field.

6) Creating gender equity report-cards to hold organizations responsible for making the workplace accepting of women. A certain grade would be required for organizations to maintain funding.

7) Creating searchable databases of women in STEM to make finding eligible women speakers for conferences easier for conference organizers and search committees.

These points were published in March’s issue of Cell Stem Cell by The Initiative on Women in Science and Engineering Working Group. You can read more about the plan here.

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