Sexual harassment is draining. It takes up time and energy, and it does not result in anything for one’s CV or annual review. It is a productivity tax on women. In my case, it meant I avoided co-authoring or having joint grants with male colleagues, things that would likely have increased my funding and publications.
Archives for March 2018
As universities around the world award science PhDs at an ever-increasing rate, some doctoral students might wonder whether the degree is still worth all the time, effort and sacrifice.
But two recent projects tracking the journeys of PhD holders in the United Kingdom and Canada offer reason for optimism: graduates in the sciences and other fields are highly employable, even if they don’t always end up where they expected. “There’s a lot of pessimism about an oversupply of PhDs,” says Sally Hancock, an education researcher at the University of York, UK, who led the study in her nation — one of only a few of its kind worldwide. “These data can help demystify what happens next.”
In 2013, Google decided to test its hiring hypothesis by crunching every bit and byte of hiring, firing, and promotion data accumulated since the company’s incorporation in 1998. Project Oxygen shocked everyone by concluding that, among the eight most important qualities of Google’s top employees, STEM expertise comes in dead last. The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills: being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas.
Organizations have been trying to improve diversity in the workplace for decades — with little success. The most common techniques, such as one-time sensitivity trainings, haven’t worked. The numbers of women and people of color in leadership roles are still staggeringly low across industries. Also well documented are the high rates of turnover for women, especially women of color.
We need to try some new techniques, starting with making systemic changes to the ways businesses are run. These don’t have to be big changes — in fact, even small tweaks to your basic systems (hiring, promotions, compensation) can lead to big changes. For many companies, the focus so far has been on making small adjustments to how performance evaluations are done. This is important but insufficient, because evaluations are inherently backward-looking: They can measure only the assignments someone has already gotten.
Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space, knows firsthand the importance of exposing kids to STEM topics early. She also knows the significance of having kids see themselves in movies, on TV, and in certain careers.
“It means making sure that people get those images that show they have those things available to them,” Jemison told HuffPost.
Jemison is collaborating on “Science Matters,” an initiative to encourage kids of all ages and backgrounds to pursue agricultural science from pharmaceutical and life science company Bayer and youth development organization National 4-H Council. Jemison, a physician and chemical engineer, knows the field of agricultural science can sound intimidating, but she and Jennifer Sirangelo, CEO and president of the National 4-H Council, have set out to change that.