The 28-member Initiative on Women in Science and Engineering Working Group has developed a seven-point plan for achieving gender equity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The group wants to ensure that women not only enter STEM fields, but remain, compete, and thrive in their careers.
Women make up half the college-educated U.S. workforce but only 28 percent of the science and engineering workers, according to the National Science Board. The panel suggests flexible family care spending awards that could enable travel to meetings and conferences, as well as grants to pay for assistance in the office, laboratory, or home.
The panel also makes three suggestions that it says fall under the "Psychological and Cultural Strategies" heading. The panel says institutions should incorporate implicit bias statements and gender-balanced external review and speaker-selection committees, and focus on education as a tool. The Initiative also recommends instituting gender-equity report cards and searchable databases of women in STEM fields, which would make it easier for search committees and conference organizers to identify eligible females.
"Leadership at the highest levels of research institutions should be aware of these challenges and opportunities," says Lasker Foundation president Claire Pomeroy.
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