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NIH Women in Biomedical Careers Newsletter

April 2013

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#1 Mrs. Earline Marshall

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 10:40 AM

NIH Updates on Women in Science is brought to you by the NIH Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers. We encourage you to share this e-newsletter with colleagues.

Contents of this Issue

Negotiation Challenging for Female Faculty in Academic Medicine

More Career Choices Account for Women’s Attrition from STEM

New Study Examines the Influence of Gender in Mentoring Relationships

Department of Energy Launches Women @ Energy Series

Highlighting Best Practices – Brown University

Negotiation Challenging for Female Faculty in Academic Medicine

A recent paper in Academic Medicine explored the negotiation experiences of academic medical faculty members who were former recipients of National Institutes of Health mentored career development awards. The authors conducted interviews with 100 selected K08 and K23 award recipients from a variety of clinical specialties. Many study participants cited a lack of preparation and foresight in negotiation, which resulted in missed opportunities. Participants also emphasized the need for more faculty development workshops to provide guidance and practice in negotiation techniques. Some K awardees commented on stereotypically female personality traits that could hinder negotiation performance such as being more communal and less competitive than their male counterparts, and several female awardees cited the need for gender-specific mentorship in negotiation skills. Notably, subjects reported a number of ways that gender may influence negotiations in academic medicine, which could lead to differences in access to resources and ultimately career outcomes. The authors suggest that shifting the focus away from individual gains -- a strategy typically used in positional bargaining -- and toward shared goals could particularly help women to engage in productive negotiations and achieve professional success.

Negotiation in Academic Medicine: Narratives of Faculty Researchers and Their Mentors

More Career Choices Account for Women’s Attrition from STEM

In spite of decades of active recruitment, women remain underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) occupations. A recent report published in Psychological Science investigated gender differences in career development by analyzing whether women and men with high math and verbal abilities in high school were more or less likely to choose STEM occupations than those with high math but moderate verbal abilities. To address this question, they surveyed 1,490 college-bound U.S. students in 1997 when they were in 12th grade and again in 2007 when they were 33 years old. They used SAT scores to assess the students’ verbal and math abilities in high school, and considered all jobs involving mathematical, health, biological, medical, physical, computer and engineering sciences to be STEM occupations. They found that mathematically capable individuals who were also high in verbal skills were less likely to pursue STEM careers compared to individuals with high math skills but moderate verbal abilities. 63% of students with both high math and high verbal ability were female. In comparison, the group with high math and moderate verbal ability was overwhelmingly male, containing only 30% women. Individuals in the high math/high verbal ability group were less likely to be in STEM occupations at age 33 than those in the high math/moderate verbal ability group, and females were less likely to choose STEM occupations than males. These findings suggest that students’ math and verbal abilities in 12th grade predict their occupations later in life, and provide evidence that females (but not males) with high math ability are also likely to have high verbal ability. Having a broad range of talents apparently allows the high-performing females to consider a wider range of occupations than their male peers.

Not a Lack of Ability but More Choice: Individual and Gender Differences in Choice of Careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics

New Study Examines the Influence of Gender in Mentoring Relationships

Women currently comprise approximately 50% of medical school classes and 30% of the physician workforce. These numbers are expected to rise in the future, as the medical workforce changes and becomes more diverse. In this way, the career decisions of female medical students will profoundly impact the profession. A recent study conducted at four large U.S. medical schools revealed a deeper understanding of the mentoring needs of female medical students and the role that gender plays in their mentoring experience. The authors interviewed 48 third and fourth year female medical students at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, and Oregon Health & Sciences University School of Medicine. Through this study, several themes emerged related to the mentoring experiences of female medical students. For interest, the study found that successful mentoring relationships are highly relational – meaning that students perceived their mentors’ advice as more valuable when mentors took time to get to know them, including their personal and career interests. The interviewed students reported that they expected female mentors to be more relational and supportive than male mentors, whom they described as more direct, content-focused, and less comfortable with discussing work-life balance. Many respondents expressed the belief that women have unique experiences in the medical profession, and reported that they specifically sought connections with female mentors. This was particularly true for female students pursuing careers in traditionally male-dominated fields of medicine. Many students also reported feeling that their gender affected the advice that they receive regarding their career choices, and expressed a desire to move beyond gender stereotypes in interactions with mentors. Furthermore, female students viewed their gender as a potential hindrance for networking and sponsorship opportunities and perceived female mentors as unable to provide access to key networks. The authors suggested that increasing the number of women in medicine in positions of power may improve the experiences of female medical students and enhance their career planning.

“A Good Career Choice for Women”: Female Medical Students’ Mentoring Experiences: A Multi-Institutional Qualitative


Department of Energy Launches Women @ Energy Series

In honor of Women’s History Month, the Department of Energy (DOE) launched a new feature on its website: Women @ Energy. This initiative showcases talented and dedicated DOE employees who are innovators in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and who ensure America’s security and prosperity by developing science and technology solutions that change the world. Profiles of women across the country are featured daily, where they share insights about what inspired them to work in STEM, what excites them about their current work for the DOE, their ideas about how to engage more underrepresented groups in the STEM workforce, and advice for women interested in pursuing energy careers. While each woman had distinct reasons for launching a career in STEM and joining the DOE, they share common features such as receiving support from mentors and being influenced by role models. Women are vastly underrepresented in STEM occupations - only 25% of the workforce is female. By launching this website, the Energy Department hopes that the stories these women share will inspire and encourage young women to seize opportunities available in these fields and pursue careers in STEM.

Women @ Energy

Best Practices: Brown University

A new program at Brown University has significantly improved the recruitment and performance of underrepresented minority students in nine of its life science doctoral programs. Established four years ago, the Initiative to Maximize Student Development (IMSD) has resulted in increased applications, admissions, enrollments, test scores, grades and scientific publications and presentations among minority students in the Brown University Graduate School. Funded by a grant from the National Institute for General Medical Sciences of the NIH, this innovative program was designed to create a more diverse student body by forging partnerships with undergraduate institutions with large populations of underrepresented minorities in the sciences. These undergraduate schools included York College, St. John’s University, North Carolina A&T State University, and the College of Mount Saint Vincent. Through the IMSD, Brown faculty engage undergraduate students about their research areas of interest, career aspirations, and expectations. Directed by Dr. Andrew Campbell and Dr. Elizabeth Harrington, the IMSD program educates undergraduate underrepresented minority students about educational and career options available beyond their local communities and encourages them to consider applying to Brown for graduate school. Faculty members developed mini-courses to train and mentor students to build the skills needed for doctoral programs. The IMSD resulted in increased enrollment of life science doctoral students from underrepresented minority groups from 17% in 2007-2008 to 23% in 2011-2012. While the national average for underrepresented minority students in life science doctoral programs in 2011-2012 was one in ten, the Brown Graduate School average was one in five. The success of Brown University’s IMSD program provides evidence that the implementation of key practices by graduate science training programs can translate to increased diversity and student achievement in the sciences. These practices are generalizable, and if applied elsewhere could lead to measurable advances in the representation of racial, ethnic, and other disadvantaged individuals in the scientific workforce.

Program Improves Ph.D. Student Diversity

Biomed Initiative to Maximize Student Development

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