BOX 6-5

Building Strong Academic Chemistry Departments through Gender Equitya

In January 2006, 60 chemistry department chairs or senior leaders from the most active research universities convened with funding agency representatives and academic, government, and national chemistry leaders to identify specific strategies that chemistry departments, universities, and federal agencies could implement to encourage and enable broader participation of women in academic chemistry careers. The program for the workshop was developed by a steering committee of chemistry department chairs and several Committee on the Advancement of Women Chemists (COACh) (Box 4-3) board members, and was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the National Institutes of Health. Presentations by university leaders, social scientists, and funding agency representatives were intermixed with breakout sessions and panel discussions.

The workshop focused on (1) presentation of demographic data on the top 50 chemistry departments; (2) research on discriminatory biases and practices that negatively impact the recruitment, hiring, and advancement of women faculty; (3) identification of challenges and opportunities for chemistry departments, academic institutions, and federal funding agencies as they strive for gender equity in the sciences; and (4) development of action items for adoption by departments, institutions, and federal funding agencies. These action items included doubling the pool of women chemists considered for faculty positions in chemistry departments, creating sufficient child-care facilities, and strategies to advance the careers of young faculty such as modifying tenure rules, developing departmental procedures that mesh with family schedules, educating all faculty members to understand gender and caregiving bias, and providing opportunities for two-career families.

An on-site postworkshop survey was developed and conducted by COACh to determine what parts of the workshop the participants found most informative and useful. Participants attached high priority to gaining a better appreciation of subtle biases and discrimination that can accumulate to become a major career disadvantage for female faculty members. That issue was highlighted in several presentations and was effectively reinforced through both the presentation of the CRLT Players (Box 4-4), who provided an interactive and realistic demonstration of department communication, and by the testimony of women chemistry faculty members and women department chairs present at the meeting. Also identified as ef

technical career.19 Nor does the model take into account the needs of unmarried scientists—women and men—who have household, family, and community obligations without spousal support. It is a model that fits the


Y Xie and KA Shauman (2003). Women in Science: Career Processes and Outcomes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; D Ginther (2006). The economics of gender differences in employment outcomes in academia. In Biological, Social, and Organizational

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