service on SfN committees. As a result, women and URMs have been appointed increasingly to SfN committees, and prominent women of color have also served on SfN’s Council.
• Representation within SfN annual meeting programming: SfN is also committed to ensuring diversity within the scientific program of the annual meeting. The Program Committee encourages inclusion of diverse presenters in symposium and mini-symposium proposals and uses diversity as an important criterion in the selection process. In addition, the nano-symposium format introduced in 2009 helps promote presentations by younger members, including women and scientists of color.
• Mentoring: SfN has identified mentoring as a high-priority need among many of its member constituencies, including women of color. SfN offers an online mentor-matching program as well as mentoring events at the annual meeting and year-round resources. NeurOnLine, SfN’s online community for member-to-member networking, dialogue, and sharing of experiences, offers a virtual venue where mentoring on a range of career-related topics and issues occurs alongside scientific exchange.
• Plugging the “leaky pipeline”: SfN also supports several grant-funded programs aimed at helping URMs to advance through various career stages. The Neuroscience Scholars Program (funded by the NINDS) aims to increase the likelihood that the most promising URM neuroscience trainees successfully advance in their careers. The Program includes annual funds for career enrichment activities, mentoring and networking opportunities, support for SfN annual meeting attendance, and more. To date, nearly 600 have participated in the program and, since 1996, 55% of all Scholars have been women. Data from a survey and interviews of former Scholars document the significant impact the program has had on helping foster the careers of numerous URMs, many of them women.
o SfN is also implementing a pilot Grant Proposal Mentoring Program to help increase the success rate for URMs submitting proposals to NSF/NIH. Of the 20 beneficiaries of the two-year pilot program, which involves intensive coaching and mock review of proposals, half are women of color. We expect this program to target the important transition from postdoctoral fellow to tenure-track faculty member where the “pipeline” appears to be most leaky.
o SfN’s NSF-funded project, Department Chair Training to Increase Women in Neuroscience (IWiN), seeks to increase the number of women, including underrepresented minority women, among faculty in neuroscience. SfN has implemented five workshops that have provided participating department chairs and university leaders from 43 academic institutions with concrete strategies focusing on recruitment, advancement, and creating a favorable work climate for female faculty and faculty from diverse backgrounds in neuroscience and neuroscience-related departments and programs around the country. A major topic of the workshops was the prevalence of unconscious bias. The reviews by participants of these workshops suggest that they will have a significant impact on hiring and retention practices at numerous academic institutions.
Challenges or barriers to success experienced by women of color in the field of neuroscience are no different than in other areas of science. The dearth of strong role models and of a supportive community of people of similar background/color, effective mentoring, and unintended/implicit biases in faculty recruitment and promotion policies and practices are among