Panel III focused on cross-cutting themes associated with women in science in a global context with three presentations: Lisa M. Frehill, senior program officer at the National Academies, discussed the roles of disciplinary societies in advancing women in the sciences; Daryl Chubin, director of the Center for Advancing Science and Engineering Capacity at American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), described exemplary programs; and Cheryl B. Leggon, associate professor at the School of Public Policy at Georgia Institute of Technology, in collaboration with Connie L. McNeely, professor of public policy at George Mason University, addressed policies that are presumed to be effective in enhancing women’s participation in sciences in a global context. The themes raised were expected to serve as catalysts for future research and programmatic efforts.
Lisa M. Frehill
The National Academies
Frehill began her presentation on the role of disciplinary societies2 in the status of women in the chemical sciences, computer science, and mathematics and statistics by introducing the theoretical foundations related to the emergence and development of disciplinary societies. Social theorists such as Georg Simmer, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, and Karl Marx called attention to the functions of societal institutions and considered social networks as both a consequence and a potential source of large-scale societal change. In this context, the general functions of disciplinary societies include socializing new members, enabling collective actions of the members, and engaging in an array of normative functions, such as regulation of a profession or professional practices. Conferences, research, journals, community networking, policy work, and scholarships and awards are all mechanisms for implementing those important functions and for allocating resources.
The geographic scope of disciplinary societies can affect the extent to which they may become involved in policy and political issues. For example, the International Council for Science (ICSU), which has 113 multidisciplinary national scientific members, associations, and observers, is a federation of many smaller organizations. Such a structure has enabled ICSU to reach across a wide geographic spectrum in both soliciting information and calling for actions.
2 The term “disciplinary society” rather than “professional society” is used in this summary because in some international contexts the term “professional society” connotes a specific normative framework, that is, performing state functions of licensing or other certification of members.
In addition, Frehill explained that the organizational structure and governance of disciplinary societies affect the extent to which they might engage in actions to promote diversity. One can better understand the functions and mechanisms used by associations to address members’ ethnic, racial, and professional identities by understanding each society’s collective identity. For example, some efforts to promote diversity are organized under the umbrella of a larger disciplinary society, such as the Women’s Chemists Committee within the American Chemical Society (ACS). Others are created outside of the existing disciplinary societies, such as the Association for Women in Science (AWIS). According to Frehill, the location of groups focused on gender, ethnic, or racial issues “may have to do with the receptivity or non-receptivity or the extent to which folks from these groups had a legitimate community within the larger professional society.” At the international and regional levels, the emergence and development of groups focused on diversity have also occurred but the time frames vary across countries.
Frehill concluded by emphasizing that “disciplinary associations are an important organizational structure through which scientists build communities of practices, reward achievements, and enable members to share information.”
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Chubin spoke on behalf of his coauthors, Catherine Didion, Josephine Beoku-Betts, and Jann Adams. He began by providing an overview of a public—private partnership known as BEST (Building Engineering and Science Talent), which evaluated 124 U.S.-based, undergraduate-centered STEM4 programs and produced a report. On the basis of available evidence, the programs were sorted into three categories: exemplary, promising, and not ready. The report identified major principles to consider when looking across programs:
• national or local cultural context matters
• sponsors, program organizers, and target populations may bring different expectations to the program
• program design may differ from its implementation
• program evolution and its “life cycle” need to be captured
• programs need to be adapted and scaled to new contexts and new populations
Chubin also gave a short list of program selection criteria, noting that exemplary programs met the following six requirements:
1. Specified forms of intervention for more than one kind of activity.
2. Specified an age, or stage, of the target population.
3. In operation for more than 5 years to signal the prospect of institutional sustainability.
4. Provided evidence of positive outcomes, as documented by third-party monitoring, evaluation, or research studies with comparison groups.
4 Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is a commonly used acronym in the United States.
5. Provided findings that inform the implementation of similar programs.
6. Demonstrated modification of program operations over time that result from data-based feedback.
Less than 10 percent of the nominated programs in the BEST population met all of these criteria. He emphasized that if an intervention program is successful, it will eventually move from the margins to the mainstream of the organization’s mission.
To demonstrate variations across cultures, Chubin presented case studies of two successful programs, one from the developing world, the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSDW)5, and the other from the developed world, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF)’s ADVANCE Program.6 He briefly described the OWSDW Postgraduate Training Fellowship Program, which was established in 1998 and has funded women scientists under the age of 40 to help secure postgraduate training in the global south (southern hemisphere). Although the impact is uneven geographically (with a larger impact in the African region), Chubin suggested that the program has successfully launched careers of women scientists, generating south-to-south exchanges, and stemming, to some extent, the problem of “brain drain” to the north.
The second case study was NSF’s ADVANCE program, which is considered the most promising gender-conscious science and engineering faculty-focused program in the United States. Chubin discussed the exemplary ADVANCE programs at the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin, which through a series of initiatives increased the number of hired tenure-track women faculty and staged a series of interventions by the faculty and division heads to improve the “climate.” Overall, the ADVANCE program focuses on institutional transformation, which Chubin suggests should lead to larger structural changes.
He concluded by emphasizing the importance of the program “life cycle” and what can be done beyond understanding it. Institutional changes should be applied to similar programs at other sites, where practices and program structures can also be spread and scaled. However, Chubin acknowledged that additional research is necessary to account for the critical role of varying perspectives and the need to fit efforts into specific contextual situations.
Cheryl B. Leggon
Georgia Institute of Technology, and
Connie L. McNeely
George Mason University
Leggon and McNeely presented an examination of promising policies for advancing women in science. Leggon began by conceptualizing “policy” in three ways. First, think of policy as a plan of action, where “policy does not exist in a vacuum, but rather within a context of political, economic, social and cultural forces. Policy is not static. It’s dynamic and should be
6 ADVANCE: Increasing the Participation and Advancement of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Careers. For more information, please see: http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=5383. Accessed on August 22, 2012.
structured in such a way to make adaptations when warranted.” Second, conceptualize policy as a line of argument, which rationalizes a course of action or inaction: “Within the context of women in science, an example of this approach would be shifting the way the argument and issues are framed from that of social justice to national development.” Finally, consider policy as an intervention, where policy changes outcomes that are perceived as undesirable. In all three cases, she emphasized the need for data that can be appropriately disaggregated by gender, race, ethnicity, and region to provide a clear picture to drive and inform policies across nations.
Leggon then presented an overview of the characteristics of promising policies that were derived from the BEST initiative.8
• A policy should be driven and informed by data and information that are credible, reliable, and valid.
• A problem or issue is clearly identified and specified to maximize effectiveness of the policy.
• The most promising programs need to be coupled with policy statements and with policy implementation.
• Policy statements should specify goals, objectives, and guidelines. Objectives, along with clear guidelines, establish targets instead of quotas for policy actions.
• Gender mainstreaming is a strategy for assessing the implication for women and men of policies and programs.
• Policies are expected to be sustained and institutionalized. Once a policy is institutionalized, issues of gender and science become criteria by which the performance of a nation, institution, or individual will be assessed.
• Certain processes and principles should be identified and applied across geographic boundaries and disciplinary boundaries, often referred to as diffusion.
Leggon discussed the analytical dimensions that are reflected in substance and actions at different levels, noting that efforts at regional, national, and international levels may intersect. Often the intersection occurs when a national organization belongs to a regional organization or when either institution belongs to a broader international organization, which forms direct connections among levels. Figure 4-1 briefly portrays an example of how national, regional, and international intersections arise. Specifically, organizations may intersect when polices of one institution are adopted by others, with the organization at the international level strategically positioned to leverage the greatest reach. In this case, individual organizations do not necessarily need to reinvent the wheel because the ground work for ideas, agenda setting, formulation, and implementation of policies has often been laid. International and regional organizations can also provide external legitimacy to bolster arguments for the enactment of policies.
FIGURE 4-1. Examples of the Relationships among Institutions at Different Levels
SOURCE: The “Promising Policies” presentation made by Cheryl Leggon at the Blueprint for the Future: Framing the Issues of Women in Science in a Global Context Workshop.
Although there is general agreement that no country can afford to exclude more than half of its population from its STEM education and workforce, Leggon explained, several challenges remain that impede women’s advancement. These include raising awareness and transforming gender attitudes to remove societal and cultural barriers, and emphasizing the importance for all stakeholders to be actively involved in sustaining, mainstreaming, and institutionalizing policies.
Several discussants shared their experience and comments in this session. Jessie DeAro, program director in the Education and Human Resources Directorate at NSF, spoke about the value of further study on promising programs and promising policies from the funding agencies’ standpoint. She suggested that the program directors look into historical information about the institutions and professional societies and explore more about critical leverage points for program interventions. DeAro mentioned that NSF has the complicated task of supporting projects with ongoing and demonstrated positive results, as well as supporting projects that are more innovative. It would be helpful if research could provide suggestions on the leverage points for funding agencies’ investments within their budget limitations. DeAro acknowledged “the unique values women have brought to science and engineering, which are relatively new, but which clash with the historical way that science has been done. [It] would be interesting to pull that out and identify those values and how they can contribute to the vitality and
productivity in science and engineering in a different way than traditional science and engineering, which may be more competitive, less collaborative.”
Kathie Bailey-Mathae, director of the Board on International Scientific Organizations at the National Academies, commented on the different structures of organizations at different levels, as discussed by Leggon, which can present both challenges and opportunities. Many of the U.S.-based professional organizations have individual members, and most of the international organizations have national members. There are numerous ways that the United States can be involved with women and capacity-building programs through societies and unions. Organizations at different levels can, and often are, working on the same issues. Bailey-Mathae noted the importance of all of them working together. She also raised the issue of the challenges (e.g., access to education and good mentors) faced by women in developing countries; many of these challenges are very different from those faced by women in developed countries, and they are not always fully addressed by international policy.
Patricia Taboada-Serrano, early-career representative of the Women for Science Working Group from the InterAmerican Network of Academies of Sciences (IANAS), introduced the IANAS agenda. The agenda focuses on encouraging each country’s national academy to start its own programs and to bring the gender issue to its programs, institutional structures, and cultures. She concurred that the data gathering and discussion of different factors affecting women’s equity and advancement at the workshop will help to identify issues that influence women’s advancement in science and engineering in general, as well as to identify issues specific to several disciplines. Going back to policies and programs, Taboada-Serrano stated that the challenge is more than changing numbers. The broader vision, she noted, is to change cultures and mindsets.
Discussion Following Frehill Remarks
Joanne Cohoon from the University of Virginia asked whether women’s committees within many organizations and institutions are more beneficial to networking opportunities and peer support than free-standing entities that are exclusively for women. Frehill responded that measuring the effects of these women’s committees is often challenging. She gave an example of a mentoring program, which had been mentioned earlier by a workshop participant from the Association of Women in Mathematics. Although such mentoring programs were often set up at a grassroots level, it was not always clear whether the participants received similar mentoring at their own institutions or whether the program supplemented that mentoring. This lack of clarity underscores the need to drill down and examine these programs very carefully. Frehill discussed the importance of maintaining program control by women at the grassroots level. If a program with demonstrated success was then run by a parent society rather than its women’s subgroup, it was difficult to know to what extent it would continue to have the same effectiveness for the participants. If the program continued to be run at the grassroots level and received dedicated resources from the parent society, the program may retain its character.
Judy Franz, executive officer emeritus from American Physical Society (APS) and the past secretary general of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), spoke about APS practices that kept women within the organization instead of starting a new society. It is sometimes difficult for large international groups to focus on specific tasks, but it is easier
for disciplinary unions that belong to those international groups to make an impact. Franz reported that IUPAP passed a resolution that all of its conferences must include women on committees that select speakers and have women as invited speakers.9 Frehill applauded this action, agreeing that institutions and societies in physics have done much international work and could serve as a model for other disciplines.
Janet Bryant, a scientist and engineer at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, shared information about the ACS’s Women Chemists Committee, which was set up 85 years ago and now is a part of the governance structure of the ACS. One good model was the recent formation of a joint subcommittee on diversity that grew from a grassroots effort by several ACS affinity groups focused on individuals’ characteristics (gender, ethnicity, and disability status). The joint subcommittee is now sanctioned at the technical society level, which has more power within ACS than do the separate affinity groups. Also, ACS is having a great impact on outreach in collaboration with the IUPAP and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and particularly in outreach among sister societies for the 2011 International Year of Chemistry.
Discussion Following Chubin Remarks
Ingrid Daubechies from the International Mathematical Union expressed concern about the difficulty of making big institutional changes, suggesting that it might be more effective to extract principles and to inspire small programs. Chubin pointed out that scaling was feasible because guidelines can help individuals stay on the path to change. Given constraints in organizations, such as different cultures and contexts, he and his coauthors suggested using the word “adaptation” instead of “adoption.” He pointed out the need for better mechanisms of information sharing across institutions.
Cohoon mentioned that because intervention programs are often a special add-on to a targeted population, they tend not to be well-supported. She questioned whether it was possible for any program to be effective in the long term if it was putting a bandage on a problem, while the overall structure may have serious problems. Chubin responded that if the add-on is effective with a particular population, it could be incorporated into mainstream institutional practices.
Shirley Malcom, head of the Directorate for Education and Human Resources Programs at AAAS, mentioned that Uri Triesman10 questioned the idea of having a special program for minorities, because, in some cases, people who are not well-served are also in the majority. How is program spending justified? Chubin responded that he does not have a good answer. He noted that this question is about what happens when a program matures. As institutional culture changes over time, the original rationale for the program, which had been grounded in a now-out-of-date set of circumstances, may no longer fit the current culture.
9 Hartline, B. K. and D. Li, eds. 2002. “Women in Physics.” The International Union of Pure and Applied Physics International Conference on Women in Physics. March 7-9; Paris, France. New York: AIP Conference Proceedings.
10 Uri Treisman is professor of mathematics and director of the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Treisman was named a MacArthur Fellow in 1992 and was named as one of the outstanding leaders of higher education in the 20th century by the magazine Black Issues in Higher Education in December 1999.
Discussion Following Leggon Remarks
Franz said that Leggon phrased the issue effectively: “It’s not the women who need to be fixed. It is the men who need to be fixed.” She voiced a need to have more discussion on making cultural changes as well as better phrasing of the gender issue. It is very important for women scientists to find a better way to carry and deliver their message through scientific organizations.
The big challenge overall … is the reaction of nonwestern countries when western countries develop a policy, then expect nonwestern countries to implement it.
Rebecca Keiser, deputy director at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration concurred that Leggon’s presentation effectively put the emphasis on evaluation, and on making policy data driven. She noted that, at the international level, not all entities change policy at the same time. Changing policies is challenged at the stages of policy formation and policy power differences, Keiser cautioned: “the big challenge overall that we are all aware of, but have to continue to be aware of, is the reaction of nonwestern countries when western countries develop a policy, then expect nonwestern countries to implement it… Those differences in power are essential with policy” and should be considered. Leggon agreed that “one size does not fit all”; however, she noted that there are certain principles (e.g., coupling gender issues with national development) that can be transferred to different geographic areas. Promising policies can also be transferred and may be helpful to identify the issues and to build upon what others have learned.
Joan Goldberg, executive director of the American Society for Cell Biology, commented on the Panel III discussion. She noted that many programs at the institutional level do not have control groups, and the data from evaluation, if they exist, are not always helpful. In addition, it is important to think about the language we use to describe diversity and gender issues. She suggested using a more discriminating mind to think about the language, targets, and benchmarks we use. Leggon responded that this lack of clarity is why there is a need to emphasize the importance of disaggregating data appropriately within a given institutional context.
Discussion Following Panel Discussion
McNeely agreed with Taboada-Serrano’s point about changing culture, confirming that it is important to take the inherent tension and dynamics of cultures into consideration. In terms of data collection, women are not a monolithic group, so there is a need for data that drills down. In other words, data should not be considered only horizontal but also vertical in multicultural societies. The problem of the double bind for women of color in the United States exists elsewhere too. Carefully posed questions can enable researchers to better differentiate the underlying dynamics associated with these processes. McNeely suggested that we engage in more complicated data collection. DeAro agreed with McNeely’s point about data collection, noting that potential issues that can be added to the discussion are mobility of faculty and the presence of foreign-born and foreign-trained faculty. These complicate gender issues because faculty members come from different cultures, and their mindsets vary greatly across cultures.
I sold [gender diversity at Microsoft] as a business case. I redid all my information and sold it as a business case. [Afterward], I had people, men, come up to me and say, ‘I get it! I actually understand why we think this will be important.’
Robert Lichter from Merrimack Consulting, LLC, pointed out that one voice workshop participants had not heard from is the voice of employers (e.g., in industry) who are significant in the “gender” conversation. Jane Prey, the senior research program manager at Microsoft Research, responded to Lichter’s comment. She discussed her professional experience working on the strategy for gender diversity and research at Microsoft and the difficulties in motivating employees to buy in. However, opinions changed after she reworked her gender diversity pitch. “I sold it as a business case. I redid all my information and sold it as a business case. [Afterward], I had people, men, come up to me and say, ‘I get it! I actually understand why we think this will be important.’” Prey emphasized that phrasing diversity strategy as a business case makes it much more salable. McNeely concurred and noted that strategically shifting the way people frame the message makes people feel they have some kind of investment.
Alice Popejoy, the public policy fellow from AWIS, followed up on the discussion on messaging, observing that “messaging is not about what is right but about what is smart.” Sending the message smartly is not only to get politicians’ buy-in, but it is also to adjust women’s perspectives on the gender issue, because women sometimes have the same bias as men against women in science. Research demonstrates that having one or two women on an award selection committee does not actually improve the number of women getting awards, but having a woman chair the committee does make a difference. In addition, it is important to engage leadership while implementing policies and programs in disciplinary societies. Popejoy pointed out that disciplinary societies and academic institutions have usually been given general guidelines to implement better practices. However, given the different cultures and issues within the disciplines and societies, it is important that their leadership enables change rather than placing the responsibility for change solely on committees that are dedicated to women’s issues.
Cohoon also commented on messaging and how messages are framed. She noted that a review of successful social movements revealed that a critical part of the process was to shift the argument away from the personal to the political. Making the moral argument is an important step toward achieving the success of a social movement.