Help women stay in science

Add your thoughts to the growing discussion on the role men should play in helping women stay in science

Laura L. Mays Hoopes
Sep 26, 2007
Editor's Note: In this piece, which will run in the January issue of The Scientist, Laura L. Mays Hoopes outlines suggestions for helping men help women scientists. Hoopes is a writer and the Halstead-Bent Professor of Biology and Molecular Biology at Pomona College. We're publishing the article early to spark discussion online of gender bias in science. Please suggest other things men can do to level the playing field by clicking here. We'll publish the best comments in print along with the article. 1. Call a woman scientist from time to time, to chat about science, a recent breakthrough, your puzzling results, their puzzling results. Even better, call one once a week.2. Every time you have to recommend a scientist to speak at your seminar series, replace "young man" in your thoughts with "young woman" or even "old woman." 3. If you're on a hiring or tenure committee, don't start reading the files until after you review the primary literature on unconscious bias. You can access references from Jo Handelsman's site.4. Support the development of a child care center at your university or college. Women produce babies and they need the day care. 5. When you are organizing a scientific meeting, invite some women scientists to be speakers.6. When you walk through the posters, where women who were not invited present their work, stop and talk with them about what they've been doing. When you do, don't look over her shoulder, listen. If it helps, pretend she's a man. 7. When you chat with a woman scientist at a scientific meeting, invite her to join you and your friends for a lunch or dinner. She may eat in her room to avoid eating alone in a restaurant while watching you and your (male) friends laughing at the next table.8. When you think about someone to appoint to an editorial board or to write a review article, be sure to consider women as well as your particular favorite young men and male cronies.9. When you are looking for a nominee for an award (I'm not talking about the awards for the BEST WOMAN, I'm talking about research awards in general), replace that "young hotshot man" image with a "young hotshot woman" image. Or even an "old hotshot woman." If you don't know anyone to consider, email me at and I can suggest someone. 10. When you're spoiling for a fight, call the National Library of Medicine and complain that you can't properly track the publications women have produced for your award committee because they have no way to let PubMed know all of their different names so they can be connected in one list of publications. Links within this article:K. Grens, "NAS issues report on gender bias," The Scientist, September 18, 2006 Handelsman