Expanding the Potential of Women in STEM: Overcoming Bias & Barriers

What We’re About: This is a grass-roots effort to raise awareness about the implicit biases that face the advancement of women in STEM. Young women – graduate students, post-docs and even assistant professors – are often unaware that the professional playing field is not even. Mid-career women are often bitter that it turned out to be so. One way to improve climate is for everyone to be aware of implicit biases that disadvantage the non-priviledged group.

This effort was started as a series of presentations on bias from the social psychology field. The response was tremendous, and it has grown into an active international Facebook Group, an Art Exhibit, a less active blog used mostly for announcements, a forum used to bring speakers to Hopkins, and a series of Workshops/Journal Clubs in which we meet to discuss gender issues that could be affecting our scientific careers.

Plans for Fall 2016. 
OSTP Visit: Members of our group visited the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House on 31 Aug 2016 to discuss gender equity and science policy. This was such an interesting and fun visit that we think we’ll organize it every year.

Overview Seminar: Dr. Fleming will be presenting a seminar entitled “expanding the Potential of Women in STEM: Overcoming Bias & Barriers” hosted by the JHU Department of Chemistry on Friday Oct 27, 2016 at 3pm in Remsen 233. This event is open to the public.

Workshops: We will cover the topic of “Bystander Intervention” in two events this fall: (1) In our traditional workshop style to be scheduled in November that will be open; and
(2) At the Diversity Leadership Council Conference on Friday 21 Oct 2016. Pre-registration is required for this latter event.

Art Exhibit: We are pleased to announce the opening of our Women at Hopkins Art Exhibit. The ribbon cutting will be October 18, 2016. The physical exhibit will be in place at the Mattin Center on the Johns Hopkins Homewood campus through 2017.

Who should come to our events?  Everyone is welcome, including faculty, academic staff, post-docs, research assistants and graduate students. All genders are welcome. Come if you are a woman or know a woman or have a daughter or a sister or a wife that could be affected by the the unconscious barriers that affect women in STEM. Come if you are a man and want to advocate for gender equity in STEM. The goal will be to raise awareness so that bias and barriers can be overcome.

Why is this important?  Documented by a landmark National Academy of Sciences study in 2007, women are broadly under-represented in STEM faculty and other leadership positions at academic institutions and in professional societies. Unconscious bias is part of the problem facing women, however women can also contribute to the unintended prejudices against them by displaying certain behaviors that confront social expectations. With a view to increase awareness of these issues to move beyond barriers in STEM, these workshops will examine and discuss the social science literature on these issues.

Organization: The typical meeting will be focused around a literature article from the social psychology field. Topics of these articles will include confidence differences in women and men, implicit biases, gender-expected behaviors and stereotypes, and hiring & evaluation practices.

Outcomes: These workshops have two desired outcomes: (1) We hope to raise awareness on gender differences and how these affect our development as scientists; and (2) We hope to identify strategies that can be used to become more effective in the professional scientific environment.

We plan to meet quarterly during the academic year.

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This site is maintained by the faculty founder, Dr. Karen Fleming.


1 thought on “Expanding the Potential of Women in STEM: Overcoming Bias & Barriers”

  1. Great post, thanks for the read.


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