Women in Science – 3.24.23

Dear College of Science Faculty and Staff, Let me ask you: how has it been to be a woman in science? And this question is for anyone who identifies as a woman in the College of Science, faculty or staff. It’s a big sample size. So how is it going? How has it been? Do you have a story or two to demonstrate? I have a basketful of anecdotes on the topic. For example, some years ago, when my husband and I were on the junior faculty job market, having both had successful postdocs, a department chair at a certain university tried to recruit both of us. His strategy was to call up my husband and discuss both of our offers with him. When I realized this, I let the chair know that if he wanted to recruit me, he and I should talk directly. For some reason, this so flummoxed the chair, that he started calling me up to discuss both of our offers. Needless to say, we did not join that university. Okay, now you. On the COS website, in our statement around Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Justice, we write “We denounce the insidious disrespect of women that furthers gender inequity in science.” Associate Dean for Equity Randall Hughes and I felt the need to make this statement, unfortunately. And perhaps it resonates with your stories. I hope not, but perhaps. This is Women’s History Month. It’s a time to honor strong women who have made valuable contributions to science, and who likely had to do so despite disrespect and roadblocks. It’s also a time to honor women who made contributions that were not acknowledged, and a time to honor women who were not allowed to contribute because of their gender. My grandma Lily was one such, more than a hundred years ago. She got her degree in Chemistry, then married my grandpa Abraham, and that was the end of her career, because married women were not allowed employment outside the home. How thrilled grandma would be to see her granddaughter, also with a Chemistry degree, able to follow her path unrestricted. It’s the best kind of story about the progression of women in science, the most encouraging to remember, that gives me enormous gratitude for where we are today, even though still imperfect. Across our College, every woman in science has her own important story. One inspiring note comes from Luciana Daly, administrative assistant in our 416 Richards suite. Her aunt was Dr. Marie Daly, the first Black woman to get a PhD in Chemistry. What a wonderful connection! To our College members observing Ramadan, that began this week, Ramadan Mubarak!