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1995 WICB / Career Strategy Columns (Archive)

Books of Interest to Women in Science: A WICB Reading List; W. Sue Shafer

Books, books, books!! So many good books, so little time. Writing this on a rainy morning, I am reminded of one of my favorite images: Jo from Little Women, curled up on a window seat on a rainy day with an apple and a good book. Here is the first installment of a list of books that may be of particular interest to women scientists, as well as to our male counterparts:

Start of with Mapping Fate, by Alice Wexler. A true story that tell the tale of the search for the Huntington's disease gene and the effect of the disease on the Wexler family. It also describes the role that Nancy Wexler, Alice's sister, played in catalyzing the search.

Suggestions on books about women scientists that I picked up from folks on the Women in Science and Engineering Network (WISEnet), but have not yet read myself, include:

Margaret Rossiter's first volume is call Women Scientists in America: Struggles and Strategies to 1940, published by the Johns Hopkins University Press in 1982. The second volume, Women Scientists in America: Before Affirmative Action 1940-1972 has just been published also by the Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995

Women of Science: Righting the Record, edited by G. Kass-Simon and Patricia Farnes, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1990.

Mary Morse describes her work, Women Changing Science: Voice for a Field in Transition: "The books takes a brief look at the feminist critique of science, women's involvement in the history of science, and science education. A great deal of attention is paid to the working culture of contemporary scientists, including academic and industrial workplaces. With a wealth of input from contemporary scientists in the U.S. and around the world, the book considers the role of gender differences in science, the cooperation vs. competition questions, scientific ethics, and the intractable difficulties inherent in balancing a family and/or personal life with a scientific career. The debate on all of these topics is quite lively. Extended interviews with women in science policy, young women scientists, and others bring to light some remarkable ideas and expectations for science. Of course, the books wouldn't be complete without examining today's dismal job prospects for scientists of both sexes." Insight Books/Plenum Publishing.

Women of Mathematics: A Bibliographic Sourcebook, edited by Louise S. Grinstrin and Paul J. Campbell, Greenwood Press, Westport, 1987.

A Passion for Physics, and autobiography by Joan Freeman; published by Adam Hilger, 1991.

Do men and women differ in their abilities?
Myths of Gender, by Anne Fausto-Sterlin

Londa Schiebinger's The Mind has No Sex

Other books of interest:
On WISEnet, Kristin said, "I wil recommend that anyone who's been intrigued by the discussion of sexual mores and the law pick up a copy of Pat Califia's Public Sex (Cleis Press). It's a collection of her essays over the last decade or so, and takes on just about every legal/social attempt to regulate sexual behavior that exists in this country, including a few, like kiddy port crackdowns, that most people never question. Even if you disagree with everything she says, I promise it will make you think. An absolute 'must read' for anyone with evern a passing interest in these issues."

Olga Silverstein and Beth Rashbaum, The Courage to Raise Good Men, Viking Press, NY, 1994. It's about how to transcend the "irrelevance of traditional concepts of masculinity," i.e. sports and arguing (violence and dominance).

Nancy Howard of Central Washington University says, "a good book of confronting and stopping harassers is Back Off! by Martha J. Langelan, available in paperback from Simon and Schuster, 1993. She has a chapter on why people harass, examining the behavior from historical, social, and economic perspectives. She also has some very practical ways for women to stop sexual harassment - at work, at school, in the community, etc. There's also a chapter on how men can be allies with women in stopping harassment.

Kathleen Bartle-Schilweis, Director of the Caltech Women's Center, lists over 35 holdings on women in science. For information on borrowing the materials or a copy of the list, call (818) 395-3221.

Send WICB your favorites, and we'll add them to our list (contact Laura Williams, Tel/Fax: (510) 524-1647 E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

-W. Sue Shafer, Chair of the WICB Committee, Associate Director for Extramural Activities at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences


Parental and Unpaid Leave; Ruth Monaghan and New NIH Guidelines for Payback Service; Evelyn Fine

Trainees and fellow supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Research Services Awards have raised various questions covering the policies and procedures that apply to parental and unpaid leave. Effective October 1993, the leave polices pertaining to these awards were liberalized. They now include specific provisions for parental leave and unpaid leave.

Specifically, trainees/fellows may continue to receive stipends for up to 30 calendar days of parental leave per year for the adoption or the birth of a child when those in comparable training positions at the grantee or sponsoring institution have access to paid leave for this purpose. Individuals requiring an extended period of time away from their research training experience must seek approval for an unpaid leave of absence. A few examples of circumstances that might require an unpaid leave of absence include their requirement to care for a seriously ill family member, a unique training experience, or an extended maternity/paternity leave.

For trainees, requests for the above leave must be approved by the Program Director of the training grant will appropriate documentation submitted to the NIH Institute or Center that made the award. For individual fellows, requests must be submitted to awarding component indicating the reason and amount of leave required. This request should include supporting documentation from the sponsor and also provide an indication as to the effect such leave would have on the individual's total training program.

The specific procedures concerning the mechanisms to be followed when requesting such an absence are detailed in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, Volume 22, Number 38, October 22, 1993.

For additional information, call either the grants management specialist listed on your Notice of Grant Award or Ruth Monaghan and (301) 594-5135.

-Ruth Monaghan, Deputy Grants Management Officer of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, NIH.

New NIH Guidelines for Payback Service
The NIH guidelines for payback service by National Research Service Award (NRSA) recipients were expanded. Acceptable payback service includes health-related activities associated with the description, diagnosis, prevention or treatment of disease from the most basic biomedical or behavioral research to the most applied or clinical research. In addition to fields usually considered to be directly related to human disease, activities in other fields such as agriculture, environmental sciences, biotechnology, and bioengineering will also be considered health-related.

Generally, biotechnology positions acceptable for payback service are required to included developing protocols, working with a research group, or reviewing original research i.e., providing scientific direction and guidance. Functions that involve analytical other technical activities conducted in direct support of research will also be accepted.

Acceptable teaching activities now include teaching in primary schools and secondary schools as well as colleges, universities, professional schools, research institutes and teaching hospitals. For teaching, it is permissible to include three hours of preparation time for each hour of direct instruction.

Dissertation-related research and teaching are now acceptable payback activities. Clinical research and teaching during the pursuit of a medical education, including internship and residency programs, are also acceptable.

For any payback activity to be acceptable, it must average 20 or more hours per week. In determining the hours of acceptable payback service, preparation time and administrative duties pertaining to this activity may be included.

Past activities that conform to the new payback service guidelines may be credited as payback service. Therefore, in an NRSA recipient believes that she/he should contact the program or grants management person listing on the award statement or the program director.

-Evelyn Fine, Payback Officer, National Institute of General Medical Sciences, NIH


Why Argue for Affirmative Action?; Caroline Kane

The WICB will periodically publish a column to provide information that is of special concern and interest to women in cell biology and to report on the activities of the WICB. With the members of the WICB Committee, I will edit and organize this column. The opinions expressed in the column when they appear with attribution are those of the author, and do no necessarily reflect a policy position of the WICB Committee or the ASCB. If you have any ideas that you would like addressed, please contact me.
-This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., University of California, Berkeley

Why Argue for Affirmative Action?
Affirmative action. These words press emotional buttons because they apparently evoke distinct images for different people. There is ongoing public debate about the merits of affirmative action. Fourteen of the twenty-five Regents of the University of California recently voted to eliminate the consideration of race, ethnicity and gender from the admissions process. That is, they said affirmative action was no longer needed and was in fact discriminatory. However, President Clinton has recently reaffirmed his Administration's support for affirmative action. He indicated that if there were problems in the implementation of affirmative action, we should "mend it, not end it." In my opinion, the nation clearly has benefited and continues to benefit from affirmative action programs.

In biological research, creative brain power is paramount in developing and implementing new approaches to important questions. In the United States, most of that brainpower has arisen from a limited pool, European-American males. Many exceptionally important advances have been made from this pool of scientists. However, there is a larger pool of qualified individuals whose thoughts and efforts expand and enrich the thinking about biological problems. Many of these individuals have felt unwelcome in the infrastructure of science and have taken their talents to other disciplines.

Demographics show use that the United States of the near future will not be predominantly European-American. Enlisting and educating women and individuals from groups traditionally underrepresented in biology ensures that future educators and leaders will reflect the future populations. Recruiting students from among these groups and encouraging them to enter the science is affirmative action. Providing opportunities that promote the success of these individuals is affirmative action. Networking these individuals into the scientific community is affirmative action. Affirmative action is not exclusion; it is inclusion of the entire spectrum of qualified and motivated individuals whose talents can overcome the barriers of the unknown. That is, affirmative action requires identifying and encouraging persons who will carry out the research necessary to understand the variety of biological mysteries and who can carry their training into the general community through teaching, communication, government service, and other activities.

A primary source of angst in the affirmative action discussion is the definition of the terms "qualified" and "most meritorious." Traditionally, for students applying to colleges and universities, numerical scores have provided the objective definition of who is most qualified. However, phony satisfaction is obtained from such a definition, since educators from pre-school to graduate school know well that such numerical scores alone cannot predict "success." There are many examples in which high scorers fail to fulfill expectations, and low scorers become successful professionals. Numerical scores are both a useful and an important component of evaluating ability, motivation, and potential, but they are, or should be, only a limited part of such an evaluation. As professionals, we each have our own perception of the individual who has the ability, motivation and potential to succeed in the biological sciences, and this perception is based on our own career experiences.

How then to increase student diversity? Challenge traditional and often comfortable definitions of "success" that reduce an individual to numerical considerations. Although it may be difficult to evaluate ability, motivation, and potential individuals from environments often very different from our own, recognize students who are intellectually adept, have taken fill advantage of their opportunities and demonstrate a capability to persevere. Improve the evaluation of these students by increasing the diversity of persons doing the evaluating. Involve yourself personally of politically in science education in your own community. There are many routes for doing this through the ASCB. Encourage and assist individuals with an interest in biology to show them that regardless of the attitudes they may encounter, they can excel if they put heart and mind to it. Therein lies affirmatively acting to be sure that all budding scientists are provided the opportunity to be identified, encouraged, challenged, and nurtured into a career where their unique talents and insights are sorely needed.

-This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., WICB Committee Member, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley. Kane is also a member of the Coalition for Excellence and Diversity in Math, Science, and Engineering on the Berkeley campus.

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