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Elisabeth Pain , , , ,

Career Boosters for Women and Minority Scientists

Another Science Careers session held at the AAAS Annual Meeting in San Diego last Friday afternoon aimed to give women and underrepresented minority scientists some practical tips on boosting their chances to get onto the next rung of the academic career ladder.  Instead of spinning a narrative, I’m just highlighing some of the main points the speakers made in their presentation.


Dr Hind Saidani-Scott, Senior Lecturer in mechanical engineering at Bristol University, U.K.:

  • I do not like defeats. I have always been a fighter and you need to be one if you want to succeed.
  • If you have a problem (racism, harassment, discrimination) tackle it when it occurs.
  • Do not use [family tasks] as an excuse to miss meetings or deadlines.
  • Just keep going. The more you achieve, the easiest it becomes.
  • As women you will have huge challenges to overcome. But if we want things to improve, we have to learn from our experiences and try to help others in similar situations instead of saying ‘we overcame these problems [ourselves], so let them do it the hard way.’


Regents and Joaquin Bustoz Jr. Professor Carlos Castillo-Chavez of Arizona State University

  • MULTIPLE mentors (research, inspirational, savvy, etc.)
  • Mentors at a DISTANCE are essential  (phone, skype …)
  • Isolation and Stress are the Biggest Challenges at every single step
  • Membership in a real community of professionals of your type
  • Regular Access to Professional Development Programs
  • Sacrifices may only be truly understood by your peers. Need to stay connected to a community of your own scientific peers–they can be your support group and the best INITIAL source of information


Associate Professor of African American Studies & Sociology Kerry Ann Rockquemore, University of Illinois at Chicago (You may find Professor Rockquemore’s entire presentation, ‘Playing to Win’, on her web site

  • Know how your institution works organizationally and the unwritten Rules of Engagement
  • Align time and priorities, develop a strategic plan, learn how to manage conflict
  • Know what you need and get it from the BEST source
  • Many core needs can be met outside of traditional mentoring relationships
  • Be strategic with “mentors” so that you get from them the things only they can give you
  • There are resources for your support, but you have to pro-actively seek them out


Dr JoAnn Moody, Faculty Development and Diversity Specialist in San Diego (The tex below are excerpts from a document Professor Moody distributed on the day and is a summary from Professor Moody’s 2009 booklet ‘Solo Faculty: Improving Retention and Reducing Stress”. More information can be found on her Web site

Predictable stressors and complex dynamics faced by a ‘solo’ (“one of a numerical few”)

  • Standing for a stereotype and a group (“I somehow represent my whole tribe”)
  • Heightened visibility and feeling in the spotlight
  • Awkward moments, micro-agressions (both deliberate and non-deliberate)
  • Solo often has to sort through ‘What did that comment mean? … Or Am I being too sensitive?
  • Performance pressures