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10 Things Everyone Can Do to Support Women Scientists

A recent Virtual Issue published by Molecular Pharmaceutics highlights the work of some of the journal’s most creative and successful woman pharmaceutical scientists across academia and the pharmaceutical industry. The articles were selected by the journal Editors and they provide a cross-section of the many challenging research areas being tackled by women in the pharmaceutical sciences. In an accompanying editorial, they summarize these contributions and provide some thoughts on how the pharmaceutical science community can support and promote their women colleagues.

Here are 10 things everyone can do to support women scientists:

  1. Women scientists need allies and coaches, and these need to come from the entire scientific cohort, both men and women.
  2. Nominate women for awards. Perhaps make it a yearly resolution to nominate a minimum of 3 women for an award, including graduate students, postdoctoral associates, faculty and work colleagues, collaborators, etc.
  3. If you are organizing a session at a conference, make sure you have women on the organizing committees and invite women speakers and moderators.
  4. If you are a speaker at a conference, encourage the session organizers to invite women, especially if they are under-represented within the session. Consider refusing to speak if women are not adequately represented at a session.
  5. Mentor women scientists. The support provided by mentorship is essential to help women scientists achieve their full potential.
  6. Ensure that there is gender balance on important decision-making committees and panels (hiring, promotion, proposal review, financial allocation, etc.), but do not overburden women with low-importance service committees.
  7. Be an active bystander: call out people in meetings who interrupt or talk over women, and intervene if women presenters face aggressive and dismissive questioning at conferences. Do not allow the voices and suggestions of women to be ignored in meetings.
  8. Promote the work of women scientists by citing their papers, talking about their work, and inviting them to give presentations.
  9. Recognize that you may be subject to implicit bias and take steps to counteract it. Implicit bias against women is an issue for both women and men and leads to subtle acts of discrimination such as less enthusiastic letters of recommendation relative to counterparts who are men or the automatic assumption that the man in the room is the senior person.
  10. Nominate women for leadership positions including within the workplace, in professional organizations, and for editorial roles.

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