E. Cultural Issues
Some of the strongest, but most difficult to quantify,
reasons that individuals from underrepresented groups can feel
disadvantaged arise from a mismatch with the majority "culture" --
i.e., implicit norms and
expectations of behavior. Specific recommendations that are made above
would go far toward dealing with some of these issues in terms of
policies and practices, but there remains a large gray area of subtle
cultural issues that contribute to the underrepresentation of women in
tenured and other leadership roles. In the words of Jocelyn Bell
Burnell (Science 304, p. 489, 2004): "Women and
minorities should not do all the adapting. It is time for society to
move toward women, not women toward society."
Follow-up Suggestions for Implementation:
- Institutions should encourage gender-equity training and make it
available at all levels. This should include discussions of the
well-studied effects of subtle discrimination, unconscious bias, and
the accumulation of disadvantage.
- In an era in which the ability to work within a large team is
becoming increasingly important for scientific success, departments
should foster a collaborative and team-oriented approach rather than
just the more traditional, competitive scientific culture. Responsibilities
and rewards should be shared equitably in the team environment. It is
also expected that such a team should be composed of diverse members of
the department, where appropriate (for example, men and women, junior
and senior faculty, students, etc.).
- Good communication channels should be maintained and encouraged
throughout academic departments and laboratories, both within peer
groups and spanning traditional hierarchical levels. Department
chairs should organize regular opportunities for two-way communication
throughout the hierarchy.
- Institutions should ensure that a career in research is compatible
with having a family; professional activities (e.g., class and
meeting schedules) as well as employment benefits (e.g., childcare,
family leave, etc.)
should be developed with this specific goal in mind.