Women in Science at Rockefeller: 2018 - 2019 Report
Author: Stephanie Marcus
Posted on: July 4, 2019
We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished this year and we’d like to share our progress with you as we transition into a new year. Here’s a brief summary of events, initiatives, and various developments within WISeR as well as brought about through external collaborations. Thank you so much for all your support!
Sep 2018 Board Game Night
Oct 2018 Pearl Meister Greengard Prize Luncheon with Dr. Jennifer Doudna
Nov 2018 WISeR x Girls Inc. Mentorship Event
Dec 2018 Tri-I Women in Science Holiday Mixer
Jan 2019 Women in STEM Pregame @ Caveat
Feb 2019 Galentine’s Day Favors
Mar 2019 Dr. Cyd Cipolla Lecture: ‘Put Yourself Back in the Narrative: The Past, Present, and Future of Women in Science’
Apr 2019 Mentorship Mixer
May 2019 Female Awareness Self-Defense Workshops
May 2019 Luncheon with Dr. Nancy Hopkins
Jun 2019 Mentorship Program Dinner
1. Friday Lecture Breakfasts: WISeR and PRISM co-host a breakfast each Friday morning during the academic year with the Rockefeller Friday Lecture speaker. These breakfasts are intended to be discussions that focus on career development and diversity within the sciences. This is your chance to ask our Friday Lecture Series speakers questions that we often never get to ask. All trainees are welcome to attend; PRISM and WISeR members receive priority seating.
2. Mentorship Program: We’re working to fulfill an unmet need within the Rockefeller community: peer-mentorship focused on career development, relationship navigation, leadership skills, and networking. These are vital skills for all scientists, both in and out of academia.
3. Portrait of a Female Scientist Initiative: The many men depicted in art throughout the halls of the university tell only part of the story of Rockefeller’s history. We are working with Development and the Women & Science Initiative to commission a portrait of a female scientist from Rockefeller’s past. This is an opportunity and platform to support the women on campus by showing recognition and a greater appreciation for those who paved the way.
One important aspect of the work that we’ve been doing is to share with new members of Rockefeller what our mission and goals are as well as how individuals can make a difference in the community.
Sep 2018 New student orientation (with the Dean’s Office)
Feb 2018 Student recruitment (with RiSI and PRISM)
Jul 2019 RA orientation (with HR)
Developments and Collaborations
1. Faculty club bathrooms: It feels like ages ago now, but the gender neutral bathrooms at FC were finally unveiled in Nov 2018! Shout out to Virginia Huffman in HR as well as the generations of WISeR board members who heavily advocated for this change.
2. Recruitment: We’ve been working on strategies to reach people as soon as they get on campus. With invitations from RiSI, the Dean’s Office, and HR we’ve been able to discuss WISeR during orientation days. We’re also collaborating with HR to reach new hires directly through orientation folders with an introductory flyer.
3. HR, PRISM, RiSI, and the SRC: This past year, we worked in collaboration with HR, PRISM, RiSI, and the SRC to develop the campus climate survey, honing language significant to underrepresented groups on campus.
4. RockEDU: The leadership team of RockEDU has provided advice and support in numerous ways throughout the past year. We particularly wanted to thank them for holding a mentorship training night prior to our WISeR x Girls Inc. mentorship event to teach our members how to effectively discuss science and academia to middle school students.
5. Twitter: We’ve been loving Twitter! We went from a few followers last spring to 150 and counting. It’s been a great way to connect with other women in science groups, keep up with all the latest news, and pass on information.
6. Website: The board spearheaded our shift to Squarespace, helping to update, reorganize, categorize, and streamline the website so that all of our resources and information are available and easily found.
Representation at External Meetings / Events
1. The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine Convocation: ‘Together We Can Do Better: A Convening of Leaders in Academia to Prevent Sexual Harassment’
2. International Day of Women and Girls in Science at the United Nation: ‘Investment in Women and Girls in Science for Inclusive Green Growth’
3. Lyda Hill IF/THEN Convocation at the Museum of Natural History
This year’s success was largely due to the profound efforts, advice, and/or support from the current WISeR board and these following individuals:
Special Thanks To:
· Barbara Bosch
· Pilar Mendoza Daroca
· Jeanne Garbarino
· Emily Harms
· Astrid Hoffius
· Virginia Huffman and Kara Marshak
· Maren Imhoff, Laurel Birch, Amanda Martinez, and Rebecca Wahrman
· Tatiane Kanno and Brigid Mahoney
· Megan Elizabeth Kelley
· Eliza Llewellyn
· Gabriella Spitz-Becker
· Krithika Venkataraman
“Nevertheless, she persisted.”
Author: Emily Dennis
Posted on: February 9, 2017
On Tuesday on the Senate floor, Senator Elizabeth Warren tried to read a letter from Coretta Scott King in which she opposed now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s 1986 federal nomination. The Republican senators voted to formally silence her, saying: “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
It’s been so encouraging and uplifting to see so many people use this as a rallying cry to continue to fight for their rights and the rights of those around them, to lift each other up, and to figure out new ways to work together to build a better future in our communities. Inspired by this, we made a set of #Resistance Facebook covers to help break up our Facebook feeds with some positivity and reminders that our struggles are part of a long history of people who constantly push the boundaries in the present so we can all have a better future.
We’ve made these Facebook covers all available for free to download here (just right-click and select “Save Image”) and on our WISeR Facebook page.
Learning from 2016, to make 2017 WISeR’s best year yet
Author: Emily Dennis
Posted on: January 2, 2017
Many of us are relieved that 2016 has finally come to a close, but even with its struggles, 2016 was a great year for WISeR and Rockefeller.
In this new year, I want to thank you all for your investment into this group and participation in our activities. I’m excited to share with you both some highlights from 2016, as well as our plans for this new year (and how you can get more involved). We had a huge jump in volunteers and feedback from our members in 2016, and I’m looking forward to have even more folks come together in 2017 to make Rockefeller a better place for women and minorities.
WISeR ended 2015 with a survey of campus and started 2016 evaluating the survey results and sharing them with committees and campus leaders. We are happy to see at least two of the suggestions we made were already in the works or have emerged:
As we post this, construction has started on the faculty club bathrooms, which have long been bemoaned by women on campus. The men’s bathroom (3 urinals, 3 stalls) and women’s bathroom (1 stall) are being merged to create a spacious, modern, gender neutral bathroom with 8 fully private stalls.
We have also already seen the benefits of a serious investment in revamping the open search for junior faculty. Rockefeller recruited several great new faculty members, including two women and our first black faculty member, Dr. Erich Jarvis! We look forward to the other amazing talent we continue to recruit with this increased attention to and appreciation of diversity and inclusion. We will continue to push to make sure the tenure process to is or will be similarly evaluated for bias and improved.
These victories would not be possible without feedback from you, members, and we’ve enjoyed hearing from you as we’ve continued our yearly traditions, like our breakfast series (which we now share with PRISM), our annual end-of-year BBQ, and our members meetings. We’ve also launched several new programs and events, which you can learn more about by reading and clicking the links below:
New Programs in 2016
Elections. We had our first elections and elected a fantastic board to lead and administrate this great group this year. We hope this increases transparency and opportunities to get involved.
Woman of the month. We launched a blog series highlighting amazing alumnae from Rockefeller. So far, we’ve met with Monica Mugnier who just started her lab at Johns Hopkins, and Jeanne Garbarino, head of Outreach. (If you have an alumna you’d love to meet and write about, let us know. We’ll help you get in touch, pay for your coffee/lunch, and help you write about the experience!)
Tri-I Women in Science Mixer. We had our first Tri-I Women in Science Mixer, where we brought together all of the women’s groups and met, talked about science, and shared some of thoughts and experiences. We definitely plan to do this again next year!
Faculty Search Bootcamp. Along with the PDA and Andrea Morris, we helped start the now annual faculty search bootcamp which prepares a small group of currently-applying postdocs to face the academic job market through a few intensive days covering everything from cover letters to chalk talks and negotiating start ups.
Improv(e) Your Science. Dr. Aniek Ivens, a postdoc in the Kronauer lab, has been leading improv workshops to help scientists improve their presentation skills in a fun and accessible way. We’ve held a few of these workshops, and Aniek plans to hold a few more in the new year (as well as a level 2 workshop!).
Anti-Harassment Workshops. WISeR hired Dr. Sherry Martz to come talk about how individual women can learn to spot, stop, and prevent certain forms of harassment, and also techniques to safely remove yourself from some difficult situations.
Feminist Book Club. I am most proud of our new Feminist Book Club, which meets ~monthly to discuss feminist readings. The goal of this group is not only to get people together and talk about feminism, but also to increase the awareness of feminist thought and topics at Rockefeller and hopefully impact the discourse at our events and around campus. Also, it’s just great to have an excuse to read fantastic work! You can join in the next meeting by reading Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and joining the group on January 23, 8pm in the Faculty Club.
Things to Look Forward to in 2017
Survey. We will again survey the campus specifically about issues relevant to women and gender minorities on campus as well as issues that particularly affect women and gender minorities. To do this, we need to know what is important to our community, what levels of support already exist on campus, and where we can better educate people about our community’s needs.
Mentorship Program. I am so excited to see the launch of our mentorship program January 28th!
Letters of Recommendation. We are working on a blog post to raise awareness about how letters of recommendation are often biased, and how our faculty can make sure our female trainees are getting the same leg up that our male trainees have from the ever-coveted recommendation letters from faculty.
Campus Lecture Series. Many of our members have noticed that not all campus seminars are created equal. We’ll be launching an awareness and improvement campaign directed at making our campus lecture series more diverse.
Outreach: Lab Out Loud. We’re partnering up with one of Rockefeller’s greatest assets, RockEdu, to co-host Lab Out Loud on February 28th. We’ll be looking for members to share their stories of failure as an important aspect of science that isn’t often highlighted for young folks interested in our career paths. We’ll also get to meet and talk to each other and high schoolers about what it’s like to be a scientist.
Wikipedia edit-a-thon. Wikipedia entries for female scientists are few and far between, and usually have very little information compared to their male peers. We’re aiming to change that by editing existing entries and adding new ones under the guidance of certified Wikipedians with fellow women in science from around the city.
And more… We’re always open to new ideas, and have some flexibility in our budget to make new things happen. Some of these new ideas include:
Leaning into academia bootcamp
We’ve also had a lot of folks talk to us about anxiety around policies to come under the new Presidential administration that target women, minorities, and immigrant communities. WISeR is addressing these concerns in a few ways:
Sharing your concerns anonymously. We will communicate your concerns to the Rockefeller administration and will pressure them to provide resources and a statement of how we will protect the amazing community we have on campus as many are concerned about their lives, bodies, and their immigration status. The more stories we have, the more powerful our case, so please share your story here.
Providing (low energy barrier) places for action. We will provide a few political action events, as well as places to use our skills and knowledge to improve the lives of women in science. Outreach like our Lab Out Loud event on February 28th provides opportunities to meet with and talk to students, and our Wikipedia edit-a-thon address problems in science that we can actively impact immediately.
Providing a place for positive change. WISeR can’t change the outcome of the election, but we can make our labs safer and better places, we can improve the lives of women at Rockefeller, and we can work toward a more equal scientific enterprise. We can also make sure your voices are heard through our blog, and build a community focused on helping each other and lifting each other up. Every bit matters, and we will provide as many places for you to improve the world we live in as we can.
What can you do to get more involved? You can always contact us and we can either find a place where you would like to get involved in one of our ongoing programs, or we can help you launch an idea or project of your own. To join some ongoing programs, you can:
Join our mailing list (and follow us on Facebook) we always have new projects and events, some which are only available to our community through our email list.
Recommend a woman or minority speaker. We’ll do a big push for speakers later in 2017, but we’re constantly accepting ideas and will keep an ongoing list for the different groups on campus (and if the list is big enough, for the whole scientific community).
Host a breakfast with a FLS speaker by emailing our awesome breakfast coordinator, Sarah Stern.
Join the mentorship team for our January 28th launch!
Interview an alumna! We’ll buy you both lunch, you write about her for the blog. It can be a former postdoc, graduate student, or faculty member.
Give input on the 2017 survey! Help us make sure it’s as useful and great as our last survey.
Volunteer for Lab Out Loud Tell a short story about a time you failed, or come talk to high schoolers after the event, or both!
Write for our blog. We’ve sent people to see Ghostbusters and to talks around the city. Check in with us before you go and we can buy your ticket and/or help you write. Email Maryam Zaringhalam with ideas or questions!
Join our board. We’ll be looking for a few new board members in May as we have a few of our current board members leaving Rockefeller for new jobs. To become a board member you must demonstrate interest/commitment like being involved in one of our ongoing activities so definitely volunteer for one or more of the activities above and let us know if you want to be more involved.
I became President of this great group at the end of 2015. I am so proud of what we have accomplished over the last year, and I can not wait to see what we can accomplish together in 2017. If there’s anything I can do to help us serve you better, please don’t hesitate to let me know!
Now, let’s get to work.
Recap: Tri-I Women in Science Meet at First Annual Mixer
Author: Emily Dennis
Posted on: August 22, 2016
Last Spring WISeR worked with Weill-Cornell and MSKCC’s women in science groups to throw the first Tri-I women in science mixer.
We had 71 people attend, evenly distributed from each of our women in science groups (25-31% from each group). Over wine, beer, and snacks, we learned more about each other over an icebreaker, as we asked folks to collect the initials or signature of 2 people who could say they:
Have a tattoo
Have gone skydiving
Are a graduate student
… and many more!
Ali Ehrlich (who is now one of the WISeR board members!) completed this task in the fastest time and won a gift card to Amazon.
We then broke up into teams to compete in relevant trivia. You can test your own skills by seeing if you can match the scientist to her discovery here!
You can follow this link for the answer key.
We want to thank our co-sponsors at Weill-Cornell and MSKCC, Andrea Morris in the Dean’s Office, and one of our members, Veronica Jove, for helping us run this great event! Also thanks to all of you who came and made this event so much fun. See you next year!
The Results Are In: 2015 WISeR Survey Responses
Author: Emily Dennis
Posted on: June 23, 2016
In October 2015, WISeR surveyed the campus to find out how we can best serve our community. Now, we’re sharing the results with you!
In October 2015, WISeR sent out a survey to the campus community. We designed this survey ourselves in collaboration with a group of our members and members of the Parent’s Association. We received 255 responses (and only two joke responses, one from a yeast and one from a dinosaur, which were both discarded from further analysis).
Our goal for this survey was to help us figure out what the Rockefeller community actually needs and wants so WISeR can better serve the community. We were pleased to see so many people were interested and invested enough to respond and provide their opinions. We have used these data many times as we make decisions on events to hold and new projects to start. Since this survey went out, we want to note that a few things have changed on campus:
PRISM (People at Rockefeller Identifying as Sexual Minorities) successfully launched!
Rockefeller has hired Dr. Li Xhao, an amazing evolutionary biologist
HR added additional Bright Horizon’s options for parents
CFC expanded to accommodate more children
WISeR and the Dean’s Office co-hosted an anti-harassment workshop
After the survey, we held committee meetings with interested WISeR members to discuss these data and our interpretations. We used those meetings to form this document (and a few other more detailed documents) which we opened for comment for a few weeks, and then incorporated feedback. Emily Dennis presented the final document to RUDI (Rockefeller University Diversity Initiative) in the spring of 2016 and to Rockefeller’s incoming president, Dr. Richard Lifton, in June. All of the information below were presented to these groups.
We also have had several discussions with different administrators about these data, which led to a few corrections:
Rockefeller does have a few avenues for parental leave, from 5 days for partners immediately following birth (or for either/both parents after an adoption), and 12 weeks paid leave for those giving birth. HR also works with individuals to tailor leave to their needs.
HR does track employee salaries and breakdowns by gender. There are no significant differences in pay between genders.
General Counsel asked us to remove the word ‘quotas’ from our results because quotas are not legal under Equal Opportunity Employment.
HR currently receives anonymous complaints through phone calls, emails, and letters.
We are pleased that these documents generated so much interest from both the trainees and administrators, and hope the administration completes their own surveys of trainees, staff, and faculty to help guide future decisions. We at WISeR also plan to re-survey trainees each year to help us guide our programming.
Thanks to everyone who responded and took part in these many discussions, and please let us know if you have additional thoughts or questions by commenting here or emailing us at wiser(at)rockefeller.edu.
The above figure shows the demographics of all survey responders.
This figure demonstrates how much of the Rockefeller population of trainees (research assistants, students postdocs, and research associates) who responded to our survey. Red bars are the percentage of the entire population, and the orange and blue bars reflect the percentage of women or men, respectively, responding to our survey. The raw numbers are written in white at the bottom of each bar. We do not have campus data for URM or sexual minority identification of individuals.
Executive summary of suggestions for the administration
From RUDI and/or the President’s Office
A statement of importance of diversity here at Rockefeller, at all levels.
An acknowledgement of the problems currently prohibiting the recruitment, success, and retention of women and minorities at Rockefeller.
A statement of plans to address the problems identified. Open comment periods coupled with presented proposals would be ideal.
Semi-annual or quarterly update detailing progress toward each problem area and area of growth.
University should make available a campus snapshot of data for labs, awards, junior faculty hiring, etc. This should be built on examples like the Berkeley Diversity Snapshot and include information for all genders, sexual minorities, and URMs. We note that this would provide a great space to brag about our amazing alumni.
A list of all outreach and recruitment programs as part of an action plan for increasing diversity should be publicized and available. We recommend reviewing NASA’s action plans as a template.
Major changes or initiatives should include feedback from those who will be impacted. For example, a proposal to institute anonymous reporting could be released and feedback from trainees and employees collected for one week before final budgets or plans are made.
To make campus a better place for women and minorities:
We recommend Rockefeller hire a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO). This person can provide knowledge and consistency to Rockefeller’s plans and ensure diversity is a priority across campus endeavors like those suggested here. Additionally, Rockefeller’s faculty recruitment process has struggled to hire women and minorities. Therefore it is necessary to have outside help from individuals who have not been a part of the process and who can provide evidence-based guidance as we work to fix these problems. Rockefeller should include a diversity advisor, either the CDO or someone chosen by the CDO, in all major decision making processes regarding faculty: specifically, this advisor should be present in all junior faculty interview process discussions and in all tenure-related discussions. This person’s role is to ensure that all conversations relating to these important decisions are free from unconscious and conscious biases, and to oversee and implement best practices across campus.
We recommend that the campus install an anonymous reporting system. We want to additionally recognize the need for efficient, well-communicated investigatory mechanisms to accompany any anonymous reporting. In short, anonymous reporting is necessary but not sufficient, as outlined in the AAUP guidelines here. Calling the Title IX coordinator and mailing letters is not sufficient.
Provide gender neutral bathrooms. Ideally, this would include large gender-neutral bathrooms, paired with small, private, family bathrooms with changing tables.This requires converting existing bathrooms to gender neutral spaces in every building, and including gender neutral bathrooms in the plans for the new Stavros Niarchos Foundation-David Rockefeller River Campus. We recommend reviewing Cooper Union’s program and policies.
Increase the artistic representation of women and URMs (underrepresented minorities) at Rockefeller. If the university cannot find equal representation, we recommend that they replace the surplus white, male art with non-portrait pieces from the university’s collection.
Provide bystander intervention training at all levels by a trained professional(s). This could be either taught by or coordinated by the Chief Diversity Officer.
We also recommend that Rockefeller complete a Campus Pride Index evaluation to determine areas to improve the lives of sexual minorities on campus. In general, groups like WISeR, PRISM, and TIMS (Tri-I Minority Society) should become a more integral part of campus.
For Faculty Recruitment: We created an entire document just on this very popular topic, but our current suggestions can be summarized here:
Unconscious bias training should be required of all individuals with hiring and tenure decision making powers and not taught by the chief of staff, but by either the Chief Diversity Officer or someone similar.
Anyone who has demonstrated an inability to create equal work environments should not be allowed to serve on committees involved in hiring and tenure decisions. We recommend the labs be ranked by % women and ideally, % minorities, and anyone with a lab larger than 4-6 trainees who is in the bottom 25% of this ranking should be excluded from these decisions.
Ensure equal opportunity on campus: the tenure process at Rockefeller is incredibly opaque, and also may be a major factor in our lack of female faculty.
Any strategy to increase female faculty should include a review of the tenure system.
A Chief Officer of Diversity should be hired and involved in these decisions.
New Years Message from the President
Posted on: January 9, 2016
This week, Marc Tessier-Lavigne sent out a glowing report on Rockefeller’s accomplishments in 2015 and what we can look forward to in 2016. WISeR was excited to see a mention of the ongoing and growing efforts to make our campus even-better for women and minorities.
We can also look forward to what I hope will be another robust year for faculty recruitment, which is crucial to maintaining our excellence in bioscience. In the coming months, we will hold discussions with five finalists identified by our mid-career hiring committee, as well as a dozen candidates who have come through our open search process. We are particularly mindful of the gender imbalance among our tenured and tenure-track scientists, and we have formed a committee specifically charged with examining the issue of diversity on campus and generating ideas for improvement in this area. The Rockefeller University Diversity Initiative (RUDI) consists of faculty, administrative, student, and postdoc representatives and will work closely with me to consider current practices and develop new recommendations. You will learn more about RUDI’s activities in the upcoming year.
We at WISeR also look forward to this new year and can’t wait to see what RUDI accomplishes.
WISeR Restructuring Meeting
Posted on: December 14, 2015
As many of you may know, over the last few months WISeR has been developing a constitution to clarify our purpose, provide a more formal structure, and to make our leadership board and activities more accessible and transparent for our members and the larger Rockefeller community that we serve.
On December 10th, the WISeR Board met and finalized our constitution and held elections. We also updated our mission statement.
Our new mission statement reads: To promote the institutional equality and success of women scientists at The Rockefeller University by serving as a platform for professional development and community advocacy.
A copy of the Constitution can be found here.
We also held elections and unanimously voted for
President: Emily Dennis
Vice-President: Mariko Kobayashi
Treasurer: Catherine Pei-Ju Lu
Secretary: Shruti Naik
through August 1, 2016, when we will hold our first elections as described in the Constitution.
Items tabled for future discussion:
Membership requirements: we decided to not include any requirements for membership at this time. It was suggested that members be required to attend one event and complete the WISeR survey each year. However, we wanted to be as inclusive as possible for now, especially since the membership program itself is so new, and we will determine if a tiered membership program would be useful in the future. We will revisit this in next year’s Constitution review meeting.
Board positions: We decided to include only a small set of descriptions in the constitution itself, but we also noted that each board member must lead or co-lead at least one major initiative of WISeR. Examples include: alumni outreach; social media and web presence; coordination of FLS breakfasts, WIS lunches, and Insight lecture teas; and member relations.
Other: We had a very productive meeting, but noted there were additional details that should be discussed early next year, like all roles for each existing board member and how to transition when we know board members are going to leave the group, especially if that occurs before the end of a persons’ term. We will discuss this at our next board members meeting.
First Members Meeting
Posted on: December 13, 2015
On November 18th, we had our first members meeting.
The Board introduced ourselves, and then everyone enjoyed, wine, cheese, and each others company. We also discussed five major facets of WISeR, each had their own table:
Breakfasts and Scientific Meetings
Each of us received many great ideas from our members and recruited volunteers for our initiatives. We were overwhelmed with the amazing response from our awesome members.
Thanks to all who came and made it such a successful event! We look forward to following up on all of these great ideas and contributions in the new year.
Posted on: December 13, 2015
RUDI (Rockefeller University Diversity Initiative) is a new initiative began by co-chairs Leslie Vosshall and Chief of Staff Timothy O’Connor.
WISeR has nominated Devon Collins as the student representative and Aakanksha Singhvi as the postdoc/research associate representative.
We thank everyone who expressed interest in this position and can’t want to see what RUDI accomplishes!
2015 fall survey: complete
Posted on: November 4, 2015
On October 26, WISeR released a 5 minute, 29 question survey and asked all research assistants, students, postdocs, research associates, and clinical scholars to take it. Within the week, 259 people responded, which is about 30% of all people emailed, including 95 dudes and 127 people who have never been to a WISeR event.
This is an amazing response! Thanks so much to everyone who took time to take the survey, and welcome to the 27 new members who joined WISeR since the survey began.
We are analyzing all of these data now, and are working with a group of members to create a list of suggestions for the administration and WISeR. Summary data are available on request for now, and will be released soon. Thanks again to everyone for taking the survey and making sure their co-workers took the survey as well!