NIH$$ for Girls < NIH$$ for Boys

In a recent post that I was motivated to write after an article appeared in Science regarding the proportion of women in all ranks from training period on up to senior faculty, and the rates of NIH funding for women versus men… commenter JC kindly provided a link to a report of an NSF sponsored study done by the Rand Science and Technology Policy Institute (covers years 2001-2003, I couldn’t find more recent ##s after an (admittedly) cursory look)- entitled ‘Gender Differences in Major Federal External Grant Programs’ authored by Hosek et al. in 2005.  Buried under that review article that I was writing, I didn’t actually get a chance to look at anything beyond table 3.4 in that report from just last night. I’ll just quote directly from the ‘Key Findings’ section: Continue reading

Don’t ‘try’ to be anything- just be yourself.

I was going to post about something else today- but this post by Sheril over at The Intersection came into my reader this morning. It’s not glamorous, it’s not flashy- but it’s a truth, and one worth listening to and taking to heart.

Science is after all, a very creative process so you’ll stand out from the pack by being your-one-in-seven-billion-self. And remember it’s okay to express the many dimensions of your personality from serious scientist to rock star drummer and back again. Because it’s boring to subscribe to anyone’s notion of what it means to be whatever it is you aspire to be in the same way it’s boring to be another cog in the wheel. Throw some sand in the gears and shake things up when appropriate. We rarely remember those who play by every rule, so take the road less traveled and see where it leads.

In other words, don’t try to be a “woman in science.” Be yourself. And shine.

It made me smile, and nothing I could imagine writing could improve on it. Go on over there and read!

On Hiring.

Over at YoungFemaleScientist, MsPhD has a brief survey up for those of us in the biomedical sciences that either make or participate in hiring decisions for faculty (I can only presume that she meant faculty). The opening question is this:

Which single criterion is most important for making the first cut?

And the options are:

  • Name of Postdoc’s PI
  • Institution of Postdoc’s PI
  • Minimum number of papers (regardless of journal)
  • Minimum one high impact paper
  • Other (please explain)

Wow. Thinking about my own experiences in this area I can honestly say it’s not so simple for me. Allow me to explain.

First, let’s define the ‘first cut’. When I have a big stack of applications on my desk, I have to have an efficient way to go through them and figure out which applicants in that pile are competitive for the open position. This makes the first cut divide the non-competitive applications from those that are competitive- even moderately so. Continue reading

Veterinary School vs. Graduate School

Reader Eugenie mentioned on a comment to one of my posts that she was interested in perhaps attending veterinary school or graduate school  (?or both?) after she finishes her undergraduate work.  I’ve got a little experience in this area, having attended professional school and graduate school, so I thought I might share my experience in a little compare and contrast.

At the most very basic level, what you have to achieve in veterinary school and in graduate school are the same. You need to learn to look at evidence, often from disparate sources, you have to learn to ask the right questions, you have to learn how to integrate all the information that comes at you, and then know how to formulate a list of possibilities and to follow up on those to find the answer to the puzzle. Then- you have to take the next step-which differs depending on whether you are treating a pet or planning the next experiment to address your next hypothesis. I found the training process- in veterinary school versus professional school to be very different Continue reading

1st Annual BLC Christmas Letter

I’ve never written one of these (shocking, I know)- but for today’s post I thought I would follow the grotesque time honored tradition of the Christmas letter.

What made me think of this? Last night I received such a letter from my Uncle whom I adore and who is undoubtedly the finest writer of the irreverent Christmas letter that there is on this earth- and he inspired me to give it a go. I’m fairly certain that I can’t live up to my Uncle’s pristine example, but I’ll offer you my own pathetic first attempt at the genre anyway. Usually I send cards and pictures- each with a somewhat lengthy personalized handwritten note… but I’d have a tough time doing this for the readership of this blog… so here goes:  … *cough* (Damn this is hard.) *cough*

Dear BLC Readers:

This year has been a wild ride for me and my lab. We started the year as 8, and have cut Continue reading

Is it UNFAIR to have women’s faculty groups?

Yesterday I wrote a rather lengthy post about a women’s faculty group that I have started at my institution. While I strongly believe that this is a very important support and mentoring group to have in place for mentoring, retaining, and promoting women faculty, who as a minority have some unique issues in academia, I have come to realize that having such groups may be more controversial than you might at first imagine.  After all, in my observations and conversations with various faculty- here on the blog and in real life- it seems like organized junior faculty mentoring in general is: A. very passive, and B. pretty pathetic across the board (I’m protected from this in my department through some active efforts, thankfully).  And hey- in general- men in academia might benefit from some mentoring as well- so, why should women faculty be singled out for special treatment??? Continue reading

Women’s Faculty Group rises from the dust…

A few months ago, in a fit of frustration over something un-bloggable that was going on at work, I cornered the Dean of my institution in the hallway and asked if he/she might support the formation of a Women’s Faculty Group.  I posted about this briefly at the time I made the original request- and as some of you may remember- the Dean was quite enthusiastic about the whole concept, he/she threw money and administrative support at me for the effort- and further promised to support anything and everything I might wish for in this regard. I also had the blessing of my chair in this effort- which, I didn’t really ask for until after all the plans had been laid.

I thought I would use a post to update you on how this little exploratory effort has been progressing. I made the original request to the Dean to do this back in the spring.  Continue reading

LIttleA smokes out Santa impersonators….

LittleA had a sing-along at school last week, and a special guest was in attendance. Since I was unable to attend the sing-along (I attended the 1st grade holiday party earlier that day), DrMrA attended the sing-along as the parental unit on duty. This evening at dinner he was prompting LittleA to tell me about the special guest… you know, the one wearing the red suit with the beard..

LittleA:  That was Santa!

Me: Oh, wow!

LittleA:  But he was not the REAL Santa. Continue reading

I’ve got a graduate education… OF COURSE.. I can handle this baby…

I received the following note this morning:

Dear DrDrA,

I never got the chance to thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me through one of the toughest times in my life. No one ever told me that life after pregnancy could be so hard. But your phone calls and encouraging words after VERYcutebaby was born meant more to me than you could possibly know. I found comfort in knowing that someone knew what I was going through and that I didn’t have to pretend everything was sweet and rosy. Thank you so much for reaching out to me when I needed it the most (even though I didn’t know I did). etc etc.


I was in tears. Obviously. Sometimes we don’t realize our own ability to touch the life of another person. Watching this talented person struggle with handling everything with ease one day, then giving birth Continue reading

Will you get 12 pages, or … 18??

I came across this article in Nature this morning entitled ‘Rule change for human grants sparks spat at NIH’ (9 December 2008 | 456, 682-683 (2008). I know some of you don’t have access- so I’ll just quote:

‘The proposed change, presented on 5 December at a meeting of the NIH director’s advisory committee, goes back on a suggestion made this spring by a panel overhauling the agency’s peer-review system (see Nature 453, 835; 2008). The panel said then that it would cut all applications for major investigator-initiated grants — R01 applications — from the current 25 pages to 12, in an effort to streamline the system.

But at the advisory meeting, NIH acting deputy director Lawrence Tabak showed a slide declaring that “for R01 applications involving human subjects research, an additional 6 pages will be available for the research strategy section“.’

My first reaction: HUH?? Continue reading