Tech transfer companies have an interest in involving more women across their activity. But, if that’s the case, the same is true—even truer, surely—for the rest of us. Society has witnessed some major, life-saving improvements that only became possible when women were involved in science at the top levels of leadership. It was then that we began to see the importance of gender in research, explains Sue Rosser.
Credits: Motion gears - team force by ralphbijker on Flickr
Case in point: Clinical trials of cardiovascular research were once conducted only on men. This had life-or-death consequences for women, whose symptoms were not recognized when they arrived at the emergency room. Procedures like bypasses and angioplasties, approved for use with the public, initially had much higher death rates among women. It was eventually understood that, because the surgical norms were established on men, and men have larger blood vessels, the operations were not at all adapted to female patients. Indeed, they were killing them.
Luckily, this oversight was caught, when someone in a position to effect change considered the possible impact of gender differences, but what else are we missing? And where does this leave us? Such problems—and there are abundant examples—“can only be overcome with as much diversity as possible,” Dr. Rosser says. A variety of viewpoints need to be present and heard on the decision-making level. Today, a little more than a quarter of college presidents are women. (In the Ivy League, it’s a full half.) The University of California system has only two women chancellors among ten.
Sue Rosser closed her recent talk for the Stanford branch of WISE (Women in Science and Engineering), with a useful reminder that will serve all researchers: A scientist’s skills translate to those needed for institutional leadership.
- - Managing budgets
- - Managing people
- - Managing projects
- - Managing facilities and equipment
- - Obtaining funding
- - Following national and state trends in government and industry to obtain funding
- - Collaborating with others inside and outside the university
- - Completing projects on time
- - Moving back and forth among sectors