How Medical Communicators Can Counteract Gender Bias in STEM

Did you know that 52% of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and medicine) fields report experiencing gender bias, while only 2% of men in STEM do?

My colleague, Priyanka Jadhav, and I recently wrote an article on how medical communicators can combat the gender bias in STEM, currently featured in AMWA Journal.

Matic AI, Jadhav P. AMWA J. 2018;33:152-156.

Of particular relevance to medical communications and medical writing, there are far fewer female authors, peer-reviewers, and journal editors in STEM fields than there are men. As these metrics are usually gateways to notoriety, funding, and career success, it is important to be aware of the discrepancies and to try to level the playing field when possible.

What can medical communicators do?

  • Realize how and where gender bias exists in the relevant fields
  • Make a concerted effort to search for and include more content from female scientists and healthcare providers
  • Pass it on – educate and mentor colleagues on the issue
  • Read our article for more detailed information

Please get in touch if you would like to talk more about this topic or make any related changes to your workflow.

Writing hacks – keep your summer writing on track

I am on twitter. I follow another account, @AcademicsSay. Recently, there was a post by @AcademicsSay ….

As of my writing, there are over 1,100 likes and 3,100 retweets on this post.

I read through the replies to the post and saw many academics commiserating with this statement.

This got me thinking… A lot of people struggle with making time for their writing.

Let’s get you back on track with your writing and make it a productive summer:

Continue reading Writing hacks – keep your summer writing on track

Learn about careers in Medical Writing

Versatile PhD: Careers in Medical Writing

Next week, I will be a panelist on the Versatile PhD forum for a discussion on “PhD Careers in Medical Writing”.

The discussion is free and open to all. I, and 3 other panelists, will answer any question about a career in medical writing.

The discussion will take place all week, between October 17 and 21, and anyone can drop by and participate during that time.

Find more information and join the discussion at Versatile PhD.

Please join us and ask away. I’m looking forward to the conversation.

How academia can increase the value of research articles

With all the money invested in obtaining research funding, universities should invest more in the end product of that research, namely the publications. That is the argument made by the authors of a recent paper on improving the medical research literature.

The authors identified 3 targets that could help universities improve the publications from their researchers: introducing publications officers into the academic environment, training researchers how to be authors, and training researchers how to be peer reviewers.
Continue reading How academia can increase the value of research articles

Peer review: who, why, and how

Cartoon depicting peer review as a series of physical beatings.

Whether you are a veteran researcher or just beginning your academic career, you are probably familiar with the concept of peer review. In an ideal world, peer reviewers would politely request changes and suggest changes that would significantly improve your publications. In reality, peer review can be rude and unproductive. Here are some suggestions to improve both sides of the peer review conversation.
Continue reading Peer review: who, why, and how

Could you be a PI?

Thinking about becoming a principal investigator of a research laboratory at a university? Want to know how you stack up against your PI colleagues? A research trio has published a new study that examines the relationship between several publication metrics and the likelihood of becoming a PI. They found that: Continue reading Could you be a PI?

“Publish that Paper” just released: Free e-course to improve your scientific publication record

Researcher performing work at a laptop computer.

Are you having a difficult time writing a scientific paper? Do you want to publish your manuscripts in more prestigious journals? You are not alone.

It is becoming harder to receive recognition for your manuscript (in the form of citations) when competing against the approximate 1.8 million articles published each year and growing at 3% per year. At some established journals, rejection rates are on the rise because of an increased number of submissions.

I’ve just released a free e-course, “Publish that Paper,” to help you polish your scientific manuscripts and boost your publication record.  You’ll learn tips and techniques that will help your papers get accepted quickly.  Editors will appreciate the improved results and colleagues will praise your clear data.

To become a world-class scientist today one must…be able to navigate the publishing process with skill and speed, as well as write with clarity, accuracy, and grace. Monica Bradford, Executive Editor, Science

Cartoon depicting peer review as a series of physical beatings.
Cartoon by Nick D Kim, Used by permission.

The content in these lessons is meant to be general enough to apply to manuscripts across all STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medicine) fields.

Publish that Paper” is a 14-part e-course that I developed to help scientists clearly communicate their research. At the end of the lessons, you will have amassed a list of resources and guidelines that you can refer back to as often as needed.

Tell me what you need to learn about scientific publication. What is the biggest thing you’re struggling with today? I’d love to hear from you.

Do you have questions about the e-course? Please email me and I will be happy to help out.

Help increase science funding

It is no surprise to any STEM researcher that grant funding from the US government has changed and, in some fields, has become increasingly difficult to obtain*.  Many researchers feel that the only solution in the current environment is to write more grants.  But that doesn’t change the finite amount of money allocated to spend on research.  One perspective, which was presented during a recent webinar, is that “the best way to increase the grant success rate is to increase the NIH and NSF budgets.”

The webinar, titled “How Federal Funding Affects your Science”, was presented by the Society of Neuroscience.  The speakers presented some enlightening information on the current and historical state of federal funding for STEM research (webinar slides).  There were several key messages that were emphasized.  First, members of the STEM community should interact with their legislators and convey the importance of funding STEM research at higher levels.

  • Write a letter or email
  • Participate in a visit to Capitol Hill
  • Host a laboratory visit by a lawmaker

Another key message was to educate STEM colleagues (faculty, students, industry partners) about advocating for increased STEM funding from the US government.  Insert a slide into your talks or organize a discussion around STEM funding.  Become involved in an organization that supports STEM advocacy.  The Society for Neuroscience has an advocacy arm and there are organizations that exist solely for STEM advocacy, such as Research!America.  Any small action is a positive one to raise awareness and keep the conversation going.

*Here are recent articles by NBC and The Huffington Post that discuss STEM funding.  NIH has posted its own analysis of how the recent federal budget sequestration has impacted research funding.  Many state and local governments, as well as individual institutions, have released public information about the impact of funding cuts to research.

Computer Science: Processing Natural Language, Women’s Involvement

Tenth graders studying computer modeling.

Last week, the Chicago chapter of Association for Women in Science (AWIS) hosted its annual Innovator and Motivator Awards dinner.  Dr. Barbara Di Eugenio and Dr. Lily Rin-Laures were awarded for their leading roles in research and mentoring.

Dr. Di Eugenio was honored for her research on natural language processing.  She is working to improve the way a computer “understands” the spoken and written language.  She gave a great example to illustrate the concept.  Let’s say we are sitting at a dinner table together and I ask “Can you pass the salt?” and, hopefully, you hand me the salt shaker.  What if I ask “Can you run a marathon?”  You (hopefully) wouldn’t get up from the table and go for a jog.  More than likely, you would tell me that you ran a marathon last year.  But, how do you get a computer to understand the difference that we all intuitively grasp?  That’s what Dr. Di Eugenio concentrates her research efforts towards.  She was also the focus of a recent news piece from her institution, the University of Illinois – Chicago.

A thought-provoking comment was made by Dr. Robert Sloan, who nominated Dr. Di Eugenio.  Dr. Sloan, who is the head of the computer science department at UIC, said that women are majoring in computer science at lower rates now than they were 20 years ago.  This comes as a big surprise, considering all of the national attention that has been given to enrolling and retaining women in STEM fields within the last 5-10 years.  Dr. Sloan noted that he hears from companies all over the US looking for computer science graduates.  Good job prospects for that career!  Spread the word.