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It’s not just in STEM: Sexism outside of work holds scientists back

Sexism in STEM is rampant; you don’t need me to tell you that. From 113 pages of sexual assault/harassment allegations (U of R, 2017) to the Google engineer memo (also 2017), there are dozens of examples each year of sexism inside STEM environments. But it isn’t just the sexism that women experience in their fields – at conferences, in the office/lab, etc. – that makes it harder for women to succeed in STEM. Misogyny and sexism outside of the workplace can also negatively impact women’s performance at work, and thus the progress of their career and their science. How do two things, seemingly happening in different spheres, overlap?

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Professional Responsibility in Research Science (and the lack thereof)!

The job of a scientist is immensely rewarding – but also technically challenging, and often riddled with administrative and institutional red tape. Learning how to navigate these challenges is critical for mastering the practice of science and advancing early career scientists (students, interns, post-docs, etc). The role of good mentors can set the stage for success. However, there is little discussion about the damage that can be wrought by a bad mentor.

Problems of scientific publishing – Is it scientists vs. journals? 

I clearly remember the moment when my first paper was published – oh, how proud I was. Finally, I felt like a proper scientist! When I told my (non-academic) family about it, one of the first things they asked was Great, so finally you get something out of your work! How much did they pay you for it? My answer, actually a little bit embarrassed: Uhm, nothing. But I did not have to pay THEM for publishing it, so that´s great! They did not get it. Why should they?

The paper review, or: emotional rollercoaster, here I come!

You handed in your first paper a while ago, and now you are waiting on the journal’s response. You are annoyed with them taking so long to finish their review, but on the other hand, you are getting really nervous every time you open your e-mails because they might have answered you?

Maybe your first paper was already rejected, or you had it accepted with major revision, and now you are absolutely terrified and have the impression that you might be incapable of being a proper scientist?

It´s not just you!