BIRCWH Program Accepting Applications For Scholar Position

The BIRCWH Program is currently accepting applications for one scholar position to begin on April 1st, 2015.  Applications are due by February 13th, 2015.

Please visit our Scholar Application page if interested in applying and for more detailed information.


Moving Beyond “That” Feminist

By Veronica Arreola & Julienne Rutherford
From CRWG’s Fall 2014 Newsletter, Building Research Connections

Take a look at media reports of why women opt out of science and engineering careers and you will find a list of reasons such as personal choice, lack of LEGOs as a kid, and a desire for better work-family balance. However, one thing rarely on that list is sexual harassment. Over  the  summer,  former  BIRCWH  fellow  Julienne  Rutherford  and  her  colleagues,  Drs. Kathryn B. H. Clancy, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Robin Nelson, Skidmore College; and Katie Hinde, Harvard University, published a paper in PLoS ONE based on a survey  of  666  scientists  whose  work  requires  them  to  be  in  the  field,  and  found  an astounding two-thirds had experienced some form of sexual harassment, including 20% who were  assaulted . This shocking finding resulted in an avalanche of press hits ranging from The New York Times to Truthout, including:

The findings were not only quantitatively different between men and women respondents, but qualitatively different as well. The majority of men reported experiencing harassment from their peers, while the majority of women reported becoming the target of harassment and assault from their superiors in the field. – Candice Bernd in  Truthout, July 29, 2014

 

A major step in decreasing these occurrences is shifting cultural awareness. Campus assault doesn’t only happen in house parties or dorm rooms—it can also take place anywhere. The foremost goal is to communicate to predators not to sexually harass, assault and rape, but beyond that, a great course of action is to collectively push for straightforward sexual harassment policies in the workplace. – Claire Hannum at The Frisky, July 17, 2014

 

Psychologist Rebecca Campbell, who studies the effect of sexual harassment on communities, says that while all workplace harassment is harmful, it can be particularly  damaging  when  coming  from  a  superior.  She  also  says  these findings  should  be  incorporated  into  the  broader  discussion  about  campus sexual harassment and violence. – Kara Manke at NPR.org, July 17, 2014

 

Whether harassment or discrimination takes place at a field site in Costa Rica or in a conference room, the problem will not be solved with new rules archived on unread websites. The responsibility for pushing back should not rest solely with the victims. Solutions require a change of culture that can happen only from within. – Christie  Aschwanden  in  The  New  York  Times,  Aug  11,  2014

So far on Twitter, the combined reach of the paper has approached 2 million users, and the paper has been viewed on the PLoS ONE website nearly 48,000 times. California Rep. Jackie Spearer cited the study extensively in her letter to the American Association for the Advancement    of    Science   (AAAS)  [PDF LINK]  about its use of sexualized and dehumanized images of transsexual sex workers on the cover of Science. The Twitter hashtag, #Safe13, is being used to connect women and men concerned about sexual harassment and assault in the sciences. It has become one of the more prominent emblems of gender equity on Twitter. Clearly this issue is of great importance to people outside of academia. Alas, while some academic media outlets have run op-eds that cite the report, none have reported on the survey itself.

Dr. Rutherford thinks few academic outlets are reporting on the survey because academics themselves are still processing the results. We reflected on the issue of romance in the lab, and professors dating students. During our training as students, we both knew of fellow students who dated professors. How much consent can any student give to a professor in their field, especially given how small subfields can get, and how a bad breakup can have an impact  on  professional  standing?  Dr.  Rutherford  said  she  was  spending  a  lot  of  time reflecting on her own experience as a student, and felt that others are doing the same, as Aschwanden suggested in her New York Times essay. Not to excuse any of the harassment or assaults reported, but when one is in a system where these behaviors are tolerated, or willfully ignored, it may be difficult to read survey results that suggest one’s  tolerance of past behavior may have harmed another person’s life, much less their career.

Where the paper has made an academic splash is at conferences and at the department- head  level.  Rutherford  and  colleagues  wanted  it to  get out to  fellow  scientists  to start changing the culture of doing science. But the response was beyond anything they imagined. They didn’t expect it to be so rapidly incorporated into lab meetings and syllabi. They didn’t expect it to so quickly make it into the hands of department heads, deans, chancellors, and program officers. Dr. Rutherford and her three co-authors have spent a lot of time on the phone and Skype in a daze, and sometimes in tears, since the paper came out, because the data have resonated so strongly with so many people—because people have written them, called them, and walked up to them in meetings to thank them for this work.

Rutherford was recently at a conference that brought together young scientists from many disparate disciplines. The subject of the paper organically came up in a number of conversations and it was an incredible experience to note the part she played, and then personally engage with men and women she hadn’t known before, about how they wanted to help make the change. One woman told her that being able to hold the paper up at meetings in support of the arguments she’s been making at her institution has allowed her to move beyond being “that feminist,” because it’s not easy to ignore solid evidence of the problem. Empowering others to transcend institutional barriers has been so far the most rewarding, exciting, and humbling experience in her career.

Another place of change is with those charged with administering field sites.  In light of the paper, Rutherford knows some colleagues who have drafted their own field-site-specific policies of conduct and reporting mechanisms, and think that idea is catching on. The study findings suggest that principal investigators, site managers, course directors, and advisors have  a  lot  of  agency  to  make  actionable  changes,  and  we  are  seeing  that  happen. Rutherford thinks that change at the level of the professional society will come, but it will be somewhat slower. After the preliminary data were presented at the American Association of Physical Anthropologists meeting in April 2013, the American Anthropological Association issued its “zero tolerance” stance on sexual harassment and assault. We know of other professional associations that have circulated the paper and have been holding internal discussions, and there are some ethics committees within associations that have been rethinking their policies. Some professional conferences already have sexual harassment policies for the duration of their meetings. Rutherford and her colleagues think this is really important  and  want  to  see  more  of  that,  as  it  reinforces  that  these  places  are  still workplaces, and as such, all members of the workforce are entitled to safety and dignity.

So  what  is  next  for  this  group  of  women  who  are  opening  up  conversations  about harassment in the sciences? They are working on a second paper analyzing dozens of detailed follow-up phone interviews of a subset of their survey respondents. They are conducting thematic analysis to determine characteristics of respondents who indicated they were targets and characteristics of the sites where they were targeted. This deep contextualizing  of  the  phenomenon  will  point  the  way  to  more  ways  the  culture  of harassment and disenfranchisement of our most vulnerable scientists can be changed for trainees at the earliest stages of their careers. Both targets and bystanders suffer from these environments and Rutherford and her colleagues hope to present a cogent analysis of the emotional and professional consequences. Rutherford and colleagues are also hearing from other researchers from numerous fields who are launching their own studies. All four coauthors have advised colleagues who are moving forward with this kind of work.

Sexual harassment and assault are issues that are far too often whispered about or discussed in ways to avoid the instigator (e.g., “Don’t be alone with him!”). Dr. Rutherford and her colleagues collected those whispers and painted a picture that appears bleak. But from that bleak reality is a growing conversation that is long overdue and creating positive outcomes. The more light we shine throughout the sciences, the better we can make the work and social environment, and the better and more innovative we can make scientific endeavors.

Read more about what the UIC Center for Research on Women and Gender is working on in our Fall 2014 newsletter in PDF format.

Contribute to the CRWG to support more groundbreaking work on gender issues.


Girls Who Code Update

WISE launched a Girls Who Code club in October and now we present a short update from our club’s historian, Sydney C.

This year in Girls Who Code we were basically covering coding from learning how to make a square to art and now video games. This week the group learned to make video games. It was hard to make the programs because you had to be precise on making one section at a time. The computer only responds to the program we give it so that was the hardest part but overall the staff and student ambassadors were helpful, gave you tips into creating a programs, and they were generous to help and support us students into this program so I thank you all. :­) :­) :­)

We made a short video of some of the girls’ projects during week three. Enjoy!


CRWG Position Available: Visiting Senior Research Specialist

Visiting Senior Research Specialist – Center for Research on Women and Gender

The UIC Center of Research on Women and Gender (CRWG) is seeking qualified candidates for the position of Visiting Senior Research Specialist.  The individual selected for this position will contribute to the development and implementation of research and evaluation activities at Center.   The candidate must have experience with grant writing and dissemination of research related to women’s health.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Conceptualize, initiate and develop proposals for research and evaluation projects, both independently and by assisting other scholars, including collaboration and coordination with one or more investigators.
  • Write and assist in writing grant proposals to funding agencies: assemble documentation, secure necessary university authorizations, and author, co-author and/or edit grant proposals.
  • Develop protocols and monitor the execution of research and evaluation projects, including implementation of data collection, data analysis, and assisting with reporting requirements.
  • Disseminate research results through publications and presentations.
  • Provide expertise around quantitative and qualitative research and program evaluation within the department and with collaborating partners.
  • Make recommendations for women’s health research areas that should be investigated.
  • Other duties as assigned by the CRWG Director.

 

Qualifications:

  • Candidates for this position must have a doctoral degree (PhD or equivalent) in public health or a related field and at least five years of research/evaluation experience. Research related to women’s health or sex/gender-based differences in health required.
  • Candidates must be knowledgeable about current developments and research findings in rapidly-changing health science disciplines; able to evaluate their potential applicability to research and service program; and able to adapt them for use in execution of new research.
  • Candidates must have experience with grant writing and dissemination of research through publications and presentations.
  • Candidates must demonstrate high-level skills in data analysis, quantitative and qualitative research methodology and evaluation.
  • Candidates must have excellent writing skills.
  • Candidates must be able to work with researchers from many fields, and in a multidisciplinary, multicultural context. Candidates must also be comfortable working with community groups and community agencies.
  • Previous experience leading evaluation or research projects, and experience supervising project staff, including undergraduate and graduate students, strongly preferred.

 

This is a full time position. The position will begin on February 16, 2015. For fullest consideration, submit a cover letter, CV, and names and addresses of three references, by December 26, 2014. Please apply through the following link: https://jobs.uic.edu/job-board/job-details?jobID=47012&job=visiting-senior-research-specialist-crwg

The University of Illinois at Chicago is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action employer. Minorities, women, veterans and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply.


Fall 2014 CRWG Newsletter Now Available

The Fall 2014 edition of the CRWG Newsletter, Building Research Connections, is now available. Check it out here: Building Research Connections Fall 2014.


BIRCWH Scholar Kirstie Danielson’s NIH presentation available online

BIRCWH scholar Kirstie Danielson’s NIH presentation can be viewed here.  Her talk begins approximately 4 hours and 15 minutes into the video.


Status of Women in the Geosciences

Ioana StefanescuFriend of WISE, Dr. Roy Plotnick, WISE student, Ionana Steanescu (pictured at left) and Dr. Alycia L. Stigall of Ohio University (whose lab alumni include former WISE Chic President Jennifer Bauer), have published a paper on the status of women in the geosciences by examining who has been presenting at the North American Paleontological Convention (NAPC). NAPC is held every four to five years and is the one conference where all the different flavors of geoscience gather together.

What they found is that participation of women has increased over the years and that this increase is due to collaboration. Women’s increase in presenting at the meeting is not reducing men’s participation as 90% of the abstracts included a male name. This does mean that women were more likely to be part of a group of presenters than to be solo authors. The other finding of note is that the increase in women’s representation appears to be attributable to an increase in student authorship.

While the news is good in the geosciences in terms of women’s participation in this specific and important meeting, the authors do note that there is still a lack of women in leadership positions and being keynote speakers. This speaks to one aspect of WISE’s work. While we want to see the number of women go up in STEM, we also want to see women’s role in leading their respective fields go up as well.

Evolution of paleontology: Long-term gender trends in an earth-science discipline
Roy E. Plotnick, Alycia L. Stigall, Ioana Stefanescu


CRWG Partners with Mujeres Latinas en Accion on Economic Security Report

Mujeres1

The Center for Research on Women and Gender partnered with Mujeres Latinas en Accion, the longest-standing Latina organization in the country, on their latest “Latina Portrait” annual policy report. This year’s report focused on economic security. CRWG Assistant Director Veronica Arreola wrote the introduction to the report and attended the report release press conference in September.

Mujeres2

The study found that Latin@s* are overrepresented in Chicago’s low-wage workforce. While they make up 26% of the city’s population, 42% of low-wage workers are Latin@. Undocumented Latin@s are most at risk for living in poverty. Due to their status, undocumented Latinas often must choose undesirable low-wage work or informal work in which they cannot fight for better pay or working conditions due to threat of being fired or deported. These low-wage industries also often expose Latinas to exploitation from supervisors. Undocumented Latin American women are at an increased risk of experiencing wage theft or being paid less than minimum wage, as well as sexual violence. This situation has local implications, as women comprise nearly half of the undocumented population in Illinois.

The impact of low-wage work on Latinas is exemplified by the monthly cost of childcare in Illinois, which can total $1,469, while a full-time minimum wage earner will make just $1,430 a month. The high cost of child care may keep Latinas in low-wage work because it limits the type of work they can do, in attempt to minimize childcare costs.

The “Latina Portrait” did not just paint a bleak state of affairs. It ends with a number of policy recommendations including raising the minimum wage, establishing earned sick-time, and creating a domestic workers bill of rights. Recommendations for action are detailed for allies who work in local government, labor and service organizations, and academia.

To read the full report, visit Mujeres Latinas en Accion and click on “Latina Portrait: Latinas and Economic Security.”

*Using Latin@ instead of “Latino” recognizes both Latinos and Latinas. For this Latina Portrait, Latin@ was used to differentiate between Latin@s of all genders and when just talking about Latina women.


CRWG Collaborates on Needs Assessment to Prevent Maternal Mortality in Tanzania

CRWG director Stacie Geller and collaborator Crystal Patil, associate professor of medical anthropology in the College of Nursing, are recipients of the inaugural Global Health and Wellbeing Seed Grant Program, established by the Chancellor’s Global Excellence Task Force and the College of Medicine’s Center for Global Health. The seed grant program was created to support projects that improve the lives of people around the world. The program provided start-up funding for three multidisciplinary research projects, to assist researchers in seeking external funding in the future.

Drs. Patil and Geller will work together to conduct a needs assessment in urban Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, with a focus on reducing maternal mortality. Based on the needs assessment, they will adapt a continuum-of-care approach for city residents. The continuum of care approach has successfully reduced maternal deaths from postpartum hemorrhage in rural areas of the developing world. The goal of the research is to identify factors that put urban women at risk of dying from postpartum bleeding.

For more information, visit: http://news.uic.edu/seed-grants-foster-research-projects-in-global-health#sthash.LDbcKNJm.dpuf


BIRCWH Seminar featuring Dr. Pauline Maki on November 18th, 2014

Dr. Pauline Maki will present the BIRCWH Seminar titled “Sex Differences in Alzheimer’s Disease” on November 18th.  The seminar will be held in the College of Medicine Research Building in Room 2175 at 11:00 AM.  The seminar will last approximately one hour and no RSVP is necessary.