Women in Science: Research and Reflections

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A special focus issue of the AVS journal "Biointerphases" spotlights the research of 15 women at the forefront of biomaterial and biointerface science and highlights their advice to others.

From the Journal: 

WASHINGTON, D.C., DECEMBER 7, 2018 -- A special issue of the interdisciplinary AVS journal Biointerphases, from AIP Publishing, appears this week online and focuses on the research results and reflections of a group of women at the forefront of biomaterials and biological interface research whose studies aim to improve human health through discovering basic, quantitative knowledge of the molecular world. 

The special In Focus issue is called "Women in Biointerface Science," and it contains original research by 14 female principal investigators (plus one contributing author) at various stages of their careers. The issue also features a long editorial showcasing the careers of these women. They relate their experiences in their own words, dispense career advice to others and share reflections on how they got to where they are now. 

Aiming to inspire the next generation of women entering the field, the special issue was the brainchild of the journal's editors Anna Belu, Katharina Maniura and Sally McArthur. By pulling together this collection, they sought not only to showcase great science but also to collect in one place many of the female leaders in their fields -- enabling others to identify speakers for conferences, find research grant partners or seek out doctoral supervisors. The collection is available online at https://avs.scitation.org/toc/bip/13/6

"We knew that many of the women had very different approaches to their work and also had very different experiences on how they had built their careers or were building them," said McArthur, who is the editor in chief of Biointerphases and a professor of biomedical engineering at Swinburne University of Technology and Science Leader at CSIRO in Australia. "We wanted to take the opportunity to highlight that work and particularly the different ways these women were inspired and undertook their research." 

She added that the In Focus issue will be an ongoing collection to which women across the globe will continue to be invited to contribute. 

Still a Long Way to Go 

More women are getting a seat at the table, but there is still a long way to go, McArthur said. 

While the percentage of bachelor's degrees and doctorates in engineering and physics granted to women has increased in the last four decades, women are still a slim minority of graduates in those fields. Some 80 percent of undergraduate diplomas and more than three-quarters of all doctorates in these fields still go to men, according to the AIP's Statistical Research Center. See https://www.aip.org/statistics/women

"Things are changing, but all too slowly," McArthur said. 

Even in fields like biology, where more than half of all doctorates granted today go to women, there is a significant drop-off in women taking tenure-track positions and progressing to full professor or leadership roles in industry. Unconscious and conscious biases exist in recruitment and promotion systems, and there are major differences in salary and other rewards between men and women, McArthur said. 

McArthur said scientific societies and the journals they publish, like AVS and Biointerphases, can play a key role addressing these issues by focusing on diversity. She added that much more needs to be done to ensure that women of color and women with disabilities are also included. 

"Societies like AVS are key links in our global science communities," she said. "We can set the tone and expectations for our communities, build the networks to be inclusive and ensure that all voices can be heard and supported to succeed." 

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About the journal: 

Biointerphases

Biointerphases emphasizes quantitative characterization of biomaterials and biological interfaces. As an interdisciplinary journal, a strong foundation of chemistry, physics, biology, engineering, theory, and/or modelling is incorporated into originated articles, reviews, and opinionated essays