She Earned It: Claiming Your Degree New Push for #ImmodestWomen
Beyond the Imposter Syndrome – and perhaps a sidebar to it— is a new social media push calling out for women to declare their doctoral degrees and use the title they earned. The trending #ImmodestWomen and #ImmodestWoman are gathering steam with tens of thousands of retweets and comments.“Mansplaining is firmly rooted in the modern sexism lexicon. But as the #immodestwomen trend shows, the world of gender and qualifications goes beyond this: it is not simply that some men who have no knowledge of a subject assume they do, it is that women who actually do have the expertise are told they must act as if they do not,” Frances Ryan writes in The Guardian.[bctt tweet=“A new push for women in science to claim their degrees is #ImmodestWomen.” username=“takeleadwomen”]“Tellingly, there is now even a parody account created to mock Dr. Riddell, as if to warn other women to ‘know your place.’ Be it a PhD or any skill, there’s something quite satisfying about stopping this downplaying of our talents and hard work – to refuse to conform to the inoffensive and subordinate box some men would still put us in. #Immodestwomen are breaking out,” Ryan writes.This backlash comes at a time when new research and evidence documents discrimination and harassment against women in science.A new report in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine “describes pervasive and damaging gender harassment—behaviors that belittle women and make them feel they don’t belong, including sexist comments and demeaning jokes. Between 17 percent and 50 percent of female science and medical students reported this kind of harassment in large surveys conducted by two major university systems across 36 campuses,” Meredith Wadman writes in Science Magazine,“We are trying to bring to the fore the concept of gender harassment,” anthropologist Kate Clancy of the University of Illinois in Urbana, an author of the report told Wadman. “The vast majority of sexual harassment that occurs is sexist hostility and crude behavior. And the literature supports that these everyday experiences may have as bad or worse personal and professional consequences as things like unwanted sexual advances.”Related to the need to reach gender parity and equity of treatment for women in science, is the need to reach gender parity in healthcare leadership. Recently 50 Women Can Change the World in Healthcare Leadership Program launched at the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, led by Lisa Mead, Take The Lead leadership ambassador and founder of Arizona Women in Healthcare, a networking group that focuses on promoting, recognizing, inspiring and developing women in all sectors of the healthcare industry.[bctt tweet=“Related to the need to reach #genderparity and equity of treatment for women in science, is the need to reach gender parity in healthcare leadership.” username=“takeleadwomen”]“The program’s curriculum directly addresses women’s ambivalent relationship with power, dealing with internal as well as external barriers, and changing the equation from the outdated ‘power OVER’ to a more current, collaborative and creative ‘power TO’—an approach much better suited to the very women’s leadership styles that are bringing higher profits to businesses,” says Gloria Feldt, co-founder and president of Take The Lead.The inequities for women in science is a global issue, writes University of Queensland’s Dominique Potvin in The Conversation. “Published research from my colleagues and I shows that globally, women make up about 33 percent of zoological society boards, and about 25 percent of executive positions (presidents, vice presidents, treasurers and secretaries). “Potvin writes, “While still short of equality, this represents a trend in the right direction. And we can take some lessons from some of the finer points of our analysis to address gender equity in science leadership more broadly. To that end, we’ve created a Gender Equality Checklist for scientists to apply in their own professional operations.”These include: “Outline a mission statement in your constitution or on your website regarding inclusion, diversity and/or anti-discrimination; have written and enforceable grievance policies and procedures for harassment; commit to blind objective reviewing for conference papers, grants, scholarships and awards.”According to Potvin, “Scientific societies may, at first glance, appear to play a small role in the life of an academic: we pay our membership fees, attend a conference or two, and encourage our students to apply for small societal grants. However, the role of the scientific society in the pursuit of gender equality in science and related fields is likely bigger than we have previously thought (if we have thought about it at all). The seemingly sluggish rate of improvement for women in science can tend to inspire hopelessness. This is symptomatic of institutional culture, with staff turnovers and bureaucracy in general being slow processes, some taking decades to visibly change.”There is hope, Potvin writes. “The young membership, frequency of elections and more relaxed networks that used to contribute to a reputation of an “old boys’ club” feel of societies may now be positive influences on female promotion.”Networking groups offer support to women scientists, including 500 Women Scientists formed in 2016, Anne Stych writes in BizJournals. The group “compiled a list of examples of bias and harassment that its members have experienced during their careers.”Stych writes that these include, “Being told that women make better graduate students because their handwriting is easier to read and they are more organized and tidy. Being excluded from outside-of work activities where work — casual science chatter, papers, and proposals — is inevitably discussed. Being chastised to respect the opinions of older male scientists when confronting their incorrect criticism. Getting a teleconference call to give a talk and having the moderator say “Oh, you’re a woman. I guess we can work with that.”In public thought leadership women find it more difficult to establish credentials and to be recognized in public forums. Marina Joubert, Science Communication Researcher at Stellenbosch Universitywrites in the Mail & Guardian that “researchers have shown that public engagement could hinder female scientists’ academic progress.”[bctt tweet=“Here is an immodest proposal for #ImmodestWomen: Claim your degree, your title, your experience, your expertise. And support every #ImmodestWoman you encounter.” username=“takeleadwomen”]Joubert asks, “So whose role is it to improve the visibility of scientists who are not white men? For instance, universities can promote women and black scientists to the media by featuring them in press releases and ensuring they appear in online expert lists. Young, black women in science can also gain visibility via popular science events such as Pint of Science and Famelab. It is also up to women scientists to become proactive users of social media.”Here is an immodest proposal for #ImmodestWomen: Claim your degree, your title, your experience, your expertise. And support every #ImmodestWoman you encounter.