“The fairness issue is appalling, but the loss of brain power is really what we can’t afford to have here,” Congresswoman Louise Slaughter told the media on Monday.
Congresswoman Slaughter requested a study by the Government Accountability Office back in 2013 to look at gender bias in STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics) research. The study found that less women are applying for research grants, and women are receiving less money towards STEM research. And many say this study only scratches the surface of the issue.
Kate Cerulli, an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at University of Rochester says, “We see it in med school faculties, we see it certainly in the STEM faculties with 25% of tenure track faculty being women. So this report, hopefully will start a very important dialogue.”
“We can’t afford to misuse, or do away with, half the brain power in the United States because it is a gender issue. We’ve got to get so far beyond that. We are falling so far behind internationally in so many fields, science being one of them,” Rep. Slaughter adds.
The study found the NIH and DOD have failed to conduct Title XI compliance reviews of the Universities they fund, to make sure gender bias is addressed in their research programs. But there is some hope that this study will start the conversation and benefit women in the sciences.
Scott Franklin a professor of physics at Rochester Institute of Technology says, “It’s having an impact. I will say that one of the more hopeful things that I’ve seen is that the new generation of women entering into the STEM disciplines have a much different attitude. They’re much more aware of the biases and the offenses that are given to them, and they’re much less willing to take this.”
With the University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology and the growing photonics industry all in our area, Congresswoman Slaughter says it’s time that this community focus on the gender bias issue.