Four diverse female neuroscientists from a variety of backgrounds, institutions, and career stages share how women can succeed in their careers and tell the stories behind how they’ve built their own.
You’ll hear strategies for dealing with major obstacles, including lack of encouragement, stereotypes about scientists, discomfort with competitive environments, marginalization within organizations, implicit and explicit bias, and childcare.
Additionally, they recount their scientific training, detail their research interests, and note some of the discoveries that have come out of their labs. They also reflect on how leadership and mentoring have helped them refine their career goals and support others. Importantly, they share some of their interests outside of the lab and how they find work-life balance, including how they pursue dynamic careers and find time to devote to their families.
Listen to their stories above and read these excerpts for a look into their lives and how they support other female scientists.
What she studies: the cellular mechanisms that establish sex differences in the brain.
How she advanced in academia: “A lot of people helped me, and now I'm in the position to help others. I started as an assistant professor and then became an associate professor, graduate program director, assistant dean, and associate dean. Now I'm chair. One of my real missions as chair is to help other women climb that ladder.”
What she studies: how physical activity changes the brain to improve mood, long-term memory, attention, and creativity.
How she applied her research skills to become an entrepreneur: “I switched from the study of neurophysiology of memory to studying the transformative effects of exercise. Now I’m establishing a startup company to do behavioral analysis on the effects of exercise across different age groups. The goal is not to leave science but to take advantage of opportunities to enrich my science.”
What she studies: the role of steroids in the expression of sex differences in the brain.
How mentoring has impacted her career: “I've mentored people from all stages of their careers, from administration to high school students. I've really enjoyed it because I’ve learned something from every mentee I've ever had.”
What she studies: nervous system development in the model C. elegans.
How she supports the next generation: “Every day, I can make a big difference for my students, especially when you think about education as a real force in promoting equality. I've been involved in the summer research program, primarily for underrepresented students, at San Jose State University. In the last couple of years, I’ve also gotten involved with helping women gain computer science skills. Biology majors can almost double their chances of getting a job after graduation by getting programming and advanced data analysis skills. We've even developed a minor and an MS in bioinformatics.”
*This event was moderated by Melissa Harrington, associate vice-president for research at Delaware State University.