By Dr. Ellie Corigliano
Allow me to paint a picture of the current situation in the scientific community today.
Programs encouraging women to stay in science are popping up everywhere in ways of funding.
While I was in grad school women would talk about the right time to have children. Many women spoke of how that had to wait until grad school was over. By the end of the conversation the conclusion was to wait until they were tenured! Women just don’t have that biological leisure to wait until their tenured (recall - in their 40’s).
As scientists we don’t often make great demands, or disagree with the timelines of career development, or challenge the administration for better working conditions. In fact, most students enter grad school straight out of college eager to start research and follow the rules that have been outlined. However, mid-way through students begin to find discord with their environment and end up feeling powerless, and voiceless. While the complaints are there, no one wants to stick their neck out to initiate change.
At the forefront of change the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard University are now offering five-year term fellowships to newly graduated Ph.D.’s in science, where you are given a salary that is double most postdoctoral salaries and monies to conduct independent research along with additional money to hire a postdoctoral candidate and use housed technological services. This type of position bypasses the 7 year postdoctoral term and places you in a “pseudo-assistant professorship” with the possibility of being hired in a more permanent position. They are highly encouraging women to apply for these positions! These top two Universities are the trend-setters and their initiative for change should be applauded!