Congressional Briefing on Issues Affecting Women in Science

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | September 9, 2010 11:39 am

As I announced last week, I’ll be moderating a Congressional briefing co-organized by Discover Magazine and L’Oréal USA on Women in Science. Here’s a glimpse at the press release out today:

L’Oréal USA Convenes Congressional Briefing on Issues Affecting Women in Science

New Research Reveals Gender-Based Barriers Driving Female Scientists from the Field

Congressional briefing explores the issues and opportunities

The congressional briefing, For Women in Science: 21st Century Policy & Politics, sponsored by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, will be held on Sept. 23, 2010, in Washington, D.C. A panel of distinguished experts will explore whether state and federal public policy are promoting or hindering the advancement of female scientists; how the broader application of Title IX has influenced women pursuing science education and careers; and whether the emphasis on gender diversity in the workplace has become mainstream in scientific disciplines. The briefing will also consider the opportunities for government, the private sector and academia to address the barriers facing women in scientific disciplines.

“The contributions of female scientists are critical to U.S. advancements in science and economic growth,” said Frédéric Rozé, President and Chief Executive Officer of L’Oréal USA. “By convening this congressional briefing, L’Oréal USA hopes to renew national dialogue about breaking barriers and forging new paths for women in science.”

The congressional briefing will feature the following panelists:

  • Russlynn Ali, Assistant Secretary, Office of Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education
  • Dr. Shirley Malcom, Head of Education and Human Resources, American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • Pr. Joan Steitz, Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University
  • Pr. Sara Seager, Ellen Swallow Richards Professor of Planetary Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Sheril Kirshenbaum, Author of Unscientific America and Science Blogger for (Moderator)

New research offers compelling insights

The panel will also address results from the newly-released survey of 1,300 female and male scientists, conducted by AAAS and commissioned by L’Oréal USA, on the barriers women encounter in pursuit of scientific careers. Survey respondents included male and female scientists who hold doctoral degrees and are registered users of Science online, including members of AAAS. The national research revealed significant new insights on the extent to which barriers affect men and women differently and the best means to overcome these obstacles.

  • Female scientists face unique, gender-based barriers in career advancement
  • 61 percent of female scientists who participated in the study have personally struggled balancing life and career
  • More than half of female respondents (52 percent) have experienced gender bias
  • More than one in three female scientists who participated in the survey (37 percent) faced barriers in having/raising children
  • Half of all female respondents (50 percent) cited challenges with child care support as a major barrier for individuals working in the science field

Read more at Forbes


Comments (6)

Links to this Post

  1. Next Stop DC | The Intersection | Discover Magazine | September 22, 2010
  1. Sorry I can’t make it. I’ll read about in the magazine. Hope to see you soon.

  2. dirk

    I’m surprised that anyone of any gender or of any profession said that they have not personally struggled balancing life and career.

  3. Good luck! This is clearly an important issue. In this context I was a little chagrined to see Eric Michael Johnson’s post on coercion taken down. I suspect the reasons are clear and saddening.

  4. I am concerned about getting more women into science, but it seems with the state of science education today, we might want to focus on just getting more “people” into science.

  5. Anna

    I would not have been eligible for this survey since I quit my career in science; but I quit my career in science because I couldn’t make the childcare thing work.

    My high school age daughter is interested in science, so I hope it will be easier for her.

    Kudos to all participating in this effort.


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry. Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 For more information, visit her website or email Sheril at


See More

Collapse bottom bar