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Front Med (Lausanne). 2018 Dec 13;5:330. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2018.00330. eCollection 2018.

Women in Translational Medicine: Tools to Break the Glass Ceiling.

Author information

1
Laboratory for Experimental Cardiology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.
2
Julius Global Health, Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.
3
Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.
4
Diabetes Research Institute IRCCS San Rafaele Scientific Institute, Milan, Italy.
5
Department of Dermatology and Allergology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.
6
Center for Research and Development of Education, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.
7
Medical Microbiology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.
8
University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.
9
Pediatric Gastroenterology, Wilhelmina Children's Hospital and Regenerative Medicine Center, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.
10
Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Special Dental Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.
11
Department of Head and Neck Surgical Oncology, University Medical Center Utrecht Cancer Center, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.
12
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
13
MyOwnMed, Bethesda, MD, United States.
14
HPO Center, Hilversum, Netherlands.
15
Laboratory of Translational Immunology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.

Abstract

Despite the recent movements for female equality and empowerment, few women occupy top positions in scientific decision-making. The challenges women face during their career may arise from societal biases and the current scientific culture. We discuss the effect of such biases at three different levels of the career and provide suggestions to tackle them. At the societal level, gender roles can create a negative feedback loop in which women are discouraged from attaining top positions and men are discouraged from choosing a home-centred lifestyle. This loop can be broken early in life by providing children with female role models that have a work-centred life and opening up the discussion about gender roles at a young age. At the level of hiring, unconscious biases can lead to a preference for male candidates. The introduction of (unbiased) artificial intelligence algorithms and gender champions in the hiring process may restore the balance and give men and women an equal chance. At the level of coaching and evaluation, barriers that women face should be addressed on a personal level through the introduction of coaching and mentoring programmes. In addition, women may play a pivotal role in shifting the perception of scientific success away from bibliometric outcomes only towards a more diverse assessment of quality and societal relevance. Taken together, these suggestions may break the glass ceiling in the scientific world for women; create more gender diversity at the top and improve translational science in medicine.

KEYWORDS:

gender; gender champions; gender roles; glass ceiling; translational medicine

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