The Key Role of Professional Societies38
A large number of professional societies provided written testimonies on their programs and policies regarding women of color to the conference. Please see Appendix E for those testimonies and Chapter 7, where many of their successful strategies and their suggestions for action are discussed.
SOCIETY FOR ADVANCEMENT OF HISPANICS, CHICANOS, AND NATIVE AMERICANS IN SCIENCE
Judit Camacho, executive director of the Society for Advancement of Hispanics, Chicanos, and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) represented the society and spoke at the conference. SACNAS focuses on the sciences, mentoring, and culture, emphasizing that students’ cultures add value to the scientific community and to their paths through it. SACNAS was originally based in the Southwest, but now has a national reach and includes Puerto Rico. Its network includes more than 30,000 people, with 70 colleges and university chapters, and it supports undergraduate and graduate students as well as postdoctoral fellows and faculty at all stages in their careers. The participation of women in SACNAS is continually rising, and they currently constitute 56 percent of SACNAS’ membership. Camacho affirmed SACNAS’s commitment to men of color as well.
SACNAS hosts an annual conference of 4000 attendees. The conference includes a session on “Coaching Strong Skills,” which addresses the need for women to become assertive while not overbearing, and it has had great success. Camacho highlighted a course developed by faculty at the University of Oregon that trains individuals to do coaching of strong negotiation skills for women, noting that the outcomes in terms of women’s new skills were outstanding.
AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION
Suzanne Bennett Johnson, president of the American Psychological Association (APA) and distinguished research professor at Florida State University’s College of Medicine, introduced APA, the largest publisher of psychological research in the world and an organization with a membership of more than 130,000 people. She noted two ways in which the goals of the conference intersected with the focus and efforts of the APA: Bias, prejudice, and discrimination are major topics in psychology, and inclusion and diversity are core values.
Bennett Johnson listed several offices and units within the APA focused on women of color:
38 This session was moderated by Patrick Valdez, director of College Access and Success Initiatives, Office for Access and the Advancement of Public Black Universities, Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities.
• Women’s Programs Office
• Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs
• Minority Fellowship Program Office
• Division 35: Society for the Psychology of Women
o Psychology of Black Women
o Concerns of Hispanic Women/Latinas
o Psychology of Asian Pacific American Women
o Alaskan Native/American Indian/Indigenous Women
The APA has a number of policy statements and publications (see APA’s written testimony E-11), and it sponsors a women’s leadership conference.
The APA has a Center for Workforce Studies that collects data on psychology researchers by gender, race, employment setting, and activity, and the center monitors employment status and academic rank of women of color. The APA has a diversity implementation plan and has formal relationships with the Association of Black Psychologists, the Asian-American Psychological Association, the National Latina/Latino Psychological Association, and the Society of Indian Psychologists.
The APA is a member of the Collaborative for Enhancing Diversity in Science, a coalition created to increase collaboration among associations, societies, federal agencies, and private foundations to create a more diverse scientific workforce. The collaborative recently hosted a conference on “Enhancing Diversity in Science: Working Together to Develop Common Data, Measures, and Standards,” where the APA made the following recommendations:
• Improve the collection and evaluation of empirical data on women of color in academia with a focus on career transition points.
• Identify, highlight, and reward model programs and best practices for maximizing talent of women of color in academia.
• Encourage mentoring of women of color by including protected time for mentoring in grants and contracts.
• Recognize psychology as a STEM discipline.
• Offer financial support for the development of training materials for departments of psychology that provide explicit and proactive guidance on how to promote a supportive and welcoming climate for women of color in academia.
• Offer financial incentives to institutions and departments of psychology to develop comprehensive programs to support women of color, which include:
o curriculum development
o enhanced access to role models and mentors
o scholarship and fellowship funding
o changes to institutional climate
• Highlight innovative models that support women of color in academia as they navigate multiple roles and identities.
AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR MICROBIOLOGY
Marian Johnson-Thompson, chair of the Committee on Microbiological Issues Impacting Minorities at ASM, and professor emerita of biology and environmental sciences at the
University of the District of Columbia, introduced the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), an organization serving 26 disciplines in microbiology and having 38,000 members, of which 2.7 percent are women of color. Of its 28 presidents, 12 have been women, although it has not yet had a president who was a woman of color. The ASM’s mission is to advance the microbiological sciences as a vehicle for understanding life processes, and it has an honorific arm, the American Academy of Microbiology. In 1979, the ASM established the Committee on the Status of Women in Microbiology, and, in 1984, the Committee on the Status of Minority Microbiologists.
In the 1990s, participation of minorities was not at the level the ASM had aimed for; therefore, it established a task force and engaged focus groups to plot a course toward increasing the participation of underrepresented groups. One outcome of the task force was the creation of a new committee within the Public and Scientific Affairs Board, the Committee on Microbiological Issues Impacting Minorities.
ASM manages the NIH-sponsored conference for minority students who receive NIH funding, Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS). The ASM makes efforts to have representation of women of color at its annual meeting. A minority travel award is available, funded by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Johnson-Thompson noted that the majority of applicants for that award are women.
The ASM tracks the demographics of its membership, but it (like other societies) sees a significant number of people opting not to identify their ethnicities. For the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, they see slightly more women than men. Members of the Committee on Microbiological Issues Impacting Minorities make an effort to nominate outstanding microbiologists who are women of color for academy fellowship and academy awards. The Alice Evans Award (Evans was president of ASM in 1928) is given to a person who has made outstanding contributions to the advancement of women in microbiology, and at least one woman of color has received that award.
Outstanding minority microbiologists are listed on ASM’s website. The Committee on Microbiological Issues Impacting Minorities also produces a monthly electronic newsletter that spotlights an outstanding minority microbiologist in order to increase their visibility.
AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY
Linette Watkins, former chair of the Committee of Minority Affairs, current member of the Steering Committee of the Women Chemists of Color Initiative at ACS, and a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Texas State University, San Marcos, discussed the activities of the American Chemical Society (ACS), formed in 1876 and currently having more than 164,000 members. Many of its members have not identified their race, gender, and/or ethnicity to the ACS, but of those who do, 25 percent are women, and of those women, 11 percent are women of color. The ACS Department of Diversity Programs includes several committees focused on women and/or diversity, including:
• Women Chemists Committee (formed 85 years ago)
o Travel awards
• Committee on Minority Affairs (formed 20 years ago)
o ACS Scholars Program
• Joint Sub-Committee on Diversity (formed in the early 2000s)
• Women Chemists of Color Initiative (formed in 2012)
In 2010, a summit was held at the ACS annual meeting that brought together women in the early and mid/late stages of their careers to discuss how to advance a group focused on women chemists of color. In 2012, the ACS established the Women Chemists of Color Initiative with the goals to build community, enhance communication, advocate for women chemists of color, and identify resources to support women of color through their career pathways. Currently, the initiative’s main programming activities are at major annual meetings, including that of the ACS itself and those of its sister societies—the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) and the Society for Advancement of Hispanics, Chicanos, and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).
Outcomes measurement. The moderator asked the panel about the types of outcomes measurement each professional society uses.
Bennett Johnson discussed the APA’s strong interest in attracting new members who are in the early stages of their careers, although she noted that many early-career psychology researchers do not identify their ethnicity for data collection. The APA monitors the proportion of their fellows who are women of color, and it collects data from psychology departments around the nation, tracking the occupants of tenure-track positions and the employment status and location of recent Ph.D.s. For the minority fellowship, they track the career trajectory of former fellows.
Watkins described how the ACS evaluates all programs regularly, debating what the measures of success should be and collecting and analyzing data. Concerning the newly formed Women Chemists of Color Initiative, at all events—the summit, networking events, and activities at national meetings—they poll attendees about their satisfaction with the event and solicit feedback for enhancing future activities. The success of the initiative’s first two years prompted the ACS to adopt the program as part of its Department of Diversity Programs.
Camacho spoke to two different ways of understanding success: first, as a measure of the outcomes of a specific program, and, second, the long-term success of an organization or a collaboration. She emphasized how an individual’s success in her career cannot be attributed to any single cause, and noted that SACNAS considers its efforts to be complementary to the programs in individual college and university campuses. Regarding specific programs, Camacho said that SACNAS has very good data on outcomes. And regarding their long-term success, Camacho noted two challenges: the difficulty of keeping track of people as they move along their career paths, and the difficulty of knowing specifically how SACNAS’ efforts figured into their success.
Camacho also discussed how one key component of programmatic success is helping students to see themselves as scientists: engaging students in the practice of science. SACNAS is collaborating with a faculty member at the University of California, Santa Cruz, to examine self-efficacy models and further determine what students need in order to believe they can become a scientist. One of the things that their collaborative research has shown is that students must be actively involved in research, including the communication of the research to wider audiences.
A participant reminded the presenters that professional societies need to survey their non-members in order to get a clear picture of the discipline and its levels of inclusion, and she urged
professional societies to take advantage of their vast connections that allow them to survey a wide range of individuals in a given discipline.
Collaborations. The moderator and conference participants asked the panel what collaborations exist across societies and whether and how societies exchange information about what efforts are the most successful. The presenters described the following examples of collaborations:
• SACNAS has established a partnership with the American Association for the Advancement of Science to develop leaders among postdocs, early-career scientists, and mid-career scientists. The selected scholars participate in a week-long seminar in Washington, D.C., meeting with leaders in numerous areas of the sciences and biomedicine.
• The ASM has some collaborations, though they are still small. They sponsor a session on microbiology at the SACNAS annual meeting and at the Beta-Kappa-Chi annual meeting.
• ACS also collaborates with some allied societies, mainly through annual meetings as well.
The presenters expressed a shared desire that more information exchange take place regarding best practices, and they agreed that it would be very beneficial to have targeted funding to support such exchanges.