In celebration of International Women’s Day (March 8th) and Women’s History Month, we are focusing on the growing role that women are playing in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers, which are predominantly male-dominated. The women STEM gender gap has been a point of emphasis, especially as women continue to attend and graduate from colleges and universities at an increasing rate.
In this Q&A interview with two MIT Koch Institute cancer research graduate students, Dr. Faustman highlights the past, present and future challenges that women in STEM face, providing lessons learned and advice for young women pursuing a STEM career. Eleanor Cameron of the Hemann Lab and Leah Schmidt of the Jacks Lab posed the following questions to Dr. Denise Faustman of Mass General Hospital. Here are her responses:
Question 1: Could you speak about your experience as both a mentor and as a mentee and also about any specific challenges mentoring young women vs. young men?
Question 2: How important do you think it is for women in STEM fields to have good networking with other women in a similar field of research and does your network include women you met early in your scientific career?
Question 3: To what extent do you think early exposure (before undergrad) to STEM fields is important in getting women interested and involved?
Question 4: Do you think women in STEM face more skepticism when they challenge major paradigms in a controversial field of research? Do you think women might pursue controversial results with less vigor or downplay major breakthrough then men in these fields?
Question 5: Do you have any specific advice on things to do (or not to do) as a woman pursuing a STEM career?
Join along in the conversation online, by using hashtag #WomenInSTEM on Twitter and on Facebook. Share your stories, ask questions and get advice. This is your opportunity to network with other rock star women in science, technology, engineering and math!
About the Author
Denise Faustman, MD, PhD, is Director of the Immunobiology Laboratory at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Her current research focuses on discovering and developing new treatments for type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune diseases, including Crohn’s disease, lupus, scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, and multiple sclerosis.
Her type 1 diabetes research has earned her notable awards such as the Oprah Achievement Award for “Top Health Breakthrough by a Female Scientist” (2005), the “Women in Science Award” from the American Medical Women’s Association and Wyeth Pharmaceutical Company for her contributions to autoimmune disease research (2006), and the Goldman Philanthropic Partnerships/Partnership for Cures “George and Judith Goldman Angel Award” for research to find an effective treatment for type 1 diabetes (2011).