After launching a NEW Leaders Facebook group, I was posed the following question by a concerned neuroscience graduate student.
“If the field is largely pioneered and led by women, does it need an advocacy group biased toward women? Are the aims of “cultivating professional networks and skills for women” addressing areas where women are, in fact, deficient? I remain highly skeptical of explicitly discriminatory organizations unless they are aimed at addressing issues unique to the specific group.”
I said this in response:
“Hi XXX. Thanks for your concern. While the field is largely pioneered by women, this doesn’t mean that careers in the field won’t have the same problems women and minorities have in any field (i.e. finding similar opportunities as men, being paid as well as men, being able to find social networks and resources for professional growth to name a few–please see my article discussing research about this here: http://neuroethicswomenleaders.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/pregnancydisability/). Your argument resonates with those who say we don’t need affirmative action anymore too. While it’s true that women and minorities have made much progress, we have not overcome the historical narrative that still underlies the overall under-representation of women and minorities in (sustaining) positions of leadership worldwide in any field (including neuroethics). There are many cultural norms, even some that have been adopted and integrated into our own ideology and women, that we must overcome. The truth is women and men still aren’t on equal footing.And this is why we aim to address this challenge with an advocacy group. All fields deserve scholarship informed by a diverse set of world views and, unlike what you suggest, I would hardly think a field of exclusively women is any better than field that are almost exclusively white males. I encourage you to be open to learning more about advocacy groups for women and minorities, as you may have employees and students who will need advisors who are aware of the unique challenges that face us.”
This is just one of many examples of why we need NEW Leaders. I believe this is an important question that each of us should be able to address.
What do you think?