Scientist Whose Male Boss Won Nobel For Her Work Is Giving New $3 Million Prize Away

In 1974, Jocelyn Bell Burnell’s male PhD supervisor at the University of Cambridge won a Nobel Prize for a discovery that she was the first to notice. On Thursday, the 75-year-old acclaimed astrophysicist won a coveted science prize of her own ― the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics.


But instead of keeping the hefty $3 million award that comes with this distinction, Bell Burnell says she will be using it to help women, refugees, and other minority students follow in her footsteps and become physics researchers themselves. 

She will be donating her prize money to the Institute of Physics to create scholarships for people from underrepresented groups, the Institute said in a statement.


Great memo on family-friendly scheduling from Brown University's Provost


Family-friendly scheduling does not mean that all events after 5:30 should be prohibited. Rather, it means that those engaged in programming should be conscious of the exclusions created by after-hours events and should take proactive steps to accommodate faculty unable to stay on campus into the evening. It requires chairs and directors to recognize the baseline pressures created by the scheduling grid and the fact that many faculty with children must teach courses that extend beyond the time of the university's daycare provision. It forces an acknowledgement that there is no perfect time for a lecture on campus; a 5:30 lecture excludes some faculty just as a lecture at 12:00, 2:00, or any other time typically associated with classroom teaching excludes others. Too often we hear that "5:30 is the only time that everyone can make," but this is patently not true.

Practical policies can combat gender inequality

So what have we done? Simply, we asked the people affected — women in their postdoctoral period — for their ideas.

For our institute, some of the simplest changes included steps to ensure that all important meetings are held within school hours, to make sure that researchers with child-care duties can attend.

We have also set up a dedicated office with hot-desks and an adjoining room in which small children can play and older children can do homework or watch television, under the supervision of their parents.

8 Strategies For Men To Combat Gender Bias

Great suggestions.

  1. Understand the ways that the system is biased against women and the role that we all play in maintain the status quo.
  2. Revise your syllabi to include work by women.
  3. Reach out to women (especially junior women) by incorporating them in professional networks and inviting them to participate in special issues and topical conferences.
  4. Refuse to participate in men only events (i.e. panels, forums with all men).
  5. Call out instances of bias when you see them.
  6. Don’t hijack women’s conversations in professional settings, and work to ensure everyone is expected to speak in important conversations when you are in charge.
  7. Ask women about their research.
  8. Work to change the system when you can (advocate for parental leave policy, advocate for attention to genders issues in your department like uneven service obligation, bring up gender bias in teaching evaluations whenever this is used to evaluate faculty, advocate for back-up care, subsidized daycare, attention to public school breaks and holidays in establishing academic calendars, and spousal hiring).


Could Parental Leave Actually be Good for my Academic Career? | SAS Confidential

Parental leave is perceived differently for men and women.

Here I was being showered with praise for taking 3.5 months off work and feeling pretty good about my decision until I did a quick comparison to my partner’s situation, also an early career scientist. Not only would she be taking nearly three times the amount of leave, but she’s also been carrying a baby around for eight months whilst undertaking world-class research. Is there a small fan club of approving academics lined up to congratulate her on the brave decision to spend time with her child? Not that I’ve seen.

Surviving as an underrepresented minority scientist in a majority environment

Very informative read.

After I arrived at Duke in 1998, I was inducted into many initiatives to help diversify the scientific workforce, including the push for women in science. I wondered, as a man, what did I know about women? But there was an assumption that a person of an underrepresented minority background knew more of what was needed for any minority to succeed, including women in science, relative to white males. There may be some truth to this, but certainly not an absolute truth. I began to realize that as a young professor at Duke University, and within the scientific community generally, I was being unintentionally asked to take on two jobs: 1) be the best scientist I could be, as expected of everyone else; and 2) help cure society’s racial disease, unlike everyone else. After two years, I made the conscious decision that I could not do both jobs well at the same time. I decided on job 1, to pursue being the best scientist I could be, and only taking on those few tasks for job 2 in which I felt I could make the biggest impact.

Don’t be that dude: Handy tips for the male academic (or anyone else)

These are all really good.

  1. Don’t leave it to women to do the work of increasing diversity. Be proactive, rather than reactive, in your departments and institutions. Speak out about incidents that promote a hostile environment at your school, to your students and your colleagues. If you observe someone doing or saying something sexist, tell them that it’s not okay. Actively support your female colleagues when they experience sexism.

Interview with Jonathan Eisen on gender balance in science

In addition, there are a large number of ways implicit biases (i.e., those that are not necessarily purposefully trying to be biased against women) affect women’s careers in science. For example, since women on average tend to be more responsible for child care in families with children, lack of support for childcare in various venues has a disproportional effect on women. One classic example of implicit bias is in the discussion and recognition of scientists in the media, popular press, and in various related activities. For various reasons, the work on male scientists is overrepresented in such promotional actions.