Recaps from around the Web

Summit organizing team member Christie Aschwanden gives her take at The Last Word on Nothing. Ashwanden writes:

It was inspiring to see how many great, workable ideas people came up with for addressing the many issues we’d identified. Ideas ranged from approaching publications and asking them to include their policies on harassment with their freelance contracts so that freelancers know their rights and what to do if an issue arises, to conducting VIDA-like byline counts and organizing pitch bombs to ensure that publications can’t claim that women aren’t pitching them. The Finkbeiner Test, named after LWON’s very own Ann Finkbeiner, was discussed, as were style guides, harassment training and confidential hotlines to offer advice to people facing harassment or bias.

We are currently working to put the ideas developed at the summit into a Wiki, which we’ll make public. The science writer’s bill of rights is one of our top priorities, and we hope to finalize that soon so that we can ask NASW and other journalism organizations for support. More

Solutions scribed. Live-scribing by Perrin Ireland, @experrinment

Cris Russell gives a great recap at the Columbia Journalism Review with context, data, and plans for the future–and detailing the conversion of at least one attendee to embracing the feminist label. She writes:

The latest round of gender worries arises at a time when far more women are going into science, environment, and medical writing, but there is a dearth of decent-paying staff jobs. Many more science writers are freelancing for a living, pitching for assignments, negotiating for pay, and subject to the whims of assigning editors. Add gender bias to the mix, and the situation gets more precarious. More

Credit: Perrin Ireland, @experriment

Gender Equity Summit in Science Writing, posted at the Women in Astronomy blog, is a recap by Ed Bertschinger, professor of physics and MIT’s Institute and Community Equity Officer. Bertschinger also made some introductory and welcome comments at the keynote event. He writes:

The most prominent deliverable was the draft of a Bill of Rights for Science Writers that would call on employers to ensure equal opportunity for all journalists regardless of gender, race, national origin, sexual identity, age and religion, and to commit to high standards of ethics and professional conduct. All of us can learn from these ideas and conversations. More

Tabitha Powledge covers the conference at PLOS Blogs. She writes

Obviously consciousness-raising within a group is key to fixing the problem, although maybe the second order of business is to get beyond preaching to the converted. How to reach the folks who need to have their heads banged together because they can make the bias-changing decisions? It might make sense to collaborate with other professional groups to brainstorm solutions. More

Patricia Thomas, director of the graduate medical health and journalist program at the University of Georgia, covers the mentoring panel with a shout-out to her own mentors:

My first and most important mentor was a woman. Willa Shovar, my ninth-grade homeroom teacher, took an interest in me because I was 13 years old and reading a battered paperback copy of The Tin Drum. As soon as I graduated from high school, she announced that I had to stop calling her “Mrs. Shovar,” and that we could now become friends. She gave me the chutzpa to become a writer. More

Attendee and travel fellow Matthew Francis provides thorough podcast coverage, including on-the-spot interviews with attendees, at his blog, Galileo’s Pendulum.


Summit facilitator Kelly Hills interviews Emily Willingham, a member of the organizing team, for Virtually Speaking Science. Much of the conversation focused on the Summit. You can find background and context for the interview at Hills’ blog, Life as an Extreme Sport.

Kelly Hills & Emily Willingham • NASW/MIT Sci Writing Summit on Women in Sci 06/18 by Virtually Speaking Science | Science Podcasts.