To the website formerly known as Change.gov
Dear President Obama and VP Biden,
On your website, you wrote:
Promoting Women in Math and Science: Women constitute 45 percent of the workforce in the U.S., but hold just 12 percent of science and engineering jobs in business and industry. Women also make up just 9 percent of the recipients of engineering-related bachelor's degrees. President Obama and Vice President Biden believe that every student should have equal access to education in math, science, and technology in order to compete on a global scale.
I'm writing to ask what you're planning to DO about this. Your website talks about "promoting" but I don't see any plan of action?
Actions speak louder than words.
Right now, I'm looking at being UNEMPLOYED as a woman with a PhD in Science and >5 years of Post-doctoral research experience.
Where's my promotion?
I'm looking at grants and and university policies.
Here's what needs to change.
1. NIH should allow ANYONE AND EVERYONE with a PhD to apply for ALL GRANTS.
Grant review should be done WITHOUT regard to past performance, depending ONLY on innovation and, if necessary, preliminary data (which, by the way, I have in spades!).
Just in case you don't understand why I'm telling you this, it's because the current funding mechanisms are:
c) Terribly biased (both with regards to gender and, dare I say it, ethnicity)
d) Exclusive of young people
Don't you like the support of the youth? Well, "young" investigator in science-land is anyone under the age of 40 (or maybe 42, when you get your first real grant in the current system?).
The current system COMPLETELY EXCLUDES YOUNG PEOPLE FROM DOING INDEPENDENT RESEARCH.
Where do you think the innovation comes from? Those 60-year old tenured professors?
Come on, really?
2. Universities should allow ANYONE AND EVERYONE with a PhD to apply for GRANTS AND LAB SPACE.
Currently, universities are blocking everyone post-PhD and pre-faculty from applying for independent funding. They do this because lab space is tied up with teaching responsibilities, which when you think about it.... really makes no sense.
To put it simply, at universities all over this country, we have faculty who don't teach anything, and researchers with no lab space of their own.
We have thousands of young, hardworking, trained researchers who are all going to quit science if you don't do something about it PRONTO.
Even better, YOU paid to train us. You, the government. The taxpayer. You paid to train us, and now you're going to have to start over from scratch. You know all those articles about how there's a dearth of scientists? There's two things you need to know about those.
1. They're TOTALLY FALSE. There are PLENTY of scientists, we just don't have the resources we need.
2. The fears about having a shortage of actual scientists are about to become true, if you don't act now and do something about it, you'll lose a whole generation (or two) of young people who wouldn't touch science as a career. Wouldn't even consider it when they see the job prospects. And they'd be totally justified, too.
My point being, this problem should be totally avoidable, but NIH and university policies make no sense. Put them together, and the "system", such as it is, was never designed to work as a a system, and instead it works against any kind of national research progress (especially health research, which you claim to care about!) .
You may be wondering why I'm writing this now, when it's maybe too late.
I'm writing this now because I'm hearing two rumors.
Rumor 1. That the Stimulus Plan (the name of which frankly sounds like the economic version of a pornographic fluffer).. wait, I lost my train of thought. Oh, right. That the Stimulus Plan has, in the current (recent?) version, money for >1000 2-year grants.
Rumor 2. That the NIH part of the Stimulus Plan is on the chopping block (thank you, Republiscum who would rather cut taxes, like that's really going to help anything).
If Rumor 1 is right, then you have to make sure these grants are AVAILABLE and ACCESSIBLE to researchers at ALL LEVELS (even women! even non-faculty!).
If Rumor 2 is correct, none of this matters, and you've got your work cut out for you.
Uh, good luck. Have fun running the country
Thank you for your inspiring speeches, they're great. But actions still speak louder than words.
If this isn't sufficiently clear, feel free to contact me via this blog and I will happily explain it to you and your support staff.