Perspectives on graduate study in the sciences

To the Editor:

As someone who was at the Feb. 17 walk-in to President Levin’s office (“Protest decries Levin’s silence”, 2/18), I would like to speak about my experiences here as a woman and a scientist that led me to march to his door. My hope was to open dialogue with him about the concrete steps that this university can take to ensure all scientists get a fair chance in academia. My experience is not so unique, which is why 115 female scientists signed onto a letter in the span of 48 hours asking Levin to contribute to the current discussions about the lack of women in the science faculty.

I have seen women in the graduate school leave their academic programs because they could not afford or coordinate child care for their children. I have seen international students struggling to support a family on one graduate student stipend and their dependents going without health care because the cost was overly burdensome. I have seen too many women leave the academic track because the allure of a stable, well-paying industry job was too much to withstand the insecure, low-paying life of a post-doc where the chances of “making it” to faculty are getting slimmer by the year regardless of gender.

I refuse to accept that this is how academic science has to be and I think Yale University could lead all research institutions by removing obstacles that perpetuate the current system. And that’s why I walked up to Betts House and circulated the letter among women scientists asking for more flexible tenure policies that actually get utilized, affordable child care for all academics and to subsidize the cost of dependent health care. I will continue to do what it takes to make sure academic science is a place where I would like to spend the rest of my life.



Shannon Anderson GRD ’05

Feb. 24, 2005



To the Editor:

I am a fifth-year graduate student in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. I am also a GESO organizer working with graduate students in the life and physical sciences to build a union for scientists. I am writing to provide a much-needed union scientist perspective on GESO’s recent efforts, which has been absent in the recent flurry of articles. Through a union contract at Yale, we want to preserve and promote academic science, specifically the values that we believe it embodies. Such values are at stake in science today at universities across the nation. These values include responsibility in scientific research such as transparency in the industry partnerships in which Yale engages and intellectual property rights for all researchers; ensuring that academic science is a public good that gives back to and enhances the surrounding community; and making sure that scientific education and research is open to talented and exceptional scientists of any gender, race, or nationality at all levels of the career path and that they be provided with the best opportunities to succeed and do great science. We scientists in GESO share a vision to change the direction that science is taking, both at the University and national level. Collectively, we have brought attention to the desire for subsidized daycare and dependent health care for scientists who are parents and better science career services at Yale. Additionally, we have fought both locally and nationally for international student visa reform and approached the NIH for dialogue about science funding and career issues. I am proud to be part of a community of scientists who want a greater voice in the direction that science is taking and who want to ensure that our science is a responsible public good and that academic science careers are increasingly respectable and accessible at Yale.



Bon W. Koo GRD ’06

Feb. 24, 2005

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