NSM Faculty/Staff Newsletter

From the Office of the Dean

Picture a Scientist: Viewing Opportunity April 16-18

UH is sponsoring a screening of a powerful documentary entitled ‘Picture a Scientist’. It was an ‘Official Selection’ in the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival and has been labeled “Quietly devastating” by the Boston Globe and a “Fascinating and frightening examination of bias” by WGBH.

The Provost has endorsed and is sponsoring the UH showing. An email was sent to all faculty on April 9. Those who register will be provided a link to view the documentary online during April 16-18.

Virtual Discussion Panel, April 23

There will be a virtual discussion on Friday, April 23, from 12:00-1:30 pm that will include comments from Deans and organizers, followed by small group discussions, and then a debriefing of some of those discussions among all participants.

The large discussion session is spearheaded by Erika Henderson (Vice Provost for Faculty Recruitment, Retention, Equity, and Diversity at UH) and NSM faculty: Julia Wellner, Leah McAlister-Shields, and Jim Briggs. The small discussion groups will be led by them as well as other faculty volunteers from NSM and other colleges.

Register to View Picture a Scientist

We encourage all of you to register to view the film and participate in the discussions.

Overview: Picture a Scientist

The film documents the travails of three women scientists, a biologist, a chemist, and a geologist, in their academic careers as they faced implicit and explicit bias and harassment. Their experiences ranged from smaller lab space allocations, lesser pay, and differential service assignments than their male colleagues, to outright and explicit harassment. A constellation of other scientists provide commentary, insights, and other experiences as women in the academy.

The film is disturbing, moving, and enlightening.

I was always aware that these kinds of things could be happening, but it is eye-opening to see evidence-based reports from across the country in different NSM disciplines. Certainly, these and related kinds of biases play out in all corners of the academy. We should be aware of this and take action by instituting policies and procedures to mitigate their impact as we work to eliminate them. Fairness and equity are cornerstones in the academy. It is important to keep these in mind as we interact with each other and formulate responses to difficult situations. We have an obligation to be collegial and strive to be equitable, honest, and fair in our dealing with each other, staff, and students.

Jim Briggs, Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs