随着越来越多的女性进入科学领域,是时候重新定义导师制了

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无数的科学家,其中许多是女性,Twitter上表达了他们的愤慨,甚至有人写下公开信和自己的预印本作为回应。原始论文发现,与男性高级科学家共同撰写论文的女性初级科学家发现其论文引用率更高。但是,许多批评家对此主张提出质疑,认为这一结果男性导师和职业表现之间建立了联系。他们认为,科学家们经常与并非其导师的人们共同撰写文章,而引用率只是成就的一项指标。

当纽约大学阿布扎比分校的一组研究人员于去年秋天《自然通讯》上发表一篇论文,建议年轻的女科学家应该寻找男人作为指导者时,反弹很快而充满争议。无数的科学家,其中许多是女性,Twitter上表达了他们的愤慨,甚至有人写下公开信和自己的预印本作为回应。原始论文发现,与男性高级科学家共同撰写论文的女性初级科学家发现其论文引用率更高。但是,许多批评家对此主张提出质疑,认为这一结果男性导师和职业表现之间建立了联系。他们认为,科学家们经常与并非其导师的人们共同撰写文章,而引用率只是成就的一项指标。针对这些批评,作者最终撤回了论文。 (他们拒绝对《连线》发表评论。)

但是该论文已经引起了学术界关于性别和指导的更广泛的讨论。对于宾夕法尼亚大学生物工程学教授丹妮尔·巴塞特(Danielle Bassett)而言,促使论文被撤回的方法论上的担忧远非其最严重的罪过。她本人已经研究了引文的作法,发现神经科学领域,与男性资深作者的论文被引用的比例异常高-主要是因为其他男性科学家优先引用它们。她认为,建议年轻女性尝试与男性合写论文是一个严重的错误。她说:“这是指责的问题。” “我们有责任创造一种科学文化,让学生选择适合自己的导师。”

建立这样的文化绝非易事。人主宰着科学的高层。甚至心理学等领域,女性占本科生和研究生课程学生的大多数,截至2014年,男性仍占全部教授职位的三分之二。工程学领域,这一数字上升到88%。因此,年轻女性和其他少数族裔科学家面临着大多数男人根本不需要考虑的难题-我应该与一个看起来像我的导师一起工作,还是应该与一个有名气的导师一起工作?

研究人员已经证明了对选择共享人口统计资料的导师的科学家的好处,尽管这些好处可能比学术上的情感更诱人。一项研究于2017年发表《美国国家科学院院刊》(National Academy of Sciences)上,显示工程学中有女性导师的女性更有可能留该领域,并拥有更大的归属感,尽管她们的成绩并不比同班同学的成绩更好与男性导师。 2011年发表《社会问题杂志》上的另一项研究发现,STEM领域的同性别和同种族导师对成绩没有影响,但学生们认为拥有与他们相似的顾问很重要。

匹兹堡大学企业管理,心理学以及公共和国际事务教授奥黛丽·穆雷尔(Audrey Murrell)说:“指导不仅仅是打开大门。” “这是要让人们感到宾至如归。这是关于发展他们,是为整个人提供食物。”

不难想象为什么女性会偏爱女性导师,以及为什么女性导师会帮助她们留自己的领域。科学界的妇女面临着男人很少遇到的障碍:性骚扰,产妇歧视以及基于性别的能力丧失,仅举几例。自己经历过这些障碍的顾问可能最有能力为年轻的科学家提供帮助。 UNC教堂山心理学和神经科学副教授克里斯汀·林德奎斯特(Kristen Lindquist)说:“很难知道您没有要跨越什么障碍。”去年秋天,他对《自然通讯》的论文发表了回应。 (她和她的合著者认为,研究人员没有发现关于引文模式的新知识,并且他们忽略了同性别指导下众所周知的好处。)

麻萨诸塞州大学阿默斯特分校多样性科学研究所所长Nilanjana Dasgupta说,拥有一个支持者“您走路或可能走路时穿的鞋子”可能是无价的。达斯古普塔(Dasgupta)她的研究中发现,同龄的同龄伴侣和他们的受训者职业上相近,可以起到特别有益的作用,也许是因为受训者更容易这些顾问中认出自己。她说:“比她们的导师高出几年的同辈导师尤其受启发,因为她们的成功似乎更容易实现,”她说。

穆雷尔说,事实证明,她的同伴导师是她最有影响力的顾问。他们事业上一路前进,成为彼此支持的重要来源。她说:“我们整个职业生涯中共同努力。” “我们移动时共享资源,共享机会,共享信息并提供支持。”

话虽如此,仅凭性别,女科学家不一定是年轻女子的良师益友。巴塞特回忆说,有一次,另一位女科学家要求她为负责她的成功的男人命名。另一位,一位女性博士课程的面试官问她是否打算生育孩子,并告诉她,如果是这样,花钱给她资助是不值得的。 “我敢肯定这是非法的,”巴塞特说。

同样,男人可以提供出色的支持。 “男人不应该出于对妇女将无法做好工作的误导而害怕向妇女提供自己的潜导师,”医学生物伦理学和社会科学中心主任Reshma Jagsi说。密歇根大学。

当然,这需要男教授做出努力,以了解影响实验室中女性的问题。但是林德奎斯特(Lindquist)认为,男人可以并且应该承担起这一责任,也许是通过选择与少数族裔导师本人一起工作。她说:“男生与女导师一起工作,或白人男生与黑人男导师一起工作,同样有用,这样他们就可以了解科学中基于权力的差异如何影响不同的身份,”她说。 “反过来,他们也许会了解如何调整自己的导师制,以解决某天学生面临的挑战。”

巴塞特也指出,性别并不是顾问关系中唯一重要的事情。她说:“善良,人性,谦卑,人的尊重,人的慷慨更为重要。”但她强调,人们表达的对于寻找像自己一样的顾问的偏好是真实而重要的。她说:“有明显的证据表明,对于许多研究生来说,与导师共同分享性别对他们来说很重要,并且因为他们有榜样,所以他们可以以其他方式无法获得成功,” “他们可以找人谈谈偏见是什么以及如何应对。”

但是,要为妇女和少数族裔提供科学支持,要确保每个人都有一个人口统计学的导师就这么简单。尽管许多STEM领域中女性仍然是学生的人数不足,但对于教授而言,情况要差得多。这种不平衡会产生数学问题。贾格西说:“如果每个女人都需要一个女人作为自己的导师,而部门中只有一名高级女人,那么她最终必须成为六个人的导师。”

与白人妇女相比,白人妇女学术界仍然更容易找到匹配的人,有时只有白人或男性同事围着她。对于年轻的跨性别科学家来说,情况甚至更糟。达斯古普塔(Dasgupta)说:“唯一的一种确实比少数几种具有更大的毒性。”

即使一位年轻的女科学家能够找到一个支持她的女性为她提供建议,她也将面临她的男同事不一定要面对的挑战。妇女(尤其是有色人种的妇女)获得的补助资金少于男性,并且担任名望职位的可能性较小。即使常春藤盟校,女教授从国立卫生研究院获得的资助也比男性少25%。因此,有意选择一名女性导师的学生可能会因为实验室工作而获得了一个资金充裕且人脉相通的人的好处而错过了。如Bassett所说,她的白人男同学如果选择与看起来像他们的导师一起工作,则可以从“从树上掉下来的钱中受益,因为他们靠近一棵白人和男性的树上”。

巴塞特(Bassett)和其他人很快指出,资金和专业联系不仅仅来自传统的导师关系,尽管通常可以。达斯古普塔(Dasgupta)说:“它沉浸光荣的反射中,”这是一位有力科学家的标志。 Jagsi和Murrell倾向于将这种关系称为“赞助”,以阐明这种支持比情感或牧养更具有财务和工具性。

传统上,理科研究生将有一名正式导师(即他们的博士生顾问),他们将他们的实验室中完成研究。这种模式下,一位年轻的科学家得到一个人的指导和赞助。但是也可以从多种来源获得两种支持:博士后研究员,其他教授和同行,仅举几例。因此,贾格西(Jagsi)倡导她所说的“导师网络”,使学生可以从所有这些人提供的资源中受益。

穆雷尔说,期望一个人满足学生的所有需求可能从来都不是现实的。她说:“指导不仅是一回事,而且还涉及到各种关系类型的整个范围和组合。”而且,她继续说,成功不只是成绩好和引用次数高的功能。她说:“您不能仅仅将导师的素质视为获得出版物的途径。” “您必须查看该人的状况,其蓬勃发展,受到包容和受到欢迎的程度。”

由于赞助不一定要花费很多时间-它可以像促进学生和潜合作者之间的联系那样简单-赞助者可以很容易地整合到导师网络中。有了网络提供的选择,女人不必看起来像她的人和可以帮助她建立有利联系的人之间进行选择,她可以拥有多个支持者。但另一方面,这些网络可能给那些提供更耗时的援助形式的人们带来麻烦。赞助可能很容易,但要帮助某人克服歧视并非易事-而且,由于科学系中女性和有色人种的代表性不足,因此分担责任的人很少。

这种负担可能会使少数族裔科学家更难以管理他们的其他承诺。妇女已经承担了学术部门的大部分服务工作,例如担任委员会委员和担任行政职务。 Lindquist说,这样做的部分原因是性别定型观念。她说:“作为一个女人,我的同事们可能希望我更加关怀,成为一个支持者,等等。” “因此他们可能更有可能让我担任这些职务。”例如,如果要求一个系中唯一的女教授为每位女研究生提供指导,这个问题只会变得更糟。

因此,导师网络还不够。教职员工之间更公平地分配学术服务工作也很重要。 Lindquist说:“这很简单,只需列出谁做什么。”她说,花指导和支持该部门上的时间应该得到更高的回报,而这要花教授和支持部门上,而这要脱离教授自己的研究,而这是决定他们是否获得终身职位的主要决定因素。因此,指导工作不会降低女性的职业前景并使他们脱离学术界的最高领导层。


英文译文:

When a group of researchers at NYU Abu Dhabi published a paper in Nature Communications last fall suggesting that young women scientists should seek out men as mentors, the backlash was swift and vociferous. Countless scientists, many of them women, registered their indignation on Twitter—some even penning open letters and their own preprints in response. The original paper had found that female junior scientists who authored papers with male senior scientists saw their papers cited at higher rates. But a number of critics contested the assertion that this result established a link between male mentors and career performance. Scientists routinely coauthor articles with people who are not their mentors, they argued, and citation rates are just one metric of achievement. In response to these criticisms, the authors eventually retracted their paper. (They declined to comment to WIRED.)

But the paper had already stirred up a broader discussion about gender and mentorship in academia. For Danielle Bassett, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania, the methodological concerns that prompted the paper’s retraction were far from its worst sin. She herself has researched citation practices and found that, in neuroscience, papers with male senior authors are cited at a disproportionately high rate—primarily because other male scientists preferentially cite them. To suggest that young women should therefore try to author papers with men is, she believes, a grave error. “That was a problem in assigning blame,” she says. “The onus is on us to create a scientific culture that lets students choose a mentor that’s right for them.”

Creating such a culture is no easy task. Men dominate the upper echelons of the sciences. Even in fields like psychology, where women make up the majority of students in undergraduate and graduate programs, men held two-thirds of full professorships as of 2014. In engineering, that number rises to 88 percent. So young women and other minority scientists face a conundrum that most men never need to consider—should I work with a mentor who looks like me, or work with a mentor who has a big name?

Researchers have demonstrated benefits for scientists who choose mentors who share their demographics—though those benefits may be more emotional than academic. One study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2017, showed that women in engineering who had female mentors were more likely to remain in the field and felt a greater sense of belonging, although their grades were no better than those of classmates with male mentors. Another study, published in Journal of Social Issues in 2011, found that same-gender and same-race mentors in STEM fields had no effect on grades, but that students felt that having an adviser who was similar to them was important.

“Mentoring is not just about opening the door,” says Audrey Murrell, a professor of business administration, psychology, and public and international affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. “It’s about making people feel welcome. It’s about developing them, it’s about providing for the whole person.”

It’s not difficult to imagine why women might prefer female mentors, and why female mentors might help them remain in their fields. Women in science face obstacles that men rarely do—sexual harassment, maternity discrimination, and dismissal of their abilities on the basis of their gender, to name a few. An adviser who has herself experienced these obstacles is probably best positioned to support a young scientist as she navigates them. “It’s really hard to know what hurdles you didn’t have to jump over,” says Kristen Lindquist, an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at UNC Chapel Hill who authored a response last fall to the Nature Communications paper. (She and her coauthors argued that the researchers had discovered nothing new about citation patterns, and that they had neglected the well-known benefits of same-gender mentorship.)

And it can be invaluable to have a supporter “in whose shoes you walk, or are likely to walk,” says Nilanjana Dasgupta, director of the Institute of Diversity Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In her research, Dasgupta has found that same-gender peer mentors, who are close in age and career stage to their mentees, can have particularly salutary effects, perhaps because it’s easier for mentees to recognize themselves in those advisers. “Peer mentors who are just a couple of years more senior than the women they mentor are particularly inspiring, because their success seems more achievable,” she says.

Murrell says that her peer mentors have proven to be her most influential advisers; having progressed through their careers in tandem, they have all been essential sources of support for one another. “We move together throughout our career,” she says. “We’re sharing resources, sharing opportunities, sharing information, and providing support as we move.”

That said, a woman scientist is not necessarily a good mentor for a young woman solely by virtue of her gender. Bassett recalls that on one occasion, she was asked by another woman scientist to name the man responsible for her success. On another, a female PhD program interviewer asked her whether she planned to have children—and told her that, if so, it wouldn’t be worth the money to fund her. “I’m pretty sure that’s illegal,” Bassett says.

And, by the same token, men can provide excellent support. “Men should not be afraid of offering themselves as potential mentors to women out of a misguided sense that they won’t be able to do as good a job,” says Reshma Jagsi, director of the Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine at the University of Michigan.

Granted, it will require effort on the part of a male professor to learn about the issues affecting a woman in his lab. But Lindquist thinks that men can, and should, take on that responsibility—perhaps by electing to work with minority mentors themselves. “It’s just as useful for a male student to work with a female mentor, or a white male student to work with a Black male mentor, so they can learn how power-based differentials in science impact different identities,” she says. “In turn, they’ll maybe understand how to adjust their mentorship to account for those challenges in their own students someday.”

Bassett, too, points out that gender isn’t the only thing that matters in adviser relationships. “[The] goodness, humanity, humility, respectfulness of the person, generosity of the person, are more important,” she says. But she emphasizes that the preferences people express for finding an adviser who is like themselves are real and important. “There’s clear evidence that, for many graduate students, having a shared gender with their mentor is something that’s important to them and allows them to succeed in ways that they couldn’t otherwise, because they have a role model,” she says. “They have someone they can talk to about what the biases are and how to respond to them.”

But supporting women and minorities in the sciences can’t be as simple as making sure that everyone has a mentor who is a demographic match. As underrepresented as women still are as students in many STEM fields, the situation is far worse for professors. That imbalance creates a math problem. “If every woman needs a woman to be their mentor, and there’s only one senior woman in the department, she ends up having to be a mentor to half a dozen people,” Jagsi says.

And white women are still more likely to find a match in academia than women of color, who are sometimes surrounded by only white or male colleagues. The situation is similar, if not worse, for young trans scientists. “Being the only one is really much more toxic than being one of a few,” Dasgupta says.

Even if a young female scientist is able to find a supportive woman to advise her, she will face challenges that her male colleagues won’t necessarily have to contend with. Women—and especially women of color—receive less grant funding than their male counterparts and are less likely to hold prestigious positions. Even at Ivy League schools, female professors receive 25 percent less funding from the National Institutes of Health than men. So a student who intentionally chooses a female mentor could be missing out on the benefits of working in the lab of someone who is well funded and connected. Her white male classmates, if they choose to work with mentors who look like them, can benefit from “falling money from the trees, because they’re near a tree that’s white and male,” as Bassett puts it.

Bassett and others are quick to point out that funding and professional connections don’t only arise from traditional mentorship relationships, though they often can. “It’s basking in reflected glory,” Dasgupta says—a symptom of proximity to a powerful scientist. Jagsi and Murrell prefer to call this sort of relationship “sponsorship,” to clarify that the support is more financial and instrumental than emotional or pastoral.

Traditionally, graduate students in the sciences will have one official mentor—their PhD adviser—in whose lab they will complete their research. In this model, a young scientist receives mentorship and sponsorship from one person. But it’s also possible to obtain both kinds of support from a variety of sources: postdoctoral fellows, other professors, and peers, to name a few. So Jagsi advocates for what she terms “mentor networks,” in which students can benefit from the resources afforded by all of these individuals.

Expecting one person to serve all of a student’s needs, says Murrell, might never have been realistic. “Mentoring is not just one thing—it’s a whole range and portfolio of different types of relationships,” she says. And, she continues, success isn’t just a function of good grades and highly cited articles. “You can’t just look at mentor quality as access to a publication,” she says. “You have to look at the extent to which that person is doing well, and is thriving, and feels included, and feels welcome.”

Since sponsorship doesn’t necessarily take much time—it can be as simple as facilitating a connection between a student and a potential collaborator—sponsors can be easily incorporated into mentor networks. And with the options afforded by a network, a woman need not choose between someone who looks like her and someone who can help her make advantageous connections—she can have multiple supporters. But on the flip side, the networks could pose problems for those who provide the more time-consuming forms of aid. Sponsorship may be easy, but helping someone navigate discrimination is not—and, since women and people of color are underrepresented among science faculty, there are fewer people to share that burden. 

And that burden could make it more difficult for minority scientists to manage their other commitments. Women already shoulder the majority of the service work in academic departments, like serving on committees and taking on administrative roles. Part of the reason for this, says Lindquist, is gender stereotyping. “As a woman, my colleagues might expect me to be more caring, to be more of a support figure, and so on,” she says. “So they might be more likely to put me in those roles.” This problem would only get worse if, for example, the sole female professor in a department were called on to provide mentorship for every woman graduate student.

So mentor networks are not enough. It’s also crucial to spread academic service work more equitably among faculty members. “That may be as simple as just keeping a list of who’s doing what,” says Lindquist. And, she says, that time spent mentoring and supporting the department—which takes away from a professor’s own research, the chief determinant of whether or not they get tenure—should be more highly rewarded, so that mentorship doesn’t reduce women’s career prospects and keep them out of the highest ranks of academia.


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