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WISE Inspirations Network at Stanford (WINS) Speaker Series: Dr. Jo Handelsman

Tuesday, October 17, 2017 -
4:30pm to 6:30pm
Faculty Club, Main Dining Room

Registration is closed

Limited Seating. Registration Deadline: Sunday, October 15, 2017

The WISE Inspirations Network at Stanford (WINS) aims to create an engaged Stanford network linking women graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, faculty, and alumnae in STEM fields, and their allies and advocates, through regular meetings and communications. WINS seeks to provide all with opportunities to learn from a diverse array of stand-out women in science and engineering about the realities of their lives and work, successes and lessons learned, and to connect individuals with a network of potential mentors, protégés, and other colleagues.

The Autumn 2017 WINS will feature Dr. Jo Handelsman, Ph.D., Director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, Vilas Research Professor, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The Fallacy of Fairness

Academic science is built on an assumption of meritocracy, but in fact, success and failure are based heavily on human judgments that are colored by preconceived notions.  A robust body of research shows that people’s judgments are shaped by unconscious biases—unintended prejudices that influence the definition of quality.  As a microbiologist, academic leader, and policymaker, my experiences and observations led me to also to engage in research to understand current limits on excellence and meritocratic practices in academic science.  Perceptions of a candidate’s competence are influenced by his or her gender, age, and ethnicity.  In a randomized experiment, we found that scientists, like other groups studied previously, favored a male over a female candidate with identical qualifications.  We then assessed the impact of videos of fictional narratives on subjects’ application of gender bias in science.  In this presentation, I will discuss the implications of this research for policy and practices that could generate a more meritocratic scientific community.

Jo Handelsman's Bio

Dr. Jo Handelsman was appointed by former President Barack Obama as the Associate Director for Science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) where she served for three years until January 2017. She received her Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Molecular Biology and has since authored over 100 papers, 30 editorials and 3 books. She is responsible for groundbreaking studies in microbial communication and work in the field of metagenomics. Notably, in 2011, she received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring from President Obama and in 2012, Nature named her one of “ten people who mattered this year” for her research on gender bias in science.

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