Tools Supporting Diversity

The "Action Potentials" Series -
Actions researchers can take to support equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in STEM

Gender inequity and insufficient diversity in STEM are stubborn problems with multiple causes spanning the entire career. While institutional solutions are crucial, there is also potential for individuals to take action within their own sphere of influence.

The “Action Potentials” series aims to empower neuroscientists with easy-to-implement tools to take action in areas where EDI-relevant problems are known to occur. This evolving list of recommendations addresses areas that researchers themselves can impact directly, namely, interactions with team members and the research itself.

Action Potential #1 - Gender bias in letters of recommendation

Research has shown that letters of recommendation for women are on average shorter, contain fainter praise, more doubt-raisers, and more “grindstone” adjectives (e.g. hard-working). Doubt-raisers, in turn, have been found to influence how applicants are evaluated. The resources below can help you ensure the letters you write reflect your intentions and reduce unintentional gender bias.

Action Potential #1

Action Potential #2 - Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is a preference for or prejudice against a thing, person, or group, often based on stereotypes shaped by our background, culture, and personal experiences. Unconscious bias can negatively impact the workplace experience and career advancement of women and other underrepresented groups as well as the diversity of organizations. Below are some tools to help individuals recognize and address unconscious bias.

Action Potential #2

Action Potential #3 - Sex and Gender in Research

Integrating sex and gender analysis into basic and clinical research strengthens not only individual projects, but also the translational pipeline, and ultimately the value of science to the public. Taking this dimension into account is also increasingly required by funding agencies and publishers. View the resources below on ways to integrate this dimension into your research. 

Action Potential #3

Action Potential #4 - Inclusive Language

The way we use language can reinforce or counteract stereotypes about which groups of people are best suited to a given field. The resources below can support a more inclusive use of language for science and academia. 

Action Potential #4

Additional Tools

Databases can facilitate the search for qualified female and other underrepresented researchers as:
  • candidates for professorships and other open positions (active recruitment)
  • speakers for seminar series or scientific events
  • experts for advisory panels, editorial boards, commissions, committees
  • interview partners for the media
  • mentors… and more
Moreover, if you are a female or underrepresented scientist, you can boost your visibility to potential employers by adding your profile to databases.
Selected databases of female and underrepresented scientists:
AcademiaNet (all academic fields)
ALBA Network[nbsp](neuroscience)
anneslist (neuroscience)
Black In Neuro (neuroscience)
gage - 500 Women Scientists (STEMM fields)
NEURONEXXT (neuroscience)
Women in Neuroscience (neuroscience)
500 Queer Scientists (all STEM fields)
Diversity Journal Club

On the first Monday of every month at 11:00 a.m. the Diversity Journal Club meets virtually to discuss articles about gender equality and diversity in science with a broader audience. Everyone interested is invited to participate, read and discuss articles, and present own ideas. Stay informed, deepen your knowledge, share your views, and help us expand the conversation. Join the club - see Events.

Examples of articles discussed so far:
What Got You Here, Won’t Help You There: Changing Requirements in the Pre- Versus the Post-tenure Career Stage in Academia, S. K. Rehbock,  et al., 2021
Inequalities and the Paradigm of Excellence in Academia, Chap 6. “Gender Bias in Peer Review Panels”,  F. Jenkins, et al., 2022
Citation bias, diversity, and ethics, K. S. Ray, et al., 2022
Saying ‘no’ in science isn’t enough, L. Babcock, et al., 2022
Why four scientists spent a year saying no, A. E. Cravens, et al., 2022
Tokenism Revisited: When Organizational Culture Challenges Masculine Norms, the Experience of Token Is Transformed, C. Holgerson and L. Romani, 2020
Hochschulabsolvent/innen mit Migrationshintergrund am Übergang in die Promotion, S. Neumeyer und Irena Pietrzyk, 2020