Matters of Ethics

Natalie A. Lafranzo, Nicholas Giordano, Edgar Arriaga

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


While there has certainly been attention and discussion around the underrepresentation of women in chemistry graduate programs (Bertozzi, C. R. Achieving Gender Balance in the Chemistry Professoriate Is Not Rocket Science. ACS Cent Sci 2016, 2, 181-182), as faculty in academia (Wang, L. D.; Widener, A. The struggle to keep women in academia. Chemical & Engineering News 2019, 97, 18-21), and the leaky professional pipeline for women (Grogan, K. How the entire scientific community can confront gender bias in the workplace. Nature Ecology & Evolution 2019, 3, 3-6), an effective solution is yet to be found to encourage and retain women in chemistry, particularly in leadership positions. One piece of the puzzle likely lies in better preparing students and academic faculty to recognize and address gender bias and harassment that occurs. Efforts to address bias can occur on an individual, personal level, but will be most effective when combined with systematic, institutional efforts. In this chapter, we aim to discuss the ethical issues that surround gender bias and harassment, and provide recommendations for introducing these ethical issues, and especially the role of power imbalances in relationships vis a vis bias and harassment, to faculty/staff, and to students early in their higher education journey. Specifically, working with academic institutions, particularly within historically male-dominated departments (such as science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM departments) to include ethics curricula comprised of both formal coursework and interactive activities that address gender bias and inclusion best practices. Additionally, we will discuss some of the challenges that women will face as they navigate the beginning of their chemistry education, careers, and personal lives, and provide recommendations for the faculty and mentors who support them. Personal anecdotes will help establish the realities of today, can help enable victims to feel their voices are heard, and convince everyone that this is indeed a serious problem that happens all around us. However, rather than fixating on the challenges that we face, the goal of this chapter is to start a conversation, propose a framework, and establish potential guidelines that can be implemented in higher education to improve gender bias and its negative impact. The expectation is not that these challenges may be solved by focusing only at this level, but that earlier educational discussions regarding gender bias and ethics are both feasible and impactful.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationACS Symposium Series
PublisherAmerican Chemical Society
Number of pages18
StatePublished - 2020

Publication series

NameACS Symposium Series
ISSN (Print)0097-6156
ISSN (Electronic)1947-5918

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
One area not yet addressed in this chapter is the role that persons who are in the majority (the identity group not often subjected to bias or harassment) can play in eliminating gender bias. Specific to the topic at hand, this would involve male faculty members and administrators advocating for gender equity. One program the authors wish to highlight is championed by North Dakota State University (NDSU) and funded through the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Funding Information:
Within the College of Science and Engineering (CSE) specifically, we see strong support of advancing a climate of equity and inclusion. Typical of STEM-focused colleges, including CSE, demographics favor men among faculty, staff, and students. CSE has been making concerted efforts to decrease such gender gaps. Implicit bias training is now required from anyone who serves in faculty search committees. Advocacy for female faculty is supported by the Women’s Faculty Cabinet () who recommend guidelines and policies to the Provost, Faculty Senate, Deans, and Departments on issues affecting women, gender equity, and campus life. CSE supports efforts to network and exchange ideas among faculty beyond the University of Minnesota, and maintains its membership to the Women in Engineering Proactive Network (WEPAN) (). Female students count on CSE to empower everyone to address the gender gap, improve inclusion and elevate respect for women students. These efforts are coordinated college wide through the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Program and several student affinity groups including: Alpha Sigma Kappa – Women in Technical Studies, Association for Computing Machinery for Women, Association for Women in Mathematics, IEEE Women in Engineering, Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Girls Who Code, and She is ME (). Many of these represent local chapters of national organizations which may be established on any campus interested in providing such resources.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Chemical Society. All rights reserved.


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