Help for connecting women hoping to re-enter science?

i-9dc84d4d9156dccb30d5f62466b4219a-swblocks.jpgAnother letter from my inbox:

Dear Sciencewoman,

I am a mom of 3 just starting my own lab. I have been thinking hard about how to recruit good postdoc talent despite the fact that I have no track record as an independent investigator. And then I remembered an article about an organization to help mentors and mentees who would like to return to science after a break (for taking care of children, family, whatever) to find each other. I was psyched about using such an organization because juggling three kids during my training taught me pretty quickly that productivity is often more about motivation than hours at the bench. And because my model system is flexible and suits working parents. Now neither I, nor many of my colleagues who also saw the article, can find anything about it! In my searches I ran across your reply with regards to being a part-time postdoc and was hoping perhaps you may succeed where we have failed? It's been disheartening that I can find so little, in general, on this subject.

Thank you,

Brand-spanking-new prof searching for talent

P.S. The craziest thing is that I thought it was a woman who is a Macarthur fellow that started the idea, but even with that lead I haven't been able to find out more. Hopefully someone out there can help.

Dear Brand-spanking-new,

Can I call you Spanky for short? :P

Off the top of my head, I have no idea what organization you describe, but it sounds awesome! I sure would love to know what it is. It doesn't like geoscience is your field, but the Association for Women Geoscientists offers small scholarships for women who have left school or the workforce and are now trying to return to or complete school. That's a great program, but not at all what you were describing.

Maybe my readers can help, because they are amazing with the resources. Readers?


More like this

There's an association for women working in the university -- AAUW, for American Association of University Women -- maybe they offered it?

The Association for Women in Science (AWIS) has several fellowships for women returning to science after taking a break for family reasons. They include the M Hildred Blewtt scholarship for "early career physicists": and the Satter Award which is for graduate students: Perhaps they'd have some resources on how to recruit these women.

Librarians are the awesomest ever, and I'm not just saying that because my mom is one. Fyi the close parenthesis accidentally got included in the 2nd link from O, you might want to delete it. Looks like s/he found either the exact organization Spanky describes or something awfully close to it! Go libes!

It's not the original article, but you have helped pinpoint a great organization. Unfortunately for Spanky she is in the US, and the Daphne Johnson Trust in the UK. Are we really this behind the curve in the States? Having just thrown off my pile of too-many-commitments as I move from my postdoc to my own lab, am I going to have to start some grass roots organizing here? If so, this is a fabulous model - so thank you, thank you science librarian!

Check out AWIS' mentoring resources. They may have something useful. If nothing else, you could place an ad in their magazine- and that might hit just the demographic you're looking for. You could also see if you have a local AWIS chapter that might be able to help. My local chapter sends out job postings from time to time.

Sorry about the extra ) in #2. Here's a few more organizations that I've found, divided geographically, now that I know that Spanky's in the States. Most of what I've found is not here in the states, but could provide models for what you are trying to create.

Article in Nature: POSTDOCS Equal opportunities
Nature 417, 5 (20 June 2002) | doi:10.1038/nj6891-05a

Which had the following links (Europe):
European Molecular Biology Organisation

International Union of Pure and Applied Physics

Daphne Jackson Trust

Swiss National Science Foundation

UK & Europe -
EMBO's Restart Fellowship - links not current

Australia -

iRelaunch, not a funding organization but provides support through programming
Society for Women Engineers Re-entry scholarship:…
NIH Biomedical posted on Duke's webpage
NSF ADVANCE: Increasing the Participation and Advancement of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Careers (ADVANCE) (maybe this can be written specifically to fit your needs?)

Back to other reference questions!

For those who do biomedical research, the NIH provides grant supplements to support the re-entry of women (and men) into biomedical research careers after time taken off for family leave or other qualifying reasons. You can check out the details here

I have been home for the last 13 years raising my two sons and would like to re-enter the pharmaceutical field I have a Ph.d. in Pharmacy and have not been successful in finding post-doc of any other type of lab work. If you have any suggestions, please post.

Thank you

Almost a year has passed since I sent this original query email. I think that the readers pinpointed essentially all of the existing resources. I quick chat with Bruce Alberts at a meeting led to the idea that AAAS might be willing to support a program designed specifically for scientist career re-entry. I am currently writing an NSF proposal that would include developing a database that would help link up willing mentors with mentees, educate PIs about opportunities such as the NIH supplements (these fund up to 3 years of salary!!) and potentially raise funds for fellowships as well. I welcome any other ideas or involvement of other individuals who would like to contribute to developing a project such as this.