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Postdocs Organize First Ever Female Leaders in Science Workshop at Yale

September 09, 2019
by Eileen Norris

This summer Yale hosted its first Women Leaders in Science Course for women postdocs. Facilitated by HFP Consulting and spearheaded by Genetics Postdoctoral Fellow Sara Gallini from the Greco Lab, the workshop brought together fifteen women postdocs with the goal of providing a path for further empowerment and professional growth within Yale School of Medicine.

“At the level of group leaders and professors, women clearly still form a minority in the world of scientific research. Many systemic, cultural and organizational issues are at the base of the low number of women in science,” said Gallini. This inequity in the world of scientific research fueled Gallini’s efforts in organizing the course, which broadly focused on self-confidence, assertiveness, communication, establishing authority and credibility, and building professional peer groups.

Run across two days, the workshop covered numerous topics including unconscious bias, imposter syndrome, time and priority management, giving and receiving feedback, and tools for managing conflicts and crises. Workshop attendees took a practical approach to these topics, engaging in short theoretical inputs then following up with extensive exercises, case studies, and group discussions with the goal of increasing the impact of the concepts that were explored.

The enthusiasm of the participants was clear across the two days. “I was inspired by how passionate, supportive, and dedicated all the participants and trainers were. Our shared goals of learning and applying these leadership tools laid the foundation for a long-term community with a shared experience,” said Postdoctoral Fellow Valerie Tornini from the Giraldez Lab.

Gallini was hugely satisfied with the outcomes of the course. “I believe that the skills we learnt during the workshop both individually and as a peer group will improve our confidence and capacity to lead a group tremendously. I found it extremely useful and I was impressed by the profound impact the workshop has had in helping me to interact with people more effectively.”

Individually, every participant was able to find important lessons throughout the two days. Tornini identified three main takeaways she got from the course. “I interacted with a diverse network of strong female scientist leaders, put specific names to concepts or experiences that we face but may not recognize or have the ability to describe, and found inspiration for how much work is still left – for scientists of any gender – to achieve an equitable workplace.”

Looking forward, the group feels positive about what they have learned and how they will apply it in the future. The course not only provided a network for women postdocs to interact and learn, it also set them up with the ability both to improve their experiences as well as those of many other scientists. “[This course] has provided me with tools to better support current and future generations of scientists from all backgrounds. I’d like to think that a month or decades down the road, I will continue to refine these tools and help pay it forward for all scientists,” concluded Tornini.

Submitted by Neltja Brewster on September 09, 2019