Widening the Pipeline: Inclusive Teaching for a Diverse Scientific Workforce

Widening the Pipeline, a talk with Alison Gammie PhD
Alison Gammie, Ph.D., is director of the Division of Training, Workforce Development and Diversity at the National Institutes of Health and a former Princeton faculty member.

On February 7, 2017, the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning welcomed back Dr. Alison Gammie, director of the Division of Training, Workforce Development and Diversity at the National Institutes of Health and a former Princeton faculty member, for a talk entitled, “Widening the Pipeline: Inclusive Teaching for a Diverse Scientific Workforce.” This talk was the first spring event of McGraw’s Inclusive Teaching at Princeton series. A video recording of this event is available for viewing.

Addressing a packed auditorium full of students, faculty, and postdoctoral scholars, Dr. Gammie gave an overview of recent research into why diversity in the scientific workforce is important, causes for lack of diversity, and effective evidenced-based interventions to improve outcomes and create a more diverse scientific workforce. She shared strategies for all levels, from what faculty can do, to what students can do, to what universities can do, and finally to what institutional funders can do to make a difference.

As Martina Lessio, a graduate student in Chemistry, said, “From the perspective of a female graduate student in science who is facing the decision of whether to stay on the academic track or not, I found this seminar extremely informative and encouraging. Dr. Gammie highlighted reasons and proposed possible solutions for why women and minorities tend to give up the opportunity to pursue an academic career. While discussing the reasons might sound discouraging at first, a deep understanding of the obstacles I might face as a female scientist in academia will certainly help me overcome them. For instance, Dr. Gammie showed a diagram representing the ‘impostor syndrome,’ a condition affecting many women [that] I was not aware of. The diagram was so illuminating to me that I printed it out and put it in my office to remind myself that I am not an ‘impostor’ and I deserve to be where I am. I also shared it with all my friends and, if I decide to stay in academia, I will certainly share it with my students. “

Rebecca Napolitano, a graduate student in Civil and Environmental Engineering, said “As a female engineer and as a mentor what she is doing gives me hope for the future of my students as well as myself. I think she brought up some excellent points about the ways to be an inclusive mentor and teacher that I am excited to apply to my work. She has helped me to build confidence in my students and myself and I am extremely grateful for that.”

In a follow-up discussion held in McGraw’s graduate pedagogy program on February 15th, participants considered Dr. Gammie’s recommendations for how students and faculty can create a more diverse scientific workforce, such as by selecting activities to reinforce scientific identity and by creating cohorts among students so that they can form networks and mentoring relationships. Groups brainstormed strategies for how they might implement these recommendations in their precepts and labs right away, as well as ideas to take with them into their roles as future faculty.