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Diversity is the key to unlocking scientific innovations

Posted on November 15th, 2018 by in Pharma R&D

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October 2018 started with Cern professor Alessandro Stumia’s disparaging speech about women in which he proclaimed, to a predominately female audience of physicists, that ‘physics was invented and built by men, it’s not by invitation’.  In that same week, it was announced that Donna Strickland won a 2018 Nobel prize in physics for her groundbreaking method of generating laser beams with ultrashort pulses.

Donna Strickland is only the third woman to win a Nobel prize in physics and the first in 55 years. This statistic has brought to the forefront questions about diversity and the exclusion of women and minorities in science education and careers. No doubt there are explicit and implicit barriers preventing more diversity in STEM, for example the lack of female role models is likely to prevent women from feeling included and discourage them from pursuing careers.

While some institutions and scientific communities are actively seeking to increase diversity and breakdown stereotypes, more needs to be done to support greater diversity in research. The future of science depends on a robust and diverse workforce drawn from all corners of society, in order to produce creative and innovative solutions to modern problems. When research projects incorporate a multitude of opinions and experiences, research benefits. Encouraging and supporting diversity to enable better science is a key priority for Elsevier, as seen with programs such as the annual Gender summit, in which Elsevier is actively involved. These events serve as catalysts to encourage organizations to review internal policies to ensure diversity.

Scientists are also aware that increased diversity will improve research results; this was shown in a survey of scientists that we carried out last year, finding that the top two attributes scientists need to succeed in the workplace are cross-disciplinary knowledge (72%) and the ability to collaborate with other researchers in different fields or geographies (59%). These statistics clearly demonstrate that increased working across boundaries—from geography to gender—is crucial as society seeks to address the big challenges it faces, such as curing cancer or facilitating precision medicine. It’s more than just wishful thinking: diversity in research leads to better science, which in turn leads to a more informed society.

Please help us facilitate a dialogue about what other organizations are doing to promote diversity? We’d like to know what you are doing and the successes and challenges you are experiencing—please share below in the comments.  Also check out Elsevier’s Christy Wilson’s post on National STEM day, highlighting the importance of the awareness and celebration of innovation in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math:  National STEM Day






Sr. Manager, Pharma and Biotech Segment

Sr. Manager, Pharma and Biotech Segment

As a professional with over 14 years of experience in strategy development and partnership management across a variety of industries, Nicki’s latest role as a Senior Manager, Segment Marketing at Elsevier applies her skills to the area of drug discovery and development in the Pharma and Biotech industry.  In this capacity she is focused on understanding biopharmaceutical R&D challenges and turning them into opportunity to further Elsevier’s ability to serve industry executives and the professionals who innovate in the drug discovery and development space.  Prior to joining Elsevier, Nicki held senior alliance and strategy roles in the Legal, Tax & Accounting, Life Sciences and Cyber Security industries.

Nicki resides in New York City and holds a BA in English Literature and Mandarin Chinese from Carleton College in Northfield, MN.


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