For the past few months I have been hearing a lot about alternative science research careers, specifically science policy, patent law, science communication and science journalism. Recently, I attended the Association of Women in Science (AWIS) Career Panel on Science Policy and Education hosted by the AWIS-Baltimore.
Science policy is the branch of public policy that is the bridge between science and the public. It involves scientific issues, education, advocacy and everything else that goes into science policy. A balance of writing, communication, and oral skills are key skills to have in a science policy position.
Now there are many recent graduate Ph.D. scientists that are exploring alternative science research careers, such as science policy. The good thing about the science policy field is that you get the opportunity to apply your extensive scientific knowledge that can make an impact on the public. For this career corner post I am going to share my reflection after attending an AWIS career panel on science policy and participating in a NSBE twitter chat on science policy.
At the AWIS-Baltimore Career Panel the panelists shared their academic and career journeys. The AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellows (AAAS) shared their experiences with the fellowship and how to apply. If you want to find out more information about the AAAS check out this link. AAAS fulfills the mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy; diplomacy; education and career support; public engagement with science; and more”. As an AAAS fellow you have the chance to contribute to federal policy and see how science connects with science policy.
My Two Main Take Away Messages from the AWIS Career Panel are:
1. Remember that you are representing yourself: Whenever you do anything you want to keep this in mind because you never know who is watching.
2. Communication is the most important thing in a science policy career after flexibility and multitasking: There will be times you have to juggle multiple things, lead meetings and make decisions. Are you ready?
These panelists are inspirational women and I enjoyed hearing them share their stories. It was a great career panel discussion!
Since the National Society of Black Engineers was having another #AAWiSTEM (African-American Women in STEM) twitter chat a few weeks later on science policy I decided to combine my reflection from the AWIS Career Panel with the NSBE #AAWiSTEM twitter chat. The overall goal of AAWiSTEM is to empower African-American girls and women in STEM. The theme is highlighting the past, present and future of African-American Women in STEM. This was a very interactive chat and I would like to share a few questions and highlights from the discussion:
Questions and Some Answers from NSBE Science Policy Twitter Chat:
1. Question: What are the biggest policy issues for AAWiSTEM?:
Most people agreed that we have to increase the representation and retention of women of color in STEM. I agree. This was a huge concern at universities and companies. Another big concern was salary, specifically negotiating salary and the start-up package. One way that we can change is by getting involved in science policy and participating in AAAS Policy Fellowships.
2. Question: How can we communicate the need for policy change to help overcome barriers AAWiSTEM face?:
Many of the participants of the discussion believed we need to increase the overall visibility of African-American women in STEM if we want to overcome barriers and make a change. We are a double minority. We can make a change by introducing social media, contacting policy makers, talking to our university administration and getting involved in science education policy.
3. Question: How can we collaborate?:
I believe collaboration is key for many things, especially science policy. If we want to see changes we need to talk to people who are in science policy positions and our leaders in office.
These are just a few of the key questions that stood out to me. If you want to see more and participate in the next twitter chat search #AAWiSTEM on twitter.
Overall I am learning a lot about science policy after attending the AWIS career panel and NSBE twitter chat. With a science policy career you get to combine science, diversity issues, science outreach, k-12 education, outreach, advocacy and much more. Science policy is diverse. STEM is diverse. This just shows you how a degree in STEM can take you ANYWHERE in your career. You can do ANYTHING with a STEM degree.
Do you have an alternative science career? Comment below.