February 2012

Task force report: ASBMB women in academe

To understand the abrupt change in the distribution of women and men biochemists in training and as teacher–scholars, the task force makes the following three recommendations:

  1. 1. Survey ASBMB on the progress of women in academe on a regular basis.  
  2. 2. Survey younger biochemists to determine the factors influencing their career choices and the places trained women and men biochemists are practicing in addition to academe.  
  3. 3. Analyze ways to make academia more acceptable to young women in biochemistry (changes to departmental academic culture, family-friendly policies, and so forth).  

gender_survey_theilElizabeth Theil (etheil@chori.org) is a senior scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute and an adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

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I have been working as a Biochemist although I received an MD degree in Venezuela. I not only received scholarship from the University of Zulia to specialize in Biochemistry, but I have been working in a Research Institute adscribed to the Faculty of Medicine in that University for almost 50 y, promoted from Assistant to Associate and then Full Professor without any gender problem. Moreover I received grants to do my research and have been elected Director of the Institute for two 3-year periods, and elected Editor in Chief of a journal of the Institue. Dr. Elena Ryder


I would like to first identify myself as a 56 years old female lab scientist holding a university tenured position. This report has certainly solidified the long-speculated cause of gender differences in university tenured position. I guess the ultimate goal of this survey is to help young women in their career development. I really like to help young women and this is the only reason that I spent time writing this. Editor's note to the writer of the above excerpted comment: Please email your full comment or a letter to the editor to asbmbtoday@asbmb.org. I'm afraid half of your comment was cut off, and we'd like to publish the entire thing. Thank you, and sorry for the technical limitation.



  • The more things change the more they remain the same. It shows the inherent bias of academics against women when considering biochemists for permanent faculty positions.

  • This shows the current trend in academe. With the decreasing number of tenure-track positions, this discrepancy is bound to increase. This difference is added to by the increasing struggle to obtain funding. Many of the talented women biochemists are leaving the academe and bench to take more family-friendly jobs. Though many universities as well as the government mention about recruiting of women scientists, unless something concrete is mentioned in the bylaws will this situation improve.

    Research fellow

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