NASEM Event on Science Communication and Gender Equity 

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, in collaboration with L’Oreal USA, hosted an event on November 15th, celebrating the research of women leaders in science and exploring the critical role of science communication. The event included two panels.

 The first panel included scientific presentations from each of the 2023 L’Oreal For Women in Science Fellows. It included:

  • Caitlyn Kowalski, University of Oregon
  • Taylor Medwig-Kinney, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Jocelyn Mejas, Johns Hopkins University
  • Jessleen Kanwal, CalTech
  • Bria Macklin, Gladstone Institutes

Each woman described their postdoctoral research which was, in part, financially supported by the L’Oreal Fellowship. Panelists reflected expertise in behavioral neuroscience, biological disciplines, immunology, ecology and evolution. The event emphasized how science communication is crucial to reducing stereotypes within STEM fields. The panel promoted diverse voices in science by highlighting the achievements and contributions of these women.

The second panel addressed “The Science of Science Communication”. Expert speakers included:

  • Sara K. Yeo, Department of Communication, The University of Utah
  • Laura Lindenfield, Executive Director, Alan Alda Center for Scientific Communication
  • Maria Qadri, Scientific Communications Fellow for the Knowledge Transfer and Outreach, Center for the Advancement of STEM Leadership, Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U)
  • Ying Chen, AVP, Advanced Research, L’Oreal USA

Each panelist brought forth their perspective on the value of science communication, shared their experiences and guidance, and offered resources which could be of use to communicators. Speakers agreed that science communication must be built on trust, efficacy and scientific credibility, adding the importance of understanding the perspective of your audience. They cautioned that, without these conditions, audiences will be less receptive to new information, noting that “establishing scientific credibility with professionals, trust with the public about their health and well-being, and being a good listener,” will result in you being a more effective communicator. Panelists made the case that science communication has the potential to address inequity. Speakers explained how effective advocacy and negotiation tools enable women in STEM to thrive in the workplace and overcome gender bias challenges.

Panelists spoke specifically about the importance of good writing, noting available resources such as writing groups or writing centers. They encouraged employing simple techniques such as a hook that draws the reader in at the beginning of your writing, implementing storytelling, and using the work that organizations have already done to better your method of science communication.

Among the key takeaways:

  • Know your audience
  • Adapt your style of communication
  • Build credibility and a trusting relationship