Junior scientists: Senior scientists as allies for equity

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Asking the scientific system to fix itself from the bottom up could place an unacceptable burden on junior scientists (see J. Tregoning Nature 545, 7; 2017). Moreover, their efforts are likely to make little difference without the participation of senior colleagues.

Young researchers, especially women and those from ethnic minorities, are already forced to challenge the existing culture if they are to advance professionally. They face overt and unconscious bias, barriers to recruitment and unequal pay. They receive fewer grants and citations and must work harder for recognition than those with similar qualifications (see Nature 495, 2224; 2013).

Such inequity could be corrected with the support of peers, as Tregoning proposes. But without higher-ranking allies, the efforts of young scientists face obstacles. To bring about change, senior scientists should couple their insight, experience and enthusiasm to that of younger colleagues. This would highlight problem areas, implement policy solutions and lead to cultural reform.

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  1. Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Edgewater, Maryland, USA.

    • Christina Simkanin &
    • Alison Cawood

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