Health and Social Science for All

Recently, I have been reflecting on the state of health and social science in the US.

How competitive is it to get an NIH grant?

The number of submissions to the National Institutes of Health has grown continually over the past 20+ years; in 2018, NIH received more than 55,000 grant applications, of which about 20% were funded, though the success rate varies by NIH institute.

Graph showing upward trend in number of grant submissions, and downward trend in funding rates.

Retrieved from: https://report.nih.gov/nihdatabook/report/20

Who is actually receiving grants?

NIH’s Data Book makes it easy to see the breakdown of grant awardees by gender.

Thus, about 70% of R01-equivalent (NIH’s main grant mechanism for large research projects) are awarded to men. I tried to find the numbers broken down by race/ethnicity in NIH’s Data Book, but the numbers were not available. Nikaj, Roychowdhury, Lund, Matthews, and Pearson (2018) examined R01 grant awards between 2009 and 2016. They found that less than 5% of awardees identified as underrepresented race or ethnic minorities.

Early stage investigator = 10 years or less from terminal degree; New investigator = never been awarded an R01; Experienced investigator = has held an R01. Underrepresented Minority = investigators who identified as African American/Black, American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. Data source: Nikaj, Roychowdhury, Lund, Matthews, & Pearson, FASEB Journal, 2018. doi: https://doi.org/10.1096/fj.201800639

Thus, the majority of NIH-funded biomedical, health, and social science research grants are awarded to men who are non-underrepresented; or primarily white men. That is, the nation’s NIH funded research agenda is being primarily driven by white men.

Why does the lack of diversity matter?

The NIH lists one of it’s fundamental goals as “to foster fundamental creative discoveries, innovative research strategies, and their applications as a basis for ultimately protecting and improving health.” Unfortunately, the lack of diversity in the NIH-funded workforce may be stifling innovation and creative discovery, and ultimately protecting and improving health for some not all. Galinsky et al. (2015) argued that diverse groups “enable effective decision making, innovation, and economic growth by promoting deeper information processing and complex thinking.” That is, groups that are less diverse, will have less innovation at least partially due to more simplistic thinking, and will actually solve problems more slowly and are less productive. Because NIH-funded research groups are often not diverse and are most often led by men who may not have had to face gender, race, or sexual minority discrimination, there are likely numerous critical, fundamental research questions that are not being answered because well-resourced groups with the ability to carry them out are not thinking of them. These critical, fundamental research questions may be asked by diverse scholars, but due to a lack of data, these scholars may never have the resources to answer these questions. Ameliorating health disparities (due to gender, race, ethnicity, education, social class, sexual and gender minority status, and other factors) is one of our most pressing public health problems. Efforts to reduce and eliminate health disparities should be led by diverse teams of researchers who are designing cutting edge studies to ask questions that are not currently being asked, and to collect data that are not currently being collected to answer them.

Health and Social Science for All: The Case of the National Couples’ Health and Time Study

I am leading a team that is working on the National Couples’ Health and Time Study (NCHAT). NCHAT is the first population-representative study of same and different-gender couples in the United States. We are collecting data from over 2500 individuals and their partners, and will have an oversample of individuals who are race and ethnic minorities. With support from NICHD, we will be collecting survey, time diary, and biological (dried blood spot) data. These data will eventually become available to scholars around the world to use, in the same vein as studies like the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health or the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study.

The research team for NCHAT is diverse in terms of race, ethnic, and sexual minority status. In fact, it is the most diverse team I have worked on, by design. Having this diverse team has shaped the project in critical ways that will certainly increase its impact. For example, one day when we were going over the survey, a team member points out that we had items and language that could be interpreted as a microaggression to some groups. As a white, cis, hetero woman, I did not notice these microaggressions, and now our survey is less offensive thanks to our awesome team. Yay! There are also items, questionnaires, and research questions that our team has discussed that I never would have thought about on my own. I am so grateful for each person’s perspective: JaNelle Ricks, Wendy Manning, Miranda Berrigan, Alexandra VanBergen, Patricia Pittman, Lawrence Stacey, Luther Young, Meghna Mahambrey, Jessica Horan, and Corinne Reczek.

Our goal in survey design has been to design a survey that will not only allow us to test the aims of our grant, but will also give researchers without access to adequate populations to test their research questions the ability to do so. With that in mind, we are crowd-sourcing our survey. That is, we want feedback from all scholars who might be interested in using these data to answer important research or policy-related questions. You can find a draft of the survey here, and you can find the feedback form here. The feedback form will stay open until June 16, 2019. We are grateful to have already received feedback from several individuals that has been incredibly helpful. Thank you all.

This is my stance on open science, and health and social science for all. I cannot wait to see how NCHAT will advance my own science, and perhaps even more importantly, the science of diverse scholars around the world. Help us make sure it does by giving us your feedback and shaping what we learn.

Fighting Back: Implicit Bias, Micro-aggressions, and Micro-resistance

I have been planning to do a post on diversity in graduate education, but it requires me being vulnerable and I wasn’t even sure how to even do it. On Tuesday, in my first-year graduate proseminar, we had a session on implicit bias, micro-aggressions, and micro-resistance, and ironically, 2016 was the first year that I have included this session. I thought as I taught that class that the glass ceiling would be shattered that night and that the need for a class on these topics would become less necessary over time. How wrong I was. Now, more than ever, the necessity of promoting diversity, and strategies for dealing with implicit bias in the academy and life, have never been more important.

What is implicit bias?

Implicit bias is a major pathway through which privilege is enacted. Using the definition from Ohio State’s Kirwan Institute: “implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.  These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control.  Residing deep in the subconscious, these biases are different from known biases that individuals may choose to conceal for the purposes of social and/or political correctness.  Rather, implicit biases are not accessible through introspection.”

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Dual-earner couples share the housework equally – until the first baby comes

Claire Kamp Dush, The Ohio State University

As a tenured professor and mother of four young sons, I am constantly asked, “How do you do it?” What people mean is: “How can you have a full-time job and still manage child care and housework?”

I usually respond, “High-quality husband and high-quality child care, in that order.” From the outset, my husband, a full-time, clinical pharmacist, has been a committed partner in caring for our house and raising our children.

But I’ve learned that, with our equal division of housework and child care, he’s an outlier. There may be some like him, but our research group at The Ohio State University recently discovered that such husbands in dual-earner households are, indeed, rare.

Unequal workloads

In our new study of 182 dual-earner couples who became parents for the first time, we found that fathers generally did less work around the home after their baby was born, and also became less involved in childcare than mothers. This was surprising given that both parents worked at their jobs about the same amount of hours.

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Hair Flipping and Hiring

For many years now, basically since I was in charge of my own hair, I have had long hair. Before that (circa 1984) my mom always told her friend Sandy who cut my hair to leave it no longer than shoulder length; I have three sisters and my mom did not want to mess with that much hair. I longed for long flowing locks, preferably straight and blond. Thus, ever since I have been in charge of my own hair, I have had long, wavy/straight hair, though I have not gotten around to the blond. I never thought much about my long hair, at least in terms of my career, until I went on the job market.

photo credit: rachel a. k. via photopin cc

photo credit: rachel a. k. via photopin cc

In 2004-2005, I went on the market for the first time. I was also pregnant that year, and I am not one of those women who can hide a pregnancy. I had my son in May, so at the time of my interviews in January and February, I was pretty pregnant. I ended up going on four on-campus interviews, but did not receive any of the tenure-track offers. What happened I wondered? One university in particular stood out to me. The department chair had told me several times – “you are clearly our first choice”. The chair could not have been more complimentary to me, as were others in the department. But when the chair called to tell me I didn’t get the job, the chair said the faculty vote split between me and another candidate, so they hired no one.

The next year at my annual conference, I saw the chair, whom I had really liked. I asked “what happened?” The chair proceeded to tell me about the faculty meeting where the decision was made. The chair said, in all seriousness, that one of the faculty had said “she flipped her hair too much during her job talk”, and basically implied that I was “flighty”. I do not remember if the chair used the exact word “flighty”, but basically the chair implied that several faculty members thought that I was ditzy. Reeling, I expressed shock, and the chair followed-up with “Well, I just said ‘she’s pregnant’, you need to cut her a break.”

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The Ultimate Job Market Guide

Going on the job market is stressful and confusing. I have been working on a new course here at OSU called The PhD Job Market – the syllabus draft can be seen here. It is going up through the levels in terms of approvals; it should be offered in Spring 2014. But with all of the recent controversy about W and the rescinded job offer (see Inside Higher Ed, Slate, and the original post), I decided to post my suggested Job Market reading list here.  Check it out – and let me know if you have any suggestions.

photo credit: Jillian Corinne via photopin cc

photo credit: Jillian Corinne via photopin cc

Books referred to below:

  • The Academic Job Search Handbook (AJSH), 4th Edition by Julia Miller Vick and Jennifer S. Furlong
  • “So What Are You Going to Do with That?”: Finding Careers Outside Academia (SW) by Susan Basalla and Maggie Debelius

I also include presentations from the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity library.  You need to join NCFDD to access these resources. It is free to join if you are at a place with an institutional membership.  Go to: https://facultydiversity.site-ym.com/general/register_member_type.asp and chose “Institutional Sub Account Membership”.

Reflect on what you really want for a future career

Academic jobs; Jobs at different kinds of institutions; Postdocs

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