Networks are hubs of knowledge, resources, collaborations, mentorship—and most of all, opportunity. Robust professional networks help scientists develop scientific ideas; establish a presence in the field; nurture peer relationships; and boost career trajectories.
Networks are both informal and formal. They can be as simple as a group of casual connections used to bounce research and career ideas off of. Or they can be formal structures within institutions and scientific societies.
But networks also can, and do, exclude. Consider how research shows us that:
- Women scientists have less access to both informal and formal networks that are critical for helping to shape a scientist’s research and career¹. At the stage when mentorship and relationship building are most important, both are harder for women to come by
- When women scientists help create networking and peer mentoring groups, the benefits are vast². These spaces allow them to share important strategies on balancing their life and career; building confidence; and reducing the isolation they feel within male dominated academic departments
- Women-led networks like the Earth Science Women’s Network³ give women the specific mentoring and knowledge sharing they need to engage with the scientific community; navigate their careers; and conduct the research they are passionate about
We know that when women physicists and astronomers feel supported and welcomed in science networks, they can more quickly accomplish their career goals and make a lasting impact on their field.
¹ Xu and Martin, 2011; Misra et al, 2017
² O’Meara and Stromquist, 2016
³ Adams et al, 2016