The Sassy Scientist – Will You Be My Co-PI?

The Sassy Scientist – Will You Be My Co-PI?

In the landscape of very competitive scientific funding, and with STEM research teams sometimes having more people with the name ‘Ben’ than women, Pierre asks what no one dares to even think:

Can I increase the chances for my proposal getting funded if I co-write it with a woman?

Dear Pierre,

The funding game is one of low-odds and it seems you are looking for a loophole. No judgement from me, I am sure many have asked themselves this question unironically. But you are in the right place for such dilemmas.

Now, you are in luck, because there are so many women in STEM and geosciences you will easily find your token collaborator. It’s great that now there is such a plethora of women from all backgrounds in geosciences, so that everyone gets their voice heard and represented within academia. Some might say, there are so many more women, it’s harder to get a geoscience job nowadays! Stranger things have happened, but it’s what happens when half of the population can now join a selection process. So, I am sure it will be super easy for you to find a collaborator. Remember to explain in great detail this loophole you found in the system. There is no need to look at grant statistics. In science, what you believe is enough. Your potential collaborator will only be grateful and excited to get such an e-mail from you. I bet she will jump at this invitation solely based on their gender, not their merit. Do not forget that the COVID-19 pandemic has freed up so much time for women. So you should make her the default planner for the whole of the team: e-mails, coordinating meetings, sending reminders, taking notes, proofreading, and so on.

Truth is, if a woman is on the same very competitive position as you are, chances are she is more well-rounded and versed than you. So of course I would advocate for you to include a woman in your proposal. Chances are she will significantly improve it, because you see, she probably had to hustle harder for the same opportunities her male peers access through the boys club networking. Women often do the job that you do as a researcher in academia and sit on a bunch of equality, diversity, and inclusion committees and initiatives, are the designated planner for anything social in their research group, are also the unofficial lab manager/secretary where one is lacking, and so on.

I suspect this might end up a hot topic for debate. So here we go, dear readers: Should research proposals get brownie points during the appraisal process for having a gender and ethnically diverse team? Discuss.

Yours truly,

The Sassy Scientist

PS: Probably no. Do better!

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I am currently employed at a first tier research institute where I am continuously working with the greatest minds to further our understanding of the solid Earth system. Whether it is mantle or lithosphere structure and dynamics, solid Earth rheology parameters, earthquake processes, integrating observations with model predictions or inversions: you have read a paper of mine. Even if you are working on a topic I haven’t mentioned here, I still know everything about it. Do you have any problems in your research career? I have already experienced them. Do you struggle with your work-life balance? Been there, done that. Nowadays, I have only one hobby: helping you out by answering the most poignant questions in geodynamics, research and life. I am waiting for you right here. Get inspired.

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